What is Workforce Optimization (WFO) in contact center?

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Manager accessing the WFO suite from his living room

What does Workforce Optimization (WFO) mean?

WFO, or workforce optimization, is comprised of different tightly integrated solutions, business processes, and other contact center technologies that aim to optimize and maximize employee productivity and efficiency.

A group of call center agents taking inbound calls

It's a suite that encompasses different operational aspects that affect business growth. It includes various contact center technologies like:

  • Workforce management
  • Quality management
  • Interaction analytics
  • Performance dashboards
  • Gamification (adding gaming elements to processes)

We’ll expound on these later.

So you see, WFO is not a simple standalone software. It's closer to a unified tech ecosystem that involves different aspects of your contact center working together. With it, you can maximize your workforce so they can also provide the best customer experience.

What is WFO's role in a contact center?

In the past, people looked at call centers in a negative light—you know why. Long wait times, long hold times, dropped calls...the list goes on. And these are just some of the most common problems customers experienced when calling call centers.

But they had no choice; call centers were the only way to get in touch with those  looking for customer service or technical support. And in most cases, they still are.

While the issues mentioned above still persist today, they don't have to. Organizations have started investing in integrating call center software features like automatic call distribution (ACD) and interactive voice response (IVR), and analytics tools like speech and text recognition. An initiative like this gives them more insight into how their contact center operates and recognizes the real problems they wouldn't have seen without this setup.

As a result, they have more flexible scheduling, predictive behavioral routing, and even provide self-service options to relieve agents of simple queries from customers. Of course, there are still some challenges in having all these functionalities.

Your contact center intelligence can become cluttered, unorganized, and simply difficult to use if you have too many tools integrated into your system. It's especially true when you have multiple providers supplying you with different technologies. Among other things, their solutions may not be compatible and even lead to redundancy. This leaves you with a rough patchwork of different tools that you're trying (or more like forcing) to work together.

WFO suites address that problem by providing a single set of integrated tools that give you a better picture of your operations without needing to combine different technologies from different vendors.

The RingCentral contact center solution is an example of this. It includes a straightforward and easy-to-use WFO suite designed to improve customer journeys through better agent interactions, better workflows and processes, and more efficient transactions.

An engaged employee interacting with a customer through an inbound call

Reduce operational costs while improving operational efficiency.

You’d be able to manage workflow processes across different functions through one platform for your contact center’s performance. No more need to shift from one platform to another.

Improve agent engagement

Get the ability to leverage analytics-based modeling to customize your contact center processes and workflows. Improve workforce scheduling as well as coaching and feedback procedures while continuously personalizing training and evaluation based on customer interactions.

Benefits of WFO

Why is workforce optimization important in contact centers?

WFO suites provide your contact center with different tools that can help you optimize and maximize not only your workforce, but your entire operation in one unified platform.

Through an effective WFO solution, your contact center can:

Improve customer experience

From your past customer interactions, you'll be able to communicate better. You can achieve this not only through finding opportunities to improve employee performance but also to see how other aspects of your contact center, like proper employee scheduling, can increase customer satisfaction.

Focus on the contact center operations

With a single platform, contact center managers can now focus on improving contact center operations instead of figuring out how different tools and solutions from different vendors can work together.

How does WFO work?

WFO is really more of a platform for business strategy than actual software. So there may not be a singular answer to this question. Businesses can go about it in different ways depending on how they operate, their customer behavior, the location of their operations, and many other factors.

However, there are certain essential components that most, if not all, contact center solutions use to build their WFO platform.

These are the following:

An example of the RingCentral workforce management dashboard

Workforce Management (WFM)

What is workforce management?

Workforce management or WFM refers to an integrated set of tools and processes that contact centers use to build agent schedules, manage timelines, and empower agents by making life easier for them while maximizing their skill sets to increase productivity.

It's also about providing customers a consistent experience through your workforce. Each time a customer calls, you want to deliver a uniform type of service, including:

  • Answering inbound calls within a consistent time frame
  • Providing the same level of expertise on every call as much as possible

It can be achieved by optimizing your workforce through accurate forecasting and proper scheduling of agents, which you can do through an effective workforce management software.

What to look for in workforce management

In the past, attendance software was more straightforward because agents only handled one type of call. Agents could be assigned to billing, customer service, directory assistance, or technical support, but not many can handle more than one or two types of calls. As a result, human resources had an easier time. They just needed to consider when different  types of calls come in and schedule most of their qualified agents on those shifts.

