What are the Biggest Obstacles that the Call Center Industry is Facing?

Often a question that comes up is “are the challenges im facing, happening anywhere else?”

Well judging by the linkedin discussion i was reading this week, yes!  Many people have similar expeirences in the call center and through sharing we can help others.

Some points that i got from it are: 

Greg Samos – I believe the largest obstacle is distinguishing the difference between Workforce Planning and Workforce Management in both, responsibilities and metrics. (assuming both functions are performed within the same company, ie. no outsourcing)

Workforce Planning includes the disciplines of Forecasting, Scheduling, and Intraday/Intraweek Analysis of Resources required to meet stated service objectives within the business. It is an outside looking in approach in an effort to provide cost-effective recommendations as to how the business could manage their resources short-term and long-term.

Workforce Management is basically the business. In other words, Contact Center managers “managing the workforce”. This includes long-term recruitment decisions all the way through real-time management of agent activity and adherence in response to the recommendations provided by the WFP team. The WFM team owns the decision making process and has the right to accept or bypass the WFP team’s recommendation in part or in entirety to ensure the business goals are met while keeping agent morale high.

Both are extremely important, and should be independent of each others. i.e. Planners do not report to business managers, nor should the impression be that the business managers are the ‘clients’ of the planners. From what I understand, a lot of companies merge and blend these two different disciplines and interchange the terms quite often. I think it’s very common in smaller, single site contact centers where cultural differences are absent and communication is frequent and personal between the planners and managers. If it’s working, great, but I sense that planners and managers, in general, have some frustrations with where certain roles and responsibilities lie.

In short, the largest obstacle is determining and maintaining the differences between Planning and Managing the workforce. Both departments have the same service level objectives and customer satisfaction in mind but planners are to be objective while the managers add the subjectivity and make the final decision. This delineation opens up the opportunity for WFP principles and services to be adopted into other areas of the company rather than perpetuating the perception that WFx is only for call centers.

Kerry-Ann Mcleod – Poor Leadership – Some of our leader are of the opinion that the title of a Director, Manager or Supervisor is enough to get the job done. They do not understand the importance of learning the bottom line (what is important to make the business succeed) therefore it makes it difficult for them to implement effective change within the call center environment. To create an effective call center environment there has to be a change in leadership approach to their jobs..Leaders are challenged to create a high achieving climate, to take charge, set ambitious goals, obtain higher levels of performance from agents and to create a work environment geared to high achievement through alignment of action and people. Alignment involves comprehension and consistency between words and actions. Leadership is action, not a position or title.. We need to get up and get our hands dirty.. Schedule some time to take a call, talk to your agents (you would be surprise what the have to offer), don’t become complacent because there is an increase in you profit.

Hamid Abdullah – Great points all!! Also the if there is a disconnect between company and the outsourced partner, it can have huge negative impact on the frontline as Outsourced partners will try their utmost to achieve the company goals but when the relationship is not at its best. All efforts should be invested in repairing and and improving it as quickly as possible it shows and affects those employees that yearn to please and are aware of the environment.

Although the Contact Center industry is renowned for its ever changing goals and strategy, there should be some goals and metrics that remains consistent enough to be achieved so not as to demotivate staff by dangling a carrot seems impossible.Ultimately people do not enter any job with failure in mind but need direction for achievement. Actions that reassure staff are also a great way of securing/retaining necessary talent.

This has all been very interesting for me.  I hope what I’ve shared is also interesting for you.

 

 

 

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe