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4 Workforce Management Disciplines Explained at Enterprise Connect 2022
According to Genesys, workforce management (WFM) is a way of strategically optimizing employee productivity to ensure that human resources are in the right place at the right time. Juanita Coley, founder, and CEO, of Solid Rock Consulting, defined WFM in her No Jitter article as the art and science of ensuring a company has the right people with the right skills doing the right task at the right time. And she’s passionate about telling companies why having the proper WFM solution in place matters.
At her first-ever Enterprise Connect, Coley shared her story with attendees on how she dipped her foot in the contact center world. One day while at work as a contact center agent, she picked up a user manual for the Blue Pumpkin WFM system, which is now Verint. After falling in love with WFM, she soon became smitten with the technologies that power the contact center. Coley even came “full-circle” and landed a job with Verint.
Coley then developed Solid Rock Consulting, a WFM consulting firm to help contact centers primarily focus on design, training, and development while building stronger WFM teams.
Four Core WFM Disciplines—Why They Matter
When Coley moved to the tech side of the contact center, she noticed a disconnect between the way contact centers use a solution vs. how they train employees to use it. During her Enterprise Connect session, “Your WFM Solution Alone Can’t Save You,” Coley stressed that “core four” components of WFM: raw data, forecasting, scheduling, and intraday make a WFM strategy come together. Here’s why.
Raw data: When discussing a WFM solution, many contact centers often start with forecasting and dive right in. “Don’t do that,” Coley advised. “Where are you getting your data from?” Coley used an automatic call distribution system as an example. Let’s say your ACD went down one day, she explained. Suddenly, you’re missing a chunk of calls, and you jump into that forecasting life cycle. Never mind the data that wasn’t there that day, she added. Now you’re forecasting for next Tuesday and predicting you’ll get 500 calls. Coley said that’s not going to happen: “The phone system went down, and calls are missing, so your forecast is already wrong from the beginning.”
You must begin with raw data, which means you need to ensure you have good data sources. It’s important to determine how a WFM solution will integrate with your data sources. And if it doesn’t, how will you get the information into that solution? “You must have a good read on that information,” Coley said. “I’m just going to say it—if your data is trash, trash in equals trash out.”
Forecasting: After reviewing your raw data, Coley said, "you're ready to jump into forecasting." She painted a clear picture to session attendees using a weather analogy. Because if you think about the weather forecast, “you know hurricane season in Florida comes around every year, and you know when that season is,” Coley explained. But are you looking at annual hurricane patterns to determine what the weather is outside of hurricane season? Tomorrow? Are you observing pressure in the area, things like that? The answer is no—that’s short-term forecasting. Forecasting layers exist in the contact center, Coley added. There’s long-term forecasting, i.e., annual or couple of years; short term, i.e., a couple of months; or intraday, which is daily. Contact centers must figure out a way to break the data down and learn to forecast at these different layers. “It’s not good enough to say, ‘I have a WFM solution,’” Coley said, because if you’re not forecasting for volume—why are you forecasting for volume in the first place? “Because you want to know how many contacts, whether via phone, chats, emails, to ensure you have the right people in the right place, with the right skillset, so that customer’s are happy, right?”
Scheduling: When you know how much volume and how many interactions are going to come into the contact center, Coley said, “you’re ready to put the right people in the right place.” People often think of scheduling as an art, and a contact center could have many different types of schedules. Coley advised how your scheduling should depend on your forecast and business needs. You also have to consider your employee population. “Do you have a lot of moms working for you? Do you have students working for you?” Once you identify the workplace culture, “that’s going to determine the types of schedules your contact center can offer.
Intraday: “You got to love when a plan comes together,” Coley said. “And that’s what intraday is.” You forecasted, you created a schedule, but now you’re wondering what’s happening in real-time—the actuals. Did people show up? Coley shared a running joke with the audience about something that used to happen in her department. “Is this the ‘Miss you Monday’ or ‘Payday Friday?’ Because the forecast looked that way. “We already knew people would be trickling in late—suddenly you have system issues … or it was payday Friday, and now these people have to go turn out in the store,” Coley explained as of now, she has to forecast and plan for that. “I love intraday because it’s also an art.”
Your WFM Solution Should Have The Following:
So you’re looking for a new WFM tool? Coley said to consider the following:
- Core WFM Discipline Feature Functionality Scale
- Integration and Automation
First, you should consider the core features and functionalities of WFM. Integration and automation is “your next big lift.” How can you automate certain tasks so that your workforce team has more freedom and can take a deeper dive into data analytics? Lastly, what does usability look like for your contact center? “Any WFM person who has dealt with WFM tools for any length of time often says, ‘this looks like trash, or this is a mess,’” Coley said. “I see it all the time.”
Can Your Company Culture Stand WFM?
Coley emphasized how and why the employee experience (EX) is the core of the customer experience (CX). Companies must first look at their EX and CX initiatives and determine if that ties into the culture. “An employee is never going to treat a customer better than they’re treated,” Coley said. If your employee experience is poor, how excited do you expect employees to be when they come to work?
Coley used Chik-fil-A as an example of company culture. “I don’t care how many times I go to Chik-fil-A, these people are always going to greet me with a smile—they’re so happy,” Coley explained. It’s because they have an amazing employee experience and company culture that spills over to the customer as a byproduct. “A good customer byproduct is a byproduct of your employee experience,” Coley said. “Those two company initiatives have to tie in for your culture to be conducive for a WFM culture.”
Coley also stated that if your people in charge of the WFM department have no idea how WFM fits into the bigger picture, those people will be perceived as the "big brother." That's because they'll be saying no to requests when, in reality, they can make them happen, she explained. Contact centers should consider employee buy-in—making sure you convey the benefit of WFM to employees. It says you’re not here as big brother. Instead, you’re here to help your employees further their careers.
“If your WFM team cannot talk to you about what the employee experience is or what the CX is, your innovation team is going to struggle.”