The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) Challenges


Published on

Read this extremely insightful whitepaper on tackling the trickiest workforce management (WFM) challenges in a call-center. You will like it for its detailed analysis on the basics of WFM, the challenges involved and the best-practice sharing to overcome the challenges.

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) Challenges

  1. 1. The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 TrickiestWorkforce Management (WFM) Challenges
  2. 2. Key Contact Center Metrics Contact Center: Your Opportunity Service Level (SL): Every call center runs on to Make the First and Lasting a certain goal for ‘Service Level’ (SL in Impression contact center parlance), which is simply a measure of percentage of total incoming For many global businesses, world-wide, the calls handled within a certain time. SL is contact center serves as the first interface essentially a measure of the Turnaround between the organization and its customers. Time (TAT). For example an SL of 80 / 30 The quality of service offered by the contact requires 80 percent of the incoming calls to center often becomes a yardstick by which be answered within 30 seconds. customers evaluate the organization. Abandons: This is the percentage of the The customer today is sophisticated, picky, and total customers (incoming calls) who hang extremely hard to please, thanks to globalization, up before the call is answered. the digital and technology boom and a multitude of product, brand and service options. Customer Relationship between SL and Abandons: loyalties have become fickle, and organizations SL and Abandons are inversely proportional. have to go an extra mile or perhaps even a The higher the SL the lower is the abandon hundred to win, more importantly, retain rate, as shown in the graph below: customers. As the first point-of-contact between the customer and the organization, the contact SL versus Abandons center thus assumes a very key position as a NCA% 120% SL% service channel. 100% Contact Center: At the Revenue 80% Generation Cross-roads% Calls 60% Despite the role it plays in creating customer satisfaction, the contact center occupies a 40% strangely contradictory position in the revenue generation cycle. It is as much an important 20% source of revenue as it is a cost center! For 0% organizations, therefore, it is a challenging task to ensure that the skew does not swing too much Source: WNS data towards the contact center being the cost center. Winning organizations are those that are able to Average Speed of Answer (ASA): Measures work around challenges and create an ecosystem the average amount of time the callers wait that drives the contact center into becoming a in queue or on hold before their calls or chat revenue generating center. This is true for both requests are answered. captives as well as third-party BPOs. Customer Tolerance: Measures the time customers would typically wait in the queue before they decide to hang up. 1
  3. 3. The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) ChallengesContact Center Analytics: Schedule Adherence: A schedule is a time plan for the nine hours that an agentTracking and Analyzing Metrics of typically spends in office. All the productivethe New Age Contact Center and non-productive activities, therefore, have a certain pre-defined start and stopGiven the position the new age contact center time. Schedule Adherence is a measure ofoccupies in the customer lifecycle and revenue the variance between the ‘actual time’ of thegeneration mesh, it becomes imperative for activity versus the ‘planned time’ of activity,enterprises to track and improve upon the call where both the start time and the stop timecenter’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI). are tracked. For example, if the agent was to be on a call from 1400 - 1430 hours,The list of contact center metrics may seem tad but had to take a break during such time,long, but contact center managers, in particular, it would be captured as 30 minutes ofand enterprises in general, cannot afford to non-adherence.ignore any of these, as revenue and customersatisfaction are closely tied to each metric. Line Adherence: Defines the number ofAll activities in the contact center must be agents scheduled during a given time of theeffectively measured and analyzed to enable day (normally blocks of 15 or 30 minutes)marketing, sales and other decision-making to be on calls. Line Adherence measures thedepartments to use the ‘contact center analytics’ variance between the number of agentsto make critical management decisions, which actually on calls versus the number ofensure that the following two key deliverables for agents planned to be on calls. Linethe contact center are met: adherence offsets the non-adherence ofMaximizingn revenues while keeping costs low agents. Line adherence ensures that even if and staying profitable an agent, scheduled to take a call at say 1410 hours is away, his absence isKeepingn Customer Satisfaction (C-Sat) high accounted for by another agent, who fills up and creating customer delight (to retain, grow for him. business and earn referrals) Occupancy: Occupancy is the percentage of the agents total time in the day (minus all planned off-phone activity) that is spent on a productive / on call activity. By definition it is: (Total Talk Time + Hold Time + After Call Work) / (Total Talk Time + Hold Time + After Call Work) + (Available Time) Available Time: Implies the time for which the agent was logged into the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and was available to take a call, but did not receive a call. | 2
