What is call center workforce management? (+ Best WFM software)

In a call center, workforce management is a set of processes that ensure the right number of agents with the right skills are scheduled at the right time. This is even more important post-pandemic, as more CX teams are embracing remote and distributed staffing strategies for the long-term.

By Erin Hueffner, Content Marketing Manager

Published December 16, 2020
Last updated March 12, 2022

If you've ever worked in a restaurant, then you know that working on Friday night is not the same as working on Tuesday afternoon.

The same logic can be applied to your call center. If you don't have enough agents scheduled during a peak time, your team may not be able to answer calls quickly—that's frustrating to your customers. In fact, customers expect a faster response by phone than any other channel.

Workforce management (WFM) data can help you forecast your staffing needs. Read on to learn about call center workforce management, and why it's worth it.

Call center workforce management definition

Workforce management refers to the strategies and technologies companies use to optimize employee productivity.

In a call center, workforce management is a set of processes that ensure the right number of agents with the right call center skills are scheduled at the right time. This is even more important post-pandemic, as more CX teams are embracing remote and distributed staffing strategies for the long-term.

Call center WFM software, such as Tymeshift and Assembled, integrate with your support software to provide a data-drive approach to forecasting and scheduling.

Orgs that use workforce management strategies often see reduced employee churn, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced operational costs.

How workforce management works

A solid call center WFM solution should help your business ensure a consistent service level and meet service level agreements (SLAs). The goal is finding insights and streamlining contact center operations in three areas:

  • Predict agent workload
  • Looking at your historical data helps you forecast agent workload. Are there certain times of year (or times of day) when you see spikes or dips in customer calls? Forecasting helps you identify these trends. You’ll also need to consider upcoming marketing campaigns - if there’s a major promotion in the works, you may need to staff up your call center to handle customer questions.

  • Respond to issues as they unfold in real time
  • Building schedules to forecasts is one thing - but when call centers have an unexpected spike in volume, a workforce management tool can help you react quickly. This sometimes happens with unplanned outages, product recalls, severe weather, or press coverage. Being able to quickly identify and work to resolve these issues is key.

  • Build schedules based on customer demand
  • In a call center, schedules are driven by your customers. They expect to get a hold of customer service any time of day across the channels of their choice. That means you need to schedule your agents at the right times and the right numbers. A workforce management system gives you access to real time data that helps your team understand if customer demand is exceeding agent capacity.

hand with clock

3 benefits of workforce management for call centers

  1. Customers can rely on fast service when they need it

    When customers contact your business, they expect good service no matter who answers the call. They want to be helped quickly, and if they have to wait it creates a poor customer experience. In fact, the most frustrating aspect of a bad customer service experience is long hold or wait times. On the flip side, the top aspect of a good customer experience is being able to resolve an issue quickly, followed closely by having support available 24/7 in real time. Call centers can directly influence this by ensuring the right staffing levels at peak times.

  2. 2021 Employee Experience Trends Report

    In this free report, we cover how companies are finding ways to work smarter, attract top talent, and harness the collective power of their people to get ahead.

  3. Employees can manage their workload without becoming burned out

    Employees are usually happier when they’re not overworked or stressed out. A workforce management solution can make an impact on this, too. By making sure there’s a good mix of experienced staff in with the more junior contact center agents, you can help them feel more supported on the job. Employee productivity is linked to lower attrition rates too, which saves you on hiring and training costs.

  4. Teams can develop smarter strategies backed by historical data

    In today's remote work environment, it's even more important to have a full picture of agent schedules since you can't just look out at the call center floor. When agent scheduling is managed efficiently, your business can make sure your budget isn’t wasted on overstaffing. The WFM software lets call center managers make adjustments to agent schedules to meet kpis and service levels throughout the day, no matter where they are.

WFM software: Why it's worth it

Some may be skeptical of workforce management software, feeling like Big Brother is watching them, but these tools can have a big impact when they are used intentionally.

As Elissa Reggiardo of Tymeshift said on the Sit Down Startups podcast, these tools can democratize data for your entire support team. WFM solutions help predict and prepare for customer demand, so you can take the guesswork out of your customer service staffing strategy. This is good for everyone–including agents.

Check out the full episode to learn more about workforce management:

From a technical standpoint, these are some of the key benefits of workforce management software:

  • Automatic tracking for time spent on tickets, chats, and calls. This means less paperwork for your agents so they can spend more time with customers.
  • Quickly create complex intraday schedules and see staffing across all channels - this lets you schedule tickets, chats, calls, breaks and plan shifts easily.
  • Approvals: managers can approve shift trades, time off requests through the app
  • WFM reporting: get details on agent productivity and efficiency, ticket status, service level, how much time agents spend on support activities
  • Forecasting: use your data to forecast your future contact volumes and head count up to a year in advance.

Streamline your call center with a WFM solution

With a solid workforce management strategy in place, you can optimize your most valuable asset: your staff. You need WFM data to understand what's happening on your customer service team and when. Data-driven scheduling allows you to meet customers' needs while also giving your agents breaks when they need them.

2021 Employee Experience Trends Report

In this free report, we cover how companies are finding ways to work smarter, attract top talent, and harness the collective power of their people to get ahead.

2021 Employee Experience Trends Report

In this free report, we cover how companies are finding ways to work smarter, attract top talent, and harness the collective power of their people to get ahead.

Read now