Part II – The Secret to Right-Sizing your Contact Center Staffing

It’s possible for organizations to come up with their own staffing formulas, just like it’s possible for anyone to drive an articulated truck, but there is a reason companies employ trained and qualified drivers to keep their fleets on the road and their products moving.”

Patient calls to Contact Centers aren’t neatly and evenly spaced apart, so how do you make intelligent, reasoned decisions about staffing, capacity, and efficiency, and deliver an excellent patient experience?

We continued our conversation with Xander Goldberg, our Workforce Management (WFM) expert, on how workforce management and optimization can improve patient experience while keeping costs of your Healthcare Contact Center in line.

Last time we spoke, you talked about organizations using simple math to come up with staffing. What stops an organization from coming up with their own unique formula for solving staffing requirements?

Nothing – if you have infinite time, money, patience among senior leadership, and a middle management that’s willing to watch an organization go through many iterative phases before settling in on what’s “right”, you’ll eventually find something that works. But most organizations have none of these things in infinite supply.

What is so tricky about organizations coming up with their own method for calculating staffing?

Okay, let’s go back to our 20k-calls-per-week Center, where the agents’ average capacity is about 200 calls/week. Instead of 200 calls/week, we’ll assume our agents only take 150 calls/week, to account for all the reasons that an agent might not be able to hit 200 in any given week. Compared to using an efficiency of 200 calls/week, we’ll get extra agents with this padding which should allow us to space agents out across the entire week and the entire daily spectrum that demands coverage. And if we’re wrong, we’ll just keep playing with this number until we find what’s “right”.

I see two problems with this method.

This over-simplification doesn’t allow for component trending over time, to find out why in any one week the average agent could answer 160 calls but the following week could only average 140 calls (and so on down the line).

Secondly, I challenge anyone to propose this to their nearest finance analyst for approval. Try explaining to a member of senior leadership this “I’m just winging it until I find what works” method of approving headcount.

Consider this: do your agents work every single day? While they may be scheduled to work every day, agents will do things like call off, take PTO or Leaves of Absence, utilize FMLA, arrive late, and leave early. How do you even begin to incorporate all these variables into the “average agent takes X calls per week” model?

And when they do show up, what about breaks, lunches, trainings, coaching, meetings, one-on-ones, focus groups, and town halls? Furthermore, how do we account for the fact that some agents are simply faster at handling calls than other agents? If an agent has 200 calls last week and 120 calls this week, are they a good agent or an underperforming agent? Is it even possible to tell whether they’re meeting expectations or falling short with so little information? That’s exactly what we’re doing when we try to force-fit every agent into a model where they answer X calls each week.

But the alternative sounds expensive and complex?

WFM is a smart investment and will have a return on investment in the form of improved efficiencies for the business, better decision-making regarding staffing, and identifying performance outliers among staff. As for complex, effective WFM is not something that’s built overnight.

While it’s possible for organizations to come up with their own staffing formulas, just like it’s possible for anyone to drive an articulated truck, for example, but there is a reason companies employ trained and qualified drivers to keep their fleets on the road moving their products around the country v’s. someone who is merely really clever.

 

What is Workforce Management and how can it help you optimize your Call Center staffing?

 

WFM concerns itself with the forecasting, scheduling, real-time management, and reporting necessary for any Contact Center to make intelligent, reasoned decisions about staffing, capacity, and efficiency. WFM is component of a broader field known as Workforce Optimization (WFO), which allows Centers to further their understanding by including QA, training, voice and speech analytics, agent behavior reporting, and dashboards to data accessible to the appropriate leaders in the appropriate framework.

 

To find out how WFM/WFO can help you, contact the RelateCare team.  We can help organizations of all sizes and budgets.  Let us help you build the best patient experience possible with the data to support all your tough staffing decisions.  info@relatecare.com

 

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