  4. 4. WFM - The Basics, The Challenges and Tips to Overcome ThemWorkforce Management or WFM in the context of the contact center comprises four key processes: 1 3 4 2 WFM Forecasting Scheduling Performance Change and Planning Analytics Management P ling Perfo er du rma he nc for g gic Plannin Sc eA m nal ance Man yt Planning Workforce ics Management (WFM) rate ag St em e ntThough the WFM function can be broadly The key to turning the contact center into acategorized into four straightforward steps, in revenue-generating hub despite the challengesreality, the process is far from being simple and lies with having effective WFM processes run bystraight-forward. Complexities arise at each step an efficient team. With its long-standingof the WFM processes owing to the number of experience in contact center and workforcemetrics that are controlled and impacted by management, WNS has identified four keyWFM. The outsourcing manager and / or the challenges that outsourcing managers / contactcontact center manager thus have to center managers are constantly faced with. Thiscontinuously deal with many important, but WNS guide throws light on tackling these trickydifficult questions. challenges efficiently and effectively.3
  5. 5. The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) Challenges 1 4 CHALLENGES 2 3 Challenge 1: What is a Measure of Good Performance? WNS suggests a few simple strategies for determining the measure of good performance and using it strategically to differentiate from competition and retain high-value customers: (a) Collate data on the SL provided by competitors in the same industry, for the same type of service (Travel and Hospitality, Retail, Consumer Products, Telecom as the case may be) and the medium ofSL is essentially (and should be) a measure of the communication chosen by the customer andtolerance level of a customer when contacting a only then arrive at the benchmark for yourcustomer service center. It is part of the expectation contact center. You need to decide on the SLthe customer has and influences C-Sat. benchmark depending on whether yourSL would also depend on the contact medium organization wants SL to be a ‘differentiator’chosen. For instance, a call or a chat would be for the end-customer and if there is value inmore real-time; whereas an e-mail or a white ‘investing’ in it.mail communication could be spread over days. (b) Another strategy is to sieve out premiumThe SL goal, therefore, should be in line with the and high-value customers by revenue,‘customer expectation’ and ‘tolerance’ depending profit, references and / or any other criteriaon the ‘urgency’ of the need / response and the and strategically provide them a better SL.type of product or service. | 4
  6. 6. Challenge 2: How Consistently Should I Provide Superior Service Level and Customer Experience? It may seem that a similar level of SL is required through a 24/7 window to ensure consistency in customer experience. However, as you keep increasing the demand on SL consistency from a monthly frequency to a weekly, daily or intra-day interval, you will need to deploy a larger number of resources. This will get you into a diminishing marginal utility situation – for each incremental dollar spent, the incremental benefit will keep reducing. Also, another important factor to bear in mind is that customer ‘tolerance’ may be different depending on the time of the day and day of the week. Therefore, understanding customer behavior and tolerance is critical. WNS suggests that rather than increasing the headcount to handle more number of calls across 120% Monthly versus Interval Level SL Monthly SL Interval SL 100% 80%Service Level 60% 40% 20% 0% 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 :0 0 0: 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 The HC Required to Meet SL at an Interval Level May Be Higher by 15-17 Percent vs. Meeting a Monthly SL Goalthe 24/7 window, it is a better alternative to look provided with a consistent experience in terms ofat providing a consistent service level during the wait time without really increasing the cost.peak calling hours. This ensures that customersget a consistent experience when they call While some organizations use the above strategyduring a specific window rather than any time as a means of providing a more consistentof the day or week. experience during peak windows, this can be used as a tool to shape demand and customerSince the bulk of the volume is within this time calling behavior.period, a larger percentage of customers can be There may be other inherent ‘controllable’ processes / metrics that drive a demand pattern,5
