Let’s take some time to focus on the building blocks of a successful call center for large enterprise businesses (ENT). ENTs who’ve explored the idea of setting up their own in-house call centers know that it’s extremely costly and complex – to the point that call centers are known for being called “cost centers.” Between the expensive equipment, software and training costs, in addition to scheduling agents properly and making sure ideal workforce management is in place, the whole process is a massive undertaking. Setting up a call center is not a simple, cost-effective solution. But if the goal is to scale exponentially, then working with a specialized third-party answering service is.
A qualified third-party answering service can be an extension of a business’s sales team, know the ins and outs of the company, and work as if they are literal employees. Businesses can partner with top-quality sales and customer service agents—all without the headache of onboarding, training and paying for the cost of a new employee in a call center.
Enterprise decision makers who understand the benefits of working with a third-party answering service realize that they’re trusting their company to an external entity, so it’s not to be taken lightly. They know how important it is to be selective in this delicate process. The workforce management relationship between both parties and staff needs to be living and breathing, flexible, and customizable. There needs to be open communication and a willingness to improve and adapt as necessary.
But let’s get back on track—what does it truly take to build an effective call center and what can be the impact of a synergized workforce management system? The reason we want to zoom in on this question is that it’s crucial for ENT businesses to have a solid understanding of this undertaking. We’ll walk through some of the pros and cons of setting up an in-house call center and discuss the impact of workforce management on call center operations. Here we go!
What is Workforce Management (WFM)?
Successful workforce management solutions help businesses maintain internal and external communication, keep up with scheduling, assign tasks, review metrics and more to help you stay on top of the day-to-day, whether the team is in-house full time, working from home, working in the field or on the go.
The term “workforce management” (WFM) is the act of managing, regulating and directing the use of labor in the workforce. Specifically, this occurs through managing human resources—including recruitment, staffing, training, compensation, performance management and more. It involves planning for high-volume periods, scheduling employees accordingly and assigning work to the right person with the right skill set.
What does WFM look like in a call center?
One of the main goals of WFM in a call center is to maintain operational efficiency by ensuring that the right number of agents, with the right skill sets, are staffed at the right time. They need to create the best possible fit between the forecasted required workload and the number of agents scheduled so that there’s the fewest number of paid working hours for the company’s revenue opportunity.
Having a forecasting system that addresses the required considerations is a recipe for success. However, not doing this correctly often results in chaos. It can foster an unproductive environment where agents are sitting around, waiting and wasting your money. Or the opposite can happen — burnt-out agents who can never take breaks and generate a call queue that stretches to minutes or sometimes hours long. You definitely don’t want customers waiting longer than two minutes max on the phone line.
As you can imagine, these initiatives are highly complex and take high levels of data, forecasting and analytics. In order to have workforce management in the first place, there needs to be an accurate and reliable system for collecting and analyzing agent activity and performance, the business’s performance in general, the inbound and outbound customer engagement and more—as well as how all of these touchpoints work together.
Data must be collected from every customer interaction across the organization – voice, chat, email, web, SMS, etc. in order to forecast accurately for better WFM. Points like call types (customer service or sales), time off the phone, call arrival time, call duration, agent vacation days, national holidays, sick days, bad weather days, idle rep times, how to schedule breaks and lunches, anticipating peaks and valleys and more all need to be taken into consideration within WFM.
It’s not difficult to see how the sheer volume of data could quickly become overwhelming and compromise the accuracy of the forecast. Additionally, unforeseen and/or emerging future trends need to be incorporated into the forecast as well and may impact outcomes more than the historical data does.
What are the possible results of successful WFM in an ENT call center?
When ENT businesses implement successful WFM solutions, the results can be seen in their ROI and call center margins.
When you’ve got a meticulous pulse on data analysis and forecasting, scheduling, assigning agents and day-to-day management, it’s easier to provide the best possible customer experience, resolve their problems on the first try, and sell more products and services.
To put it simply, Workforce Management allows businesses to scale with ease and keep costs under control. The trick is to focus on that growth and always be looking for more ways to improve your operations.
If your internal WFM is not helping you achieve your goals, then what?
Imagine a giant puzzle with hundreds of pieces, but all the pieces are constantly moving and evolving. How is it possible to put it all together when you’re busy super doing what you do best—providing your services to your customers?
ENT businesses tend to outsource their call center because call centers and all they entail are simply not their forte. These businesses most likely are not in one of the home-servicing industries because they had dreams of running impeccable call centers. But many of them recognize that in order for them to truly solve their clients’ problems in the best way possible, and at the scale they need, then they need the resources of a 5-star call center. The massive overhead of recruiting, training, setting up the equipment and setting up a successful WFM solution makes it very difficult for ENT businesses to ramp up the way they need to. Remember, it’s not called a “cost center” for no reason.
So, to end off, Slingshot has mastered and continuously masters workforce management solutions with each of our SMB and ENT clients in the way that works best for them. We recognize that each business is unique, and by working together as a true extension of their team, they can scale beyond their wildest dreams.
Now that you’ve seen a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes at Slingshot and the services we provide for our clients on a daily basis, you can understand the weight of our promise to help catch every single lead that comes your way.
When evaluating whether you want to build your own call center or partner for an out-of-the-box solution, reach out to us. We’re happy to go over the points discussed in this post more in-depth to help you make the most cost-effective decision for your business.