The new paradigms changing workforce management

The new paradigms changing workforce management

Relying on yesterday’s workforce management (WFM) paradigms—that work items are synchronous, reside in a single channel, and are processed by a single employee, among other assumptions—creates silos of inaccurate data in an increasingly digital world. The nature of work has changed irrevocably, and traditional WFM paradigms must give way to an entirely new concept of what work is and how it is assigned.

Contact centers looking to meet the new requirements of the increasingly flexible blended digital office are embracing a new way of thinking about workforce management. Among the key tenets of WFM in today’s digital world:

  • Everything has changed for omnichannel and blended environments

Today’s workplace bears little resemblance to that of just a few years ago. The pandemic changed employee and consumer behaviors across generations, making newly tech-savvy Gen X and Boomers just as likely as their younger counterparts to use asynchronous channels like chat or text. This affects not only how people communicate at work (nearly half of the customer service leaders surveyed recently by NICE said the number of support channels agents use has increased over the past two years) but also how they communicate on their own time, with the companies they do business with. At the same time, an increase in remote work has transformed how contact centers manage the workforce and customer contacts alike. All of this is underway as an uncertain economic environment gives organizations a push to embrace scheduling flexibility as a way to enable operational resilience.

  • Bots are becoming more popular

Companies are increasingly using bots to handle simple customer inquiries, which means that more complex customer issues fall to agents. This often translates into longer handle times, which introduce new complexities downstream in WFM processes. Long handle times are particularly challenging for teams using traditional WFM solutions, which operate best when average handle time (AHT) is shorter than the planning interval.

  • Waiting until a contact ends to report activity is too late

With interactions now increasingly digital, interactions can take hours or days—far longer than the typical 15- or 30-minute planning interval. Planning and forecasting in this environment requires WFM teams to stop waiting until the contact ends and start reporting when activity occurs (for example, when an agent responds to a social media post) and report when a contact becomes active again as well (for example, when the customer follows up their social media post with a direct message to the company). This will allow WFM teams to plan and forecast based on patterns of interval-specific activity, not just the number of contacts and the interval in which a contact ends.

  • Work planning and scheduling must be normalized to the smallest planning interval for blended work items

There’s a growing recognition that if you truly want to blend work items, whether that's from your digital office into your contact center or your contact center into your back office, you need a standardized planning interval in order to understand what work needs to be performed, regardless of where it’s being performed. While planning and forecasting in the back office can often be done by the day, contact centers are more sensitive to the 15- or 30-minute interval because they need to deliver good service, consistently, across every interval of every day. By normalizing longer asynchronous work, whether it’s taking place in the contact center or the back office, organizations can work more efficiently by blending work items and cross-utilizing teams from these dissimilar environments.

  • Contacts that span intervals must be decomposed into activity-based work history

Synchronous and asynchronous work items that have a lifespan longer than the planning interval must be decomposed into the interval in which work occurred. This approach, which captures handle time true to the interval and captures the contact in the interval it is answered, enables you to determine accurate interval staffing requirements.

  • Schedules must cover both work item-based and activity-based staffing requirements

Workforce management is in the midst of a transition from being call- or work-item-based to being activity-based. By looking at not only how many work items are being received but also how many work items become active each interval, you can translate every work item into the activity required to complete it. This gives you the ability to generate activity-based staffing requirements.

Each of these new paradigms unlocks new data insights, and NICE WFM’s True to Interval (TTI) Analytics enables contact centers to leverage these insights to forecast, schedule, adapt, respond, and engage more efficiently and effectively. Learn more about how NICE WFM can improve your omnichannel environment.