  7. 7. The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) Challengeswhich if tweaked smartly, either by you as a by customer behavior. At times, organizations alsobusiness or by your outsourcing partner can cut chase the design along with the output metric.costs for contact center operations and provide a The focus, however, must truly be on the outputmore consistent experience to the callers. metric. Efforts can also be made to ensure efficiency in others. If one chases the inputWhile SL is an output metric, others like schedule metrics (like Line Adherence), at times,adherence, line adherence, occupancy are all part the output metric (in this case SL) may beof the staffing pattern designed to deliver a certain over-achieved and at a higher cost.SL goal. In certain cases, organizations focus onmetrics like calls abandoned and ASA, which areoften, by-products of the SL or are purely triggered Challenge 3: How Do I Staff 80 Intra-day Staffing 70 to meet SL and Line Adherence 60 50 Staffing 40 HC to meet SL HC to meet LA 30 20 10 0 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30 11:00 11:30 12:00 12:30 13:00 13:30 14:00 14:30 15:00 15:30 16:00 16:30 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:30 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 The Headcount (HC) Required to Meet a Certain Interval Level Staffing Confirmance (Line Adherence - LA) is 12 Percent Higher Than What Is Required to Meet the SL, Which Should Be the End Objective. If One Chooses to Go with Delivery of Line Adherence, the Cost of Operations Increases Appropriately Keeping Parameters Like Business Interest, Law of the Land, People Satisfaction and Cost in Mind? How Do I Maximize Revenue and E-Sat at the Same Time? | 6
  8. 8. This is perhaps the most important question that The bottom-line is that you can never have onebaffles WFM teams. Forecasting and scheduling, set plan despite standardizing, staffing andkeeping multiple parameters like C-Sat, E-Sat, law scheduling, forecasting and meeting SL goals.of the land and costs in mind, can be an uphill task. Organizational and business dynamics will have an impact on the long-term capacity planning,Here WNS looks at some key situations and you will need to customize your staffing andencountered and puts forth some possible scheduling based on the immediate businessstrategies to counter the challenges. needs and the environmental forces.Intra-day call arrival forecasting is the coreactivity behind creating schedules to ensure that Challenge 4: How Do I ManageSL goals are met. However, there may be certain Contractual Staffing (Basisevents that trigger a change in intra-day callarrival pattern. The change could be seasonal or Forecasts) and Keep Costs Undercyclical in nature, and therefore, predictable. Control Simultaneously?Some of the variance may be purely withinstatistical limits and must not be readtoo much into, unless there is a sustainedpattern observed over a period of time, whichthen calls for an adjustment in the forecast andrequires scheduling.In case of short-term blips, before makingdecisions, detailed discussions must be heldbetween all parties in the partnership(business - outsourcing service provider) andavailable options (cross skilling and flex-upthrough onshore, nearshore, offshore teams)weighed out against the overall outcome and onlythen should the agents be moved around tomaximize alignment to the changed call pattern. In a typical contact center scenario, managersAnother risk, business managers and WFM are required to meet 110 percent or more of themanagers on either side run, is when trying to forecasted call volume. This can be a challengedetermine when and how much to tweak schedules. on either side:This becomes an even more critical parameter in anenvironment, which does not embrace frequent In a dropping volume scenario: Contact centerchange. Lifestyles are fast changing and managers are saddled with a higher cost oforganizations are expected to be more and more operation if they staff up to 110 percent of theemployee-friendly, allowing employees more room for forecasted volume and they receive onlywork-life balance, and this puts a further constraint 90 percent of the forecasted call volume.on how much scheduling flexibility (efficiency) is In an increasing volume scenario: Contact centeravailable (achievable). managers are potentially exposed to penalties depending on the contractual agreement.In addition, geography, transport, local labor lawsare the other important parameters thatinfluence strategizing and scheduling.7
  9. 9. The WNS Guide to Tackling the 4 Trickiest Workforce Management (WFM) ChallengesIn either scenario, both the contact center worried about customer satisfaction and lostmanager and the outsourcing manager are in a revenue, more so in a sales environment.dilemma. In the first instance, while the contactcenter manager is worried about cost of operation It would be ideal to deal with this dilemma byand dipping margins, the outsourcing manager having a consensus between both parties bywould be worried about paying for the minimum mutually drafting the clauses in the Statement ofnumber of calls committed. Work (contract). This will ensure that both parties are on an even ground and there is aIn the second instance, while the contact center partnership approach in creating the forecast formanager would be thinking about a ‘possible’ the business. It would also make good sense tolost revenue opportunity or penalties on SL, in