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Keeping Up with Changing Technology in 2016

Presented By: Pipkins, Inc.

Six options for greater control and increased productivity  

By:  Bob Webb, Pipkins, Inc.  

The New Year always seems to mark an opportunity for change.  It’s a new year and we make resolutions to do things differently. Sadly, many resolutions grow cold before they are implemented and soon become an afterthought. If your company has been stuck with outdated technology that no longer matches your needs or capabilities, the New Year is an excellent time to re-evaluate and make substantive changes. 

Software, much like iPhones, seem to go through a revolving door and new options are constantly being introduced. If you are considering an upgrade, start with the basics. In a contact center environment, the most important piece of software is workforce management. It is the hub around which every other solution revolves. If your ability to forecast and schedule is off, nothing else matters. Bottom line profits depend on accurate forecasting.  If you are still using spreadsheets, you could be leaving money on the table and are long overdue for an upgrade in your technology. 

Transition to Workforce Management

Manual reporting processes can be revolutionized through use of a workforce management solution, saving hours of time and labor to effectively deliver multiple dashboards and reports needed by executives. Centers that have used spreadsheets exclusively may believe that their metrics cannot be integrated with a workforce management tool. Workforce management solutions are available that offer spreadsheet integration tools that open reports in Microsoft Excel using data from an Oracle database and allow reports to be created and automatically refreshed in the spreadsheet view. Tools of this nature allow users to upload existing spreadsheets with the formatting already in place, and to create additional tabs with the background data needed to populate the report.  These tabs can be linked to the final report tabs using formulas or VBA scripts. 

Consider Hosted

If you are hesitant to implement a workforce management system because of cost constraints, consider a subscription based solution. Hosted solutions free companies from the burden and expense of installing hardware and software. All hardware and software is installed and maintained by the hosting vendor. This may be especially beneficial for small contact centers that lack the resources to implement and maintain a premise-based enterprise. Many vendors offer a full suite of enterprise software capabilities without the associated cost, and upgrades are offered as part of the package. Your company pays only for what it needs, but the full enterprise capability is available when and if it’s needed.   

Jump on the At-Home Agent Bandwagon

If you have considered using at-home agents, the time is now! The at-home agent revolution has penetrated the contact center industry and it is now easier to implement and manage remote agents through improved technology. The use of at-home agents continues to rise as more companies experience the benefits of decreased costs associated with part-time employees and reduction in brick and mortar facilities, improved customer service, and flexible scheduling options. Companies experience bottom line savings through reduced contact center operating costs.  Reduced operating costs associated with at-home agents include lower starting wages and reduced benefits, less need for brick and mortar facilities and support staff, increased labor pool with flexible scheduling options, and reduced training costs associated with increased agent retention.  Additional cost savings are found with part-time agents who receive reduced benefit packages required for full-time employees. 

Oversight made easy with RTA

Another must-have for contact centers is the ability to monitor agent activity with greater ease. While real-time adherence technology is prevalent, the use of an RTA global view option is essential for centers with over 50 agents. Supervisors can now monitor agents, including remote agents, from one screen that provides a visual display of all agent activity with important metrics that enables easy oversight and correction options. When an agent is out of adherence, the system typically spotlights the discrepancy by a visual device such as color-coding. More comprehensive systems provide important additional information by indicating the nature of the violation (e.g. late start, improper activity, logged out early) as well as the agent’s current state (e.g. ACD inbound, logged off, after-call work) and the duration of the problem.  

Empower your agents

Another important technological advance is the ability to empower agents by increasing their autonomy and giving more life-work balance options. Agents now have the option of self-scheduling that includes vacation time, shift swaps, and overtime without burdensome oversight by supervisors. Studies have suggested this is an important issue in reducing agent attrition.   

Take it with you

Mobile access is another valuable tool that enables users equipped with smart phones or tablets to check agent status at a glance, modify schedules with a click while in meetings or off-site, send messages and notifications and view reports from hundreds of miles away. Supervisors can log changes such as sick days or early releases, view agent schedules, and send popup and email messages with a click from the same grid without navigating to different screens. Reports such as staffing effect summaries, adherence summaries for individual agents or the entire staff, and scheduled and actual activity summary graphs are available from the same control screen.    

Still not convinced? Do some due diligence and talk with vendors about how enhancements can increase productivity and positively impact your bottom line. Be sure to check references and don’t fall for marketing hype. 2016 could be your best year yet.  

About Pipkins

Pipkins, Inc. (www.pipkins.com), an American company founded in 1983, is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry, providing sophisticated forecasting and scheduling technology for both the front and back office.  Vantage Point, Pipkins’ premier product, is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market.  Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 100,000 agents in over 300 locations across all industries worldwide.