What is Workforce Management (WFM) in a call center?

Workforce management in a call center enables the call center manager to plan and organize the optimum number of agents and their schedules to manage the operations efficiently.

How many call center agents should my call center have? This is one burning question that almost every call center manager worries about.

A disproportionate number of agents to call volumes could toss the call center’s efficiency out of balance.

There is one reason why call center managers are unable to determine their workforce requirements with precision.

Call volumes fluctuate without any certainty. Even during non-holiday seasons, it will rise and fall with a mind of its own. Of course, a call center dashboard might help you determine the average number of calls and call handling time of your call center.

But, your call center agents need to work in shifts to handle calls coming at various shifts. If you are phone support for all customers around the world, you would definitely have agents working in multiple shifts each pertaining to different time zones.

This complicates the resource planning and management for a call center.

It is here that workforce management can help.

What is Workforce management (WFM)?

Workforce management is a set of tools and processes that an organization (typically a cell center) uses to optimize the productivity and efficiency of its employees. In a call center environment, workforce management is used to forecast call volumes and to assign sufficient resources (read: call center agents) to tackle calls.

For instance, how many agents would the call center need during the UK shift to handle inbound call traffic? Workforce management helps answer this question.

Why do call centers need workforce management?

In one line, workforce management enables call centers to reduce TCO and improve RoI. Here are some purposes for which a call center would need workforce management.

1. For predicting resource requirement

The primary benefit of workforce management is that enables a call center manager to forecast the number of agents required to handle the call volume. By hiring and maintaining the optimum number of agents, the manager would be able to achieve the service level targets of the call center. Also, there would be minimal pressure on the existing agents to handle calls when the volumes increase unpredictably.

2. For managing remote workers

Gone are the days when employees were required to be physically present in their desks to show that work is done. During the past 5 years or so, the corporate world has become amicable to the fact that remote work is the way forward. Modern cloud phone systems are also simplifying the task of setting up virtual teams of call center agents who do not share space in a physical office.

From a call center’s perspective, remote work facilitates setting up a virtual team of call center agents. These agents could be located in far corners of the world and have the necessary linguistic and cultural background to serve customer needs. A workforce management software can help the call center manager manage the working hours, leaves, and even the performance of remote workers.

3. For meeting service level targets

Service level is the target that call centers chase to measure and optimize their efficiency. It is basically an internal target set by call centers to ensure that their service quality is maximum.

Workforce management helps in determining the optimum number of agents required at each shift of the call center to maintain service levels. The proper planning of resources helps the call center stay prepared for unplanned overtime, staff vacations, and spikes during holiday seasons and so on.

4. For improving customer service

Phone support is infamous for making callers wait forever before getting connected to a human agent. The truth is, call centers have nothing against callers to put them on hold for a long duration. When call volumes are high and there are not enough agents to handle it, the call center does not have an option but to put callers on hold. Workplace management enables the call center manager to have a strategic approach to determining the workforce requirement to tackle call volumes at peak and at lows.

5. For achieving cost-efficiency

One of the biggest expenses of a call center is the salary and compensation to be paid for agents. So, if the call center has too many agents than what it actually needs, the cost efficiency will go for a toss.

Workforce Management (WFM) helps figure out the optimum number of agents the call center would need to balance the call volumes without stretching the agents’ call handling capacity. As a result, it helps the business achieve cost efficiency as well.

In a nutshell

Traditionally, businesses relied on spreadsheets to plan shifts and the number of staff for each staff in each shift. Needless to say, this was an inefficient way since the risk of data being lost, the use of redundant data and the possibility of manual errors were high.

Workforce management introduces a comprehensive way of managing shifts and agent schedules in a call center. It helps improve the productivity of call center agents while helping the call center manager to strike a balance between cost efficiency and call center performance.

Note to the reader: Freshcaller does not have Workforce Management capabilities right now. If you have any specific requests, feel free to write to support@freshcaller.com. You will hear from us without much delay.

About Freshcaller

Freshcaller is a modern-day reimagining of a call center software for customer support, sales, IT, and HR teams. With its cloud-based architecture, Freshcaller brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting to help you set up state-of-the-art phone operations. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.

If you want to find out more about what we do, check out www.freshcaller.com.

Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman.

If this blog interests you, we believe you would be excited to read our eBook as well. Our latest eBook gives insights into how you can optimize your call center efficiency.