Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Work Force Management: Business Impact

If you have been following the series of my articles on the business of running a successful business, then you have hopefully understood the power of the 'customer'. Confident that you have done so, I further take the poetic license of taking a cue from Abe Lincoln, believing that: "..the thought - business of the customers, by the customers, for the customers - shall never perish from your mind".

If you subscribe to the above tenet, then your Customer Interaction MUST be an integral part of your business, so much so that Customer Interactions must be core to your business.

What has Work Force Management (WFM) got to do with this belief? A great deal, as a matter of fact. Because you believe in making the customer your advocate, and you believe that customer is the key to your success, and you believe that Customer Interactions are core to your business, then you have definitely been putting resources to ensure the core of your business is delivering on, and exceeding, the expectations.

However, if the business of managing the resources is not done appropriately, then there is a risk you are running. Either the resources might be too many, or they might be too few. The latter indicates you are deviating from the Abe Lincoln tenet (under poetic license - of course..); while the former is a disservice to your investors - another key stakeholder community.

To make the matters more complex, your contact center managers have to keep striking this balance every half-hour of the day, for every day of the week, for every week of the month, for every month of the year.. And without the proper tools at their command, try hard as they might, they are constantly making errors in this balancing act, errors that keep swinging your business through the extremes of customer disservice and investor disservice.

WFM is that magic platform that you can implant beneath your wonderful customer interaction management team, to take their performance, and with it your business, to new heights.

Ever heard of the principle of "the power of one"? If your customer service level is down in the dumps, you can substantially improve it by just adding one more Agent/CSR/Phone Banking Officer/.... (For a related discussion on the underlying Erlang formula, refer Convincing an Erlang Non-Believer). Of course the customer interaction team cannot produce that 'one' resource - at the critical juncture - out of thin air. It has to be planned in advance.

That is the power that a good WFM suite will bring into your business equation. By accurately forecasting the interactions by half-hourly intervals (based on past data), and by accurately determining exactly how many Agents/CSRs/PBOs.. are required (not too many, not too little), WFM creates a schedule of the available resources, and later tracks how those resources adhere to their assigned schedule - so that you first achieve, and then systematically keep improving on this 'customer-investor' balancing act.

And WFM will be but a one time investment, with some incremental additions basis future resource growth (a minor detail because WFM platforms are licensed on number of resources you have). But consider this investment against the constant unintentional errors your stressed and overworked customer interaction team is committing, and will keep on committing, unless you intervene with a suitable remedy.

Can you win any game whilst you continue to make unforced errors? Is it worth taking the risk of not having WFM? Think about WFM as your next business investment.


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