Organizations are shifting their KPIs away from those that are transactional – Average Handle Time (AHT) and Average Speed of Answer (ASA) – to those that align more closely with their business priorities, like Net Promoter Score (NPS). Some contact centers have discovered more advanced ways to use metrics like precision queues and attribute-based routing for Workforce Management (WFM) tactics to affect agent turnover by balancing occupancy and utilization. These tactics could help contact centers balance agent experience with customer experience.
Staffing and overall occupancy are vital to the cost management of the contact center. However, if the core business priority is to deliver a good customer experience, contact center management must be more lenient with agents meeting their traditional performance goals; Adherence, AHT and Utilization will sometimes lag if agents are focusing more on improving experience metrics like First Call Resolution (FCR) and customer satisfaction. The historical WFM model may also need to change, and understanding which agents, teams, call types, etc. should receive more leniency in meeting their efficiency goals is key. For example, it would be alright for technical support agents to have high AHT and occupancy if they have excellent quality and survey scores.
On its surface, this type of change may illicit blowback from superiors because it appears to be more expensive – higher occupancy means higher staffing levels – however, the overall number of calls should diminish over time if FCR is improving. Incentivizing agents to provide excellent service rather than speedy service could improve agent retention, contact center morale, and (by extension) the customer experience.
Additionally, advanced call routing tools like Precision Queue and Virtual Routing can match customers and agents based on specific attributes, like previous interactions, agent proficiencies, etc. While this can benefit the customer experience, it may create a disparity in individual agent occupancy. (Inevitably, some agents will be busier than others.) To solve this, WFM teams may need to refine schedules more frequently to meet forecasted volumes, with refinements based on proficiency training, balanced skill levels and tenure between teams. Over time, this will improve the data necessary to identify top performing agents and isolate training opportunities for underperforming agents.
When contact centers shift from expedient service towards attentive service, workforce management may experience some growing pains. Staffing will be in a state of flux until centers find the appropriate occupancy levels for their business goals, but once business priorities and staffing levels have found their balance, the quality of agent work will improve. The next innovation to agent work could be dashboards that use gamification to further motivate agents to meet performance goals and acquire new skills.