WFO vs. WEM—what’s in a name? Gain an enhanced understanding of the CX workforce experience

WFO vs. WEM—what’s in a name? Gain an enhanced understanding of the CX workforce experience

What’s in a name? Well, as it turns out . . . a lot! What we call something can shape the way we think about it—and vice versa. Take the term “customer service” for example. This refers to the support a business offers its customers, from the moment it discerns an expression of interest, through the sales process, all the way to the customer’s use of the product or service. When we use the term “customer experience,” however, it turns the same journey on its head, looking at it from the point of view of how the customer perceives, is affected by, and reacts to the process. With this viewpoint, we gain an enhanced understanding of how our customers relate to us, which helps us give them more of what they want to keep them satisfied and loyal.

The same is true when we talk about internal business concepts, such as Workforce Optimization, aka WFO. Historically, WFO has been about operational efficiency. Cynically, this could be reduced to squeezing every ounce of performance from a worker, cracking down on breaktimes, reducing chit chat around the cooler. In practice, it involves ensuring there are enough staff working at any given time to meet the goals of the business, that they work efficiently, and that operational costs are kept to a minimum along the way.

In the world of call centers, WFO solutions typically seek to optimize how agents work using tools like workforce management, quality management, and performance management. It’s a wide-screen, one-size-fits-all view of business success, which is all well and good. But it risks missing the finer details that contribute to that success. After all, the overall performance of a team or business as a whole is made up of the performance of individuals.

This is where the phrase Workforce Engagement Management—WEM—comes in. Coined by Gartner, the term WEM expanded traditional WFO solutions with an employee-centric element that aims to create a better work environment, leading to enhanced CX. By focusing on the workforce experience, we quickly gain a whole new, profound perspective.

The NICE approach

Passionate, devoted members of “Team WEM” at NICE have developed, and continue to develop, a rich suite of cost-effective, future-proof solutions that enable call centers to reach their goal of providing better CX. We keep asking—what do agents want? Our research showed us that what agents look for the most—after better salaries, of course—can all be answered by enhancing engagement.

So, we set about developing a range of WEM solutions that takes a new approach to helping agents excel. Sure, performance metrics and KPIs will always play a significant role in our business. But, the way we achieve them is more collaborative—and therefore more effective.

For all our solutions, AI is the engine that drives their efficacy. DMG explains the importance of AI in their WEM market report: “These technologies harness real-time capabilities that enable enterprises to deliver the responsive and fluid servicing experience that each customer/prospect/partner expects.” Fluid, responsive customer service requires the intelligent assistance of AI.

Smart scheduling

Near the top of agents’ wish lists is the ability to manage their own time. Taking this on board, we took care to empower them with flexibility and control over their schedules, by creating smart scheduling processes that enable them to independently make last-minute changes, bid and trade shifts with automatic approval flows, and even take part in planning processes by adding their preferences and using our availability points practice.

Raising the game

A bit of healthy competition can do wonders to increase performance. Gamifying performance management transforms your work environment into a fun and engaging adventure, rewarding those who take the time to learn new skills and improve their performance.

On-tap call support

Customer interactions can be unpredictable, so we offer agents various real-time assist options if they hit a bump in the road. Enlighten Copilot uses AI to provide up-to-date information, and suggested actions needed to handle an interaction, in a humanized, conversational manner. For example, if a customer refers to a special offer about which the agent is unaware, they simply type in a question, such as, “show me all recent promotions,” and they will be shown the most up-to-date, relevant information.

Similarly, a widget on the supervisor workspace enables supervisors to proactively help improve performance, in real time. For example, it has a function whereby supervisors are alerted to the fact that a customer is unhappy on a call, and they can jump in to monitor and offer guidance to the agent as the interaction proceeds. This gives the agent both the tools and the confidence to complete a call to the customer’s satisfaction.

Made-to-measure solutions

Each agent is an individual, and there is no universally suitable approach to performance management. That’s why we enable transparent, personalized performance assessments, driven by persona analysis, AI, analytics, and data derived from all interactions. We follow this up with tailored coaching plans, whether in groups or one-on-one, which even take into account the agent’s learning preferences and career aspirations.

Mutual benefit

CXone Coaching, an integral part of our quality management solution, provides an intuitive, quantifiable, and results-driven coaching experience, for supervisors and agents alike. In addition to streamlining the whole coaching process with built-in workflows and a smart dashboard, this app enables agents to take an active role in the entire process to ensure they get what they need out of these critical, tailored learning opportunities.

The secret to success

Facilitated by cutting-edge technology, the various components of the NICE WEM offering mentioned above serve to motivate—and enable—agents to perform better, against a backdrop of empowerment and support. They become more accountable, but also more inspired; they are focused on their own performance, but also more dedicated to the success of the business as a whole. Recognizing the investment of the business in them as a person, they feel valued and appreciated, which generally makes them happier—and happy agents make happier customers! 

So, are the terms WFO and WEM interchangeable? Sure, there are those who barely distinguish between the two. But at NICE, we see the shift to WEM as a fundamental change in perception—a change that we wholeheartedly welcome.

Interested in learning more about the latest AI tools to empower your agents? Watch our webinar.