have regular discussions around factors thatcontrast, the outsourcing manager would be impact forecasting and scheduling.WFM – Much More Than MIS; a Leading Business FunctionApart from helping outsourcing and contact and other functions like Operations, Training,center managers cope with the four tricky Finance, Talent Acquisition, IT and Facilities isquestions mentioned above, WFM plays a key critical to managing a large part of cost for therole in budgeting, forecasting, controlling costs contact center delivery and growth (revenue)and most importantly maintaining profitability while maintaining profitability. Additionally, WFMand influencing C-Sat. can effectively control all productivity metrics to improve revenue per FTE (read margins) byHeadcount is the single largest cost that ties into providing real-time visibility to the Operationsother overheads like support staff, seats, IT team that directly controls agent performancebandwidth, hiring cost, rewards and penalties and behavior.and, therefore, the communication between WFMPartner with the ExpertWith a large client base that it creates contactcenter solutions for, WNS is a front-runner inworkforce Management. Read the case studybelow to see how a leading global cosmeticscompany enhanced customer satisfaction withWNSs WFM model on forecasting:The Client:A Leading Global Cosmetics CompanyThe Challenge:The client was generating a call volume for itsAustralia and New Zealand (ANZ) business,which was running at a 21 percent MAPE*.The client needed to have the MAPE reduced toget a better grip on the call forecast.*MAPE: Mean Absolute Percentage Error | 8
  10. 10. The Premise: Calendar n of events that impacted the call volume historically. For instance, operationalWNS had been doing similar work for the same issues like shipping delays that cause short-client for their Germany business and WNSs term increase in call volume followed by a dropmodel proved to be successful. Basis theexperience, WNS got a recommendation to Historical call volume available, helped incarry out the same model for the clients exhaustive quantitative analysis to assess andANZ business. deploy the forecast model that worked best for the client. This was followed by discussing andThe WNS Solution: agreeing on a governance mechanism and aWNS partnered with the client to create a step- sign-off from the client on the forecast volumesby-step methodology to help achieve improved created by WNS. The model yielded therates of accuracy in call forecasts. The proposed below-mentioned benefits to the client:methodology was to analyze a number ofcustomer data points like: Benefits Delivered:Customern information With the implementation of the new model, forecastSalesn and marketing spends and its variance reduced from 21 percent MAPE to impact on volume 9 percent MAPE for a 60 day out forecast (Fig. 1). Forecast Accuracy40% Before (Client Forecasting) After (WNS Forecasting)30%20%10% 0%-10%-20%-30% MAPE: 21% MAPE: 9%-40%-50% Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12Fig. 1: Forecast Accuracy Levels for Client Improved with WNSs New ModelThe new forecast model also:Helpedn better trending available for a long-term modelImprovedn potential opportunity to use agent time in other productive activitiesThe overall benefit was enhanced customer satisfaction in the ANZ geography.9
  11. 11. About WNSWNS (Holdings) Limited (NYSE: WNS), is a leading globalbusiness process outsourcing company. WNS offers businessvalue to 200+ global clients by combining operationalexcellence with deep domain expertise in key industryverticals including Travel, Insurance, Banking and FinancialServices, Manufacturing, Retail and Consumer PackagedGoods, Shipping and Logistics and Healthcare and Utilities.WNS delivers an entire spectrum of business processoutsourcing services such as finance and accounting,customer care, technology solutions, research and analyticsand industry specific back office and front office processes.WNS has over 25,000 professionals across 31 deliverycenters worldwide including China*, Costa Rica, India,Philippines, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka,United Kingdom and the United States.* China: Delivered through a joint-venture.WNS Contact Center SolutionsWNS has a strong track record of supporting customer carefunctions of global businesses across multiple industries.WNS leverages a combination of technology, analytics,process excellence and a strong talent pool to help clientswith their most challenging customer support requirementsin todays multi-channel customer service environment.WNS innovates constantly to bring to clients neweravenues of creating customer satisfaction and enhancingROI. Two such offerings from the WNS stable are:ProGenie: ProGenie is WNSs proprietary tool for UnifiedWeb Engagement. ProGenie is a customized Web plug-infor real-time customer engagement that helps onlinevisitors navigate the Website effectively: make a purchaseor resolve a service need.Social Customer Service: WNSs range of platform-basedcustomer service offerings for social channels include:Social Analytics, Brand Representation, Brand Monitoring,Customer Services and Community Management.
  12. 12. © Copyright 2013 WNS (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved