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Is Erlang Dead in the Omnichannel World?

Karl Burgdorf 25-Jun-2019 16:46:04
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For outsourcers or contact centres with highly skilled agents or relatively low volume queues in a single campaign, Erlang can prove particularly problematic when it comes to FTE stacking errors looking at combined view requirements. 

Put simply, forecasting and scheduling lets you down, costing substantially more than it needs to and erodes what is an already tight margin in low volume or outsourced scenarios.

The Agents are Here

The issue arises when the Erlang requirements for each individual queue are calculated and then added together, resulting in an overestimation of how many agents are needed to service all the queues because each queue’s requirements are rounded up to the nearest whole agent. So on 10 queues you could be up to 9 heads over. On a high volume queue needing 100+ agents an extra body doesn’t impact, but on a low volume queue it can significantly hurt the margin. It gets worse as we know. Typically in low volume queues, they can be identified as mission critical, needing higher skilled agents (higher per agent cost = higher margin erosion) and are less elastic on service levels - making this factor difficult to mitigate by playing the service level game.

 

Further, whilst Erlang does a good job of modelling queuing voice or chat media for a single queue in isolation, the reality is that single-skill and single channel contact centres are a distant memory.  In multi-skill campaigns utilising multi-channels the modelling errors this introduces can quickly compound (or stack) to make FTE forecasting this way ineffective, the campaign inefficient and thus the business uneconomic. This issue is especially apparent when viewing the combined view of many low volume queues, as often seen with outsourcers. Where for instance a single campaign for a handful of outsourced customers, each with a small number of low volume queues, ends up being a substantial volume of calls among one or two dozen queues. Experience says this campaign may only require 50 FTEs at most, but the stacking errors can result in an FTE requirement prediction of several hundred. It has been seen and of course is obviously wrong and treated as such. What if though the requirement prediction was 75? It’s enough over to kill the campaign margin and business justification stone dead but low enough to drag you into a poor decision. That’s even before we get in to how good the spend on forecasting and scheduling was.

 

The problem is of course how to account for partial agent utilisation between different queues.  U-WFM recognise this problem and attacks it on two clear fronts: 

 

In the forecasting phase where higher level modelling is used, U-WFM can tell you what your maximum and minimum FTE requirements will be for each queue, as well as any combination. So as an outsourcer you can quickly find the range of agent requirements for a set of queues in only a few clicks.  The minimum is found quite easily using the assumption that all agents have all skills. The maximum is not quite the opposite. Our algorithm uses a few rules to come up with a combined value depending on agent skills and queue settings, based on U-WFM’s feedback, experience and skills in the field. This is obviously of limited usability but enables you to see the bare range requirements and whilst there still is some stacking error, it’s not as dramatic as other WFM applications.

 

In the scheduling phase our proprietary algorithm directly addresses the issues and models agents between different queues and distributes allocated time based on skillset and queue demand in the right way.  Our smart solution utilises a representation of fractional agents.  This allows the necessary granularity and clarity such that the combination of agent FTE will always add up to the actual number of agents needed, with negligible stacking error.  Essential for you as a business and the benefits do not stop there. Our solution can therefore also be used with confidence to divide up costs between outsourced customers in the same campaign, or provide a better understanding of under or over-utilisation of skills and/or skillsets and thus where to focus agent training.  A real win-win.

 

In summary, U-WFM provides the smart solution by keeping margins relevant and enabling you to control your business better in the omnichannel world across all volumes.

 

 

To speak to us about Erlang or any other aspect of Workforce Management, please click here to  contact us and/or schedule a demo...

SCHEDULE A DEMO

 

Schedule Accuracy Free Webinar

Matt Hughes 30-Apr-2019 10:20:52
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Join our COO, Tim Wharfe for a Webinar on Schedule Accuracy

Tuesday 4th June 2019 2PM BST

How accurate are your schedules?

The best practice answer to this question is that you set a threshold for what you consider acceptable for under or over staffing, then divide the number of acceptable intervals by the total intervals within a period. 

But, what if there was a better way?   A 100% mathematical way that doesn’t use made up thresholds, regardless of which WFM vendor you use. One that gives you a score on your schedule efficiency regardless of how under or overstaffed you are.  

Want to find out more?  Click below to join us for our free webinar...

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE

 

Schedule Optimisation

At this Webinar

What's in it for you ?

  • Demonstrate how to calculate schedule efficiency regardless of which WFM software you use 
  • A bespoke tool to take away and use in your own environment
  • Advice and guidance from Tim and other WFM experts on ways to improve schedule efficiency

About the Presenter

Tim Wharfe has been involved with call and contact centres for over 20 years.  Specialising early in Workforce Management, Tim has worked for some of the biggest contact centres in the UK including Aviva and Ventura. 

 Click here for more information and to reserve your free place:

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE

 

 

We look forward to welcoming you on the 4th June!

 

Ten Warning Signs That You Need an Automated Workforce Management Solution

Matt Hughes 16-Apr-2019 12:31:09
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Lola

 

 

Outgrown your 

in-house

Workforce          Management?

