Back Office Scheduling: A Critical Element in Your Overall Operational Efficiency
Every organization is different, especially when it comes to staffing requirements and performance goals for your specific operational needs. Making sure you have the right number of employees with the right skill sets scheduled to perform your back office functions at any given time can be challenging. The task is made even harder if you cannot access the staffing level you needed yesterday, last week, last month, last season or last year as the basis for your forecasting.
Enterprise Workforce Management (EWM) solutions can and do increase operational efficiency and productivity, make performance tracking easier and assist in improving the overall customer experience in the front office, but customer experience does not end with your contact center. It is also impacted by and includes the business processes that are conducted in your back office. Depending on your particular industry, these can include functions such as loan administration, claims processing and finance, to name just a few.
Now more than ever, it is vital for organizations to properly forecast workloads and schedule their back office employees based on those workload forecasts, track adherence to their schedules in real time, and streamline the workflow between front and back offices. Without these efforts, customer experience will suffer, as will efficiency, productivity and employee retention for both front and back office teams.
Enterprise Workforce Management Challenges
As new technologies are introduced and organizations implement new solutions using those technologies, hoping to solve specific operational challenges, the end result can be a loosely integrated collection of systems. In such an environment where each element was not necessarily designed to work with the others, many varied issues can surface, including high costs, technology and staffing inefficiencies, low or poor quality performance, and perhaps most importantly no real-time view of adherence.
The lack of an expert technology partner to assist with your management of a centralized or dispersed workforce with varying skills presents numerous hurdles when assessing and comparing back office performance, as well as in developing and implementing strategies to improve performance.
Forecasting and scheduling should be the central nervous systems of your business. The best EWM providers incorporate screen capture to generate average handle times (AHT) data for back office functions. This makes EWM forecastable. With real-time adherence analytics available by individual and key performance indicator (KPI), it is easy for managers and supervisors to see how their teams are performing against established targets and goals.
In a nutshell, you want your EWM to automate manual processes, integrate data collected from employee work stations, improve forecast accuracy, enable managers to view and manage resource capacity and empower team members to improve their performance.
A number of key functions are crucial in the toolkit you select, if you want to improve forecast accuracy, streamline your planning process, enable supervisors to monitor team member activities in real time and properly view and manage your resource capacity. Some of these key functions for back office scheduling include:
- Integration with desktop process management applications to automatically calculate average handle time (AHT) and provide for this data to be forecastable.
- Accurate calculations for the number of team members necessary to process work items in single- and multi-site environments.
- Support for all scheduling environments, as well as the optimization of all task assignments.
- Utilization of sophisticated forecasting algorithms that can handle complex scheduling variables to ensure that the right number of team members with the necessary skills are scheduled to handle the forecasted workload based on your appropriate service level goals.
After all, your goals are to achieve significant positive results in vital areas such as:
- The reduction of administrative time required and an increase in supervisor productivity through the use of automation and the streamlining of manual tasks needed for forecasting and the management of resource capacity.
- More effective management of resources and cost reductions associated with overtime and overstaffing through improvements in forecast accuracy.
- Gains in overall employee satisfaction and improved retention rates through the empowerment of employees to self-manage their own scheduling and time off requests.
- Increased employee productivity as a result of comprehensive leveraging of data sets for assessing performance, identifying skill gaps and measuring and tracking improvements over time.
- Improved customer satisfaction ratings resulting from the streamlining of back office tasks such as application approval, claims processing, order fulfillment, etc.
In addition, you need a toolkit that also includes a number of key capabilities to help improve your strategic planning, provide visibility into your operational performance versus objectives, gain insight into specific areas needing additional focus, as well as verification that your back office performance is properly aligned with your overall business objectives. These can and should include the following:
- The screening and configuration of data capture enabling you to associate an AHT with a variety of tasks and interaction types.
- Built-in KPIs and other metrics to assess and track individual, team, department and overall business performance.
- Scorecards for back office workers to view their current and past performance and how it has changed over time.
- Performance dashboards that supervisors and managers can use for quick, at-a-glance views of performance with drill-down capabilities by employee or by KPI.
- Customizable reports for supervisors, managers and executives
Additional features that should factor in to your purchase decision:
- The ability to generate staffing forecasts using AHT data based on total interaction time, including screens and keystrokes.
- The capability to track how employees follow their schedules and work toward achieving their objectives by monitoring real-time schedule adherence.
- The availability of actionable, real-time performance analytics to help you make smarter decisions about staffing and resource management.
- The ability to aggregate a complete and detailed view of all performance data in a single database tied to your contact center, or each contact center.
- Aid in improving employee performance by enabling team members to identify and address skill gaps and work to improve their areas of weakness.
- Provide automation of routine tasks and performance reporting (hourly, daily, weekly, etc.) for all desired internal audiences, which can significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs.
Superior customer experience starts with properly forecasting and scheduling back office staff. Front office and back offices team need to work in concert to ensure optimal performance, efficiency and productivity. Plus, the workflow needs to be streamlined as much as possible between the to. It's a balancing act to optimize customer experience, control costs and maximize efficiency, and to make it all work, you need the right tools.
ABOUT PIPKINS, INC. Founded in 1983 and based in St. Louis, Missouri, Pipkins is a leading provider of WFM solutions for the contact center industry. Today, Pipkins' systems forecast, plan and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.pipkins.com.