What is call center workforce management and why does it matter?

Your call center is critical to the success of your business.

By Erin Hueffner, Content Marketing Manager

Published December 16, 2020
Last updated December 17, 2020

Running a business means managing all of the moving parts—and that includes agent scheduling. Your contact center needs enough agents at the right times to serve your customers without long waits. If your call center is understaffed, your team may not be able to answer calls quickly—that's frustrating to your customers. In fact, customers have a higher expectation a quick response by phone support than any other channel. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, roughly 50% of customers say they want a response in under 5 minutes. the flip side, organizations that use workforce management strategies often see reduced employee churn, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced operational costs.

Read on for tips about implementing a call center workforce management solution, and how it can help your business.

What is call center workforce management (WFM)?

Workforce management is a strategy companies use to optimize the productivity of their employees. It’s a way to manage internal processes like hiring and scheduling. 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 now, with more and more remote workers and the expectation for 24/7 customer service.

3 essentials of a call center workforce management strategy

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

  1. Forecasting

    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.

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    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.

  3. Employee scheduling

    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.

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How workforce management benefits call centers

  • Better customer experience

    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.

  • Higher employee engagement

    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.

  • Better operational efficiency

    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.

Benefits of workforce management software

One of the best ways to bring all this data together is WFM software. Tymeshift is an omnichannel workforce management tool made just for Zendesk. This software helps customer support teams forecast future volumes and see real-time activity to inform staffing decisions. Some of the biggest benefits of workforce management software are:

  • 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 you call center with a WFM solution

WFM is key to forecasting your call center staffing levels. With a solid WFM solution, businesses can invest in the success of their most valuable asset: their staff. By digging into the numbers, your contact center team can improve efficiency and make sure your customer calls are covered when they come in.

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