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Start Unlocking the Incremental Value of a WFO Suite

  • 4 min read

In January 2005 Witness Systems completed the acquisition of Blue Pumpkin, bringing together traditionally siloed agent evaluation (often referred to as quality management or QM) and workforce management software domains to create arguably the first example of a viable “Workforce Optimization” solution. Shortly after this, NICE Systems acquired IEX and Witness was itself acquired by Verint. The market grew to be a sizable multi-billion dollar chunk of the overall customer service market.

As Gartner’s lead analyst for WFO back then I spent many years advising and assessing the software vendors and helping end user organizations with their WFO projects. Key to me was the fact this marriage of functionality brought together a theoretical value greater than the sum of the parts. Yes, organizations would get value from evaluating agents and identifying training opportunities and yes organizations would get value from forecasting and scheduling to meet operational service efficiency goals but there was also incremental value to be had from these two functions working seamlessly together. This was the premise I was excited about and nurtured within my WFO research.

There are numerous examples of the associated cross domain functionality (and resultant value) that can only be achieved through tight integration between these 2 previously siloed worlds. For example, the concept of performance based scheduling is based on this whereby taking an employees’ actual performance into account (as measured via the evaluation program) a better schedule can be derived compared to simply using a generic skillset. Another example would be having the option to automatically schedule identified training needs based on severity – ie ranging from  “do before their next call” to “do sometime this week” to “do any time when service levels are being exceeded over the next 3 months”.

Not Seeing the Value

The problem back then was organizations belittled this incremental value and focused primarily on the core functional requirements of each domain in isolation. This was in part due to the siloed operational hierarchies where the QM manager just wanted the best recording and evaluation software for their team and the WFM manager (who had probably never met the QM manager) just wanted the best WFM tool for their department. Sometimes suites were bought but this primarily was driven (and still is today) by the lure of “one throat to choke”, preferential suite pricing and associated contract negotiation opportunities.

I would urge all contact center managers to pay more attention to this potential incremental value as they shortlist technology and process improvement projects for 2024. In a world where we need to squeeze every last drop of value from our limited budgets why wouldn’t you?

Embrace the Change

Much has changed in the market since those early days – WFO suites became broader incorporating interaction analytics for automated evaluation, gamification and even AI-driven interaction assistance capabilities plus of most importance of all its rebranding to become Workforce Engagement Management (WEM). This huge shift is too big to do justice to here and I will  cover in another blog soon.

One important change not mentioned above is where this functionality is procured from. Suite vendors still exist but increasingly WFO technology is bought from CCaaS or even CEC vendors as part of an even broader “one throat to choke” value proposition. Theoretically there should be another level of elevation in incremental value than can be achieved when WFO is part of these even broader suites but again this is seldomly factored in. For example, using an agent’s low evaluation score or imminent end of shift to influence the routing engine or perhaps the onscreen CRM process they follow are logical considerations but hardly any contact centers leverage this potential.

Wouldn’t it be great if an agent with only 2 minutes left on their shift doesn’t get routed a complaint call that will likely take at least 5 minutes to resolve. Wouldn’t it be great if an agent whose recent evaluations show they are struggling with upsell calls doesn’t get routed a qualified lead only to fail again.

These are somewhat obvious but even so seldomly undertaken “value add” considerations. At Actionary we can help ensure your WFO program not only delivers the value it deserves but also feed into an even broader and higher value overarching customer service strategy.

The Author

Jim is an avid follower of all things customer and employee experience. His passion is in writing research and sharing thought leading insights.