10 Contact Centre Warning Signs that it's time for Automation...>> 

 

Photo of Lola courtesy of @lola_chaz_anya_sandy

 

Part 1 of our blog series on justifying the case for Workforce Management focuses on the 10 telltale signs your contact centre is crying out for automation.

Is it time for your contact centre to make the move from spreadsheets or manual methods of forecasting and scheduling to an automated workforce management (wfm) application? Is your contact centre suffering from any of the below?

 

 Click here to read the full article...

 

See U-WFM at iNet's Contact Centre Executive Briefing

Matt Hughes 08-Feb-2019 15:17:50
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Come and meet us and see U-WFM in action at iNet's upcoming Contact Centre Optimisation Executive briefing.  This 1/2 day event takes place on 27th February at Vintners Place in London. 

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE

 

Tim Wharfe

At this interactive event, Workforce Management will be discussed in detail including the opportunity to see the U-WFM solution and ask questions.

What's in it for your Organisation ?

  • Understand the emerging trends related to contact centre resource planning 
  • Hear from contact centre resource planning experts and have the opportunity to ask questions
  • Share ideas and experiences and learn about best practices from the experts as well as fellow attendees
  • Networking opportunities with your peers
  • Take back ideas and practices that you can put in place to improve your organisations resource planning processes

 Click here for more information and to reserve your free place:

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE

 

We look forward to meeting you! 

 

iNet & U-WFM - A Winning Strategic Partnership for Contact Centres

Matt Hughes 09-Jan-2019 06:57:21
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U-WFM is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with leading telecoms network provider and one of the pioneers of cloud-hosted call centre solutions, iNet.

iNet & U-WFM Partner

iNet’s CEO, Michael Pavlou commented, “The partnership with U-WFM represents a step forward for iNet and our clients. With embedded Workforce Management driven by source call centre data, our clients enjoy a turnkey cloud contact centre solution.  Effective across all communication channels, customers have peace of mind that Service Levels are boosted by scheduling the rights agents, at the right time, with the right skills.”

 

With customer contact centres now under real pressure to rationalise costs and pursue a digital transformation agenda, the iNet/U-WFM partnership brings a complete, elegant, per-user solution that scales on-demand.   

 

The Future is OPEX. 

“The capital expenditure, installation, setup and management of traditional infrastructure based WFM tools with their associated complexity often outweighs the efficiency, value and purpose of utilisation,” remarked Matthew Hughes, CEO of U-WFM. “One of the benefits our partnership with iNet brings is the synergy in our understanding of the cloud operating expense model, its reduced complexity leading to increased effectiveness and where the customer service sector is heading,” said Matthew.

 

Click here to read full press release...

 

See U-WFM in action at iNet’s upcoming event, “Effective Resource Planning for Strategic Contact Centre Optimisation.” Workforce Management will be discussed in detail, including the keynote presentation, “The Impact of Ineffective Resource Planning Decisions on Contact Centre Efficiency.”  This Executive Briefing session will take place at the end of February at Vintners Place in London, click here for more information and to reserve your free place.

RESERVE YOUR FREE PLACE

 

Seasonal Workforce Planning – is your Contact Centre Christmas-Ready?

Matt Hughes 13-Dec-2018 07:11:27
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Could employing more FTEs over Temps not only be good for your customers but also good for your business?

U-WFM Xmas Logo 

The Christmas surge

An obvious topical challenge faced by contact centres at this time of year, is how to address seasonal variations when demand can vary greatly.

By now you will hopefully have completed your strategic plans and are looking forward to a profitable Christmas period.  For many contact centres the next few weeks are critical to overall company profitability.  Although challenging, this period also represents a huge opportunity to not just meet but exceed customers’ expectations.

With the market intelligence company, Mintel, predicting some festive cheer for Britain’s retailers, contact centres need to be poised to deal with the extra demand.  Mintel’s latest research predicts that December’s retail sales will reach £47.7 billion (incl. VAT), growing a respectable 4% compared to last December, when sales hit £45.8 billion - £11 billion of which will be spent online.

 

How to prepare for the demand

With those figures in mind it’s easy to see how certain businesses have 30% of their volume concentrated during the holiday season and rely on it to see them through the rest of the year.  In these situations, companies usually:

  • keep a minimal workforce that matches "normal" operating months
  • recruit temporary labour to deal with the added workload at peak

What contact centres sometimes overlook is that there are lower-cost strategies to improve the quality of service and ultimately improve the customer experience.

 

To recruit or not to recruit? 

The optimal operating point is usually achieved by recruiting more full-time staff than many organisations currently do. The excess labour available in low-demand periods is easily offset by consolidating training and holiday during those times. This increase in headcount is usually not enough to match the demand at peak, but is often enough to meet the demand peak with overtime and smaller incremental seasonal recruitment.

Frequently, these additional employees can be recruited to full-time positions because natural attrition will eliminate excess capacity.  This strategy requires subtle but important changes in work, pay and coverage policies which let employees readily accept schedule changes (e.g. via pay differentials or more weekends off) in support of overarching business goals.

 

Christmas present and future

If you still haven’t prepared for this Christmas season, don’t despair, you can apply these strategies to the peaks and troughs of national holidays, major sporting events and the respective awareness weeks that may affect your sales/service in 2019. Companies that streamline seasonality workforce planning in this manner not only see tremendous cost savings, but also service quality benefits due to a larger percentage of work being managed by more seasoned agents.

 

For more information on strategic planning please see our article on Long Term Holiday Planning and our free Long Term Planner Calculator.

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

 

Season’s Greetings & Best of Luck over the Christmas Period!

 

U-WFM partners with Twilio

Matt Hughes 06-Dec-2018 07:00:12
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Introducing our easy-to-use, Workforce Management in the Cloud to Twilio Flex - the first fully-programmable Contact Center Platform

 

Twilio Logo Red

 

 

 

 

Twilio Flex is a cloud-based contact center platform that's infinitely flexible and instantly deployable.  Flex delivers what you need to run a contact center out-of-the-box, allowing centers to deploy and customize discrete components to match exact business needs without deciding between build or buy.

 

At U-WFM we believe there is an easier way to deploy Workforce Management and make it accessible to all contact centers, regardless of size, aligning us perfectly with Twilio's infinitely flexible ethos. As one of the first cloud providers of WFM solutions we offer our Workforce Management platform as a 100% integrated cloud solution in Twilio Flex.

 

View our Twilio Showcase Page

 

Flex customers will quickly be able to navigate our easy-to-use, yet powerful Workforce Management Suite in the Cloud.

 

Sign Up & Start Building

Complete the short form below, for a 30-day free trial of U-WFM from within your Twilio Flex platform.  Unlike our competitors, in-person training and a welcome workshop are both included in our standard package.

 

 

  

U-WFM partners with Key IVR to deliver secure payment solutions to the contact centre

Matt Hughes 27-Nov-2018 11:03:29
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U-WFM is pleased to announce its partnership with Key IVR, a provider of high-quality payment processing systems for contact centres.

 

Key IVR’s Agent Assisted Payments platform is helping contact centres reduce their costs of PCI Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliance. Key IVR understands that processing card payments can be challenging and provides PCI compliant solutions that de-scope sensitive cardholder data from the business as well as the contact centre.

 

Click here to read full press release...

 

Steve Richardson-Frankton, Enterprise Sales Manager at Key IVR said, “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with U-WFM as both organisations have a combined ambition of providing the best technology solutions for contact centres. We’re looking forward to what the partnership will bring, presenting the market with an offering that will give them the competitive edge.”

 

For more information about Key IVR, visit their website: www.keyivr.com 

 

Ready to see the next generation of Cloud WFM?

Sign up for a solution demonstration:

SCHEDULE A DEMO

 

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -  But can it be applied to Workforce Management?

Matt Hughes 21-Nov-2018 13:35:40
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An Insightful Event courtesy of the UK Contact Centre Forum (UKCCF)

 

Leonardo da Vinci is often referred to as a genius and reputed to have wisely stated that, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  And yet 500 years later, with a wealth of technological advancements and experience, the modern-day telephony sector is still more complex than users would like. You don’t have to take my word for it...

 

 Click here to read the full article...

 

Next Generation of Cloud WFM for Contact Centres

Matt Hughes 18-Oct-2018 07:00:20
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U-WFM is pleased to announce the availability of its next generation cloud workforce management software for all Contact Centres.

 

Bringing Competitive Advantage for all Contact Centres

U-WFM believes there is an easier way to deploy Workforce Management and make it accessible, affordable and available to all contact centres, regardless of size.  Designed as an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform, U-WFM provides the proven benefits of automated forecasting and scheduling for the entire contact centre workforce. 

 

The Next Generation of Easy to Use Workforce Management in the Cloud

U-WFM offers their Workforce Management platform as a 100% cloud, OPEX based solution with zero capital outlay and technology hassle. This allows customers to immediately become more effective, efficient and economic on a pay-as-you-go basis, but still benefit from a premium Workforce Management solution. 

As one of the first cloud providers of WFM solutions, U-WFM’s flexible service models allow customers to unlock a real competitive edge by having access to the latest Workforce Management software and experts, straight to the heart of their operations. This has enabled many centres to deliver the optimal service and customer experience which previously they would have been unlikely to budget for or achieve.  U-WFM delivers the solution directly to where it is needed, expects only to be paid for what customers use, and when they use it.

 

The U-WFM Difference

  • Uniquely, there are no exclusions to the capabilities of the U-WFM solution, with customers gaining full access to the complete U-WFM cloud suite. U-WFM’s mantra being that all customers benefit, all of the time. 
  • Unlike competitors, in the standard “most popular” option U-WFM delivers in-person training and a welcome workshop at no additional cost. The focus being on customers’ success.
  • U-WFM offers 3 customer packages, all customisable, but offered at the same single transparent price for full access to the system and its features.   

Click here to read full press release...

 

Ready to see the next generation of Cloud WFM?

Sign up for a solution demonstration:

SCHEDULE A DEMO