Contact centers have evolved since then. Today's agents may handle multiple types of issues from simple account queries to complex billing issues., and  They are expected to address these issues on different channels including calls and chat, especially in omnichannel contact centers. On top of that, they are expected to build a relationship with customers as well. Contact center managers and workforce analysts need to have a deeper understanding of their workforce's numerous skills and their callers’ behavior to know how to schedule agent shifts properly.

Fortunately, there are WFM tools that can help your contact center figure it out. These include:

  1. Forecasting tools. The ability to manage your data is critical. Your workforce management software should include the ability to accurately forecast based on historical data.
  2. Skills-based scheduling feature. With agents having multiple skills, you must be able to assign them to a schedule that will maximize these skills while decreasing the chances that they’ll receive calls they're not equipped to handle. Having a tool that defines your agents' skills like who are the agents who can handle both chat and calls, is critical to proper scheduling.
  3. Real-time adherence reports. What is the use of proper scheduling when your agents are not following it? Get a workforce management solution that has a robust, real-time adherence tracking feature for time and attendance to hold your agents accountable.
  4. Trading shifts feature. There will be times that your planned schedule will conflict with the plans of your agents. Give your workforce the flexibility of being able to trade shifts with people who share the same skill set.
A call recording being reviewed by the quality assurance (QA) team

Quality management (QM)

What is quality management (QM)?

In any industry, you want to provide consistent quality in your products and services. It’s no different in contact centers. You want to provide your customers with great agent interaction every time they call.

Quality management software refers to the set of tools used in contact centers that help the quality assurance (QA) team review and monitor customer interactions by agents to ensure that each call is up to the standards expected from the company.

What to look for in a quality management platform

A good quality monitoring and management platform equips your QA team with tools that will help them review the quality of actual calls to provide the right feedback and coaching. It not only corrects agent mistakes but also dramatically improves agent performance.

Some of the features that you need in a good QM platform includes:

  1. Screen and call recording.

    These customer interaction recordings are essential in reviewing the quality of agent and customer interactions, but also in monitoring whether they are following the right procedures during the call. This includes compliance call recording, where they inform customers that calls will be recorded. Aside from that, you might also want to see what the agent is doing on the agent interface. Are they entering the right information? Are they leaving notes for other agents? Other necessary procedures that may not be obvious from just listening to the call may need to be observed, and you need the capacity to do just that.
  2. Customizable review forms. These are the evaluation forms used by your quality assurance team to review the work of your agents. QA scores and other data are used to create a report that determines how well the agent did on their calls. You want these forms to be customizable because the way you evaluate agents will inevitably evolve as better tools and technology come up.
  3. Easy-to-use interface. The QA team should be able to easily identify the agents they want to monitor or review, the call they want to listen to, and the corresponding review form that needs to be used.
An example of a speech and text analytics dashboard

Interaction Analytics

What is interaction analytics?

This feature lets you identify keywords during voice and non-voice interactions (SMS, live chat, email, and social media) with customers. It includes common complaints or even compliments from callers.

It helps you discern disposition, identify opportunities, mitigate risk, and decide on the right action based on that data.

What to look for in interaction analytics

Top organizations are continuously looking for the latest interaction analytics and reporting technology to help them stay ahead of the curve.

With day-to-day operations growing more complex than ever, your interaction analytics platform should be flexible enough to keep pace. Some of the essential functions you need to future-proof your organization are:

  1. Speech analytics. It refers to the process of analyzing recorded voice calls to gather information. It works by identifying keywords derived from the voice of the customer and the agent.
  2. Text analytics. This follows the same concept as speech analytics, except this one focuses on non-voice conversations with customers through alternative channels like live chat, SMS, email, and social media.
  3. Desktop analytics. It complements both speech and text analytics. What happens is that it correlates the findings from the interactions with customers through voice and non-voice channels with the activity on the desktop or the agent interface. It allows the contact center to see if their agents' actions match what they’re saying to customers.
An example of a performance management dashboard

Performance management dashboards

What is a performance management dashboard?

Performance management dashboards are indicator panels that communicate the organization's objectives and allow people to measure, monitor, and manage key aspects and processes needed to achieve those goals.

What to look for in a performance management dashboard

What you want in a performance management dashboard is the ability to combine call data and other contact statistics with other aspects of the contact center. It includes customer accounts, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or other back-end data that will give insight into how your operations is impacting your revenue.

Some of the functionality you want includes:

  1. Automated data collection. Data collection should be automated so the latest information is always available without manual extraction. It not only allows for faster reporting and analysis, but it also reduces mistakes and errors commonly associated with manual data extraction.
  2. Integrations. Not only do you want your data ready and available, but you also want the ability to integrate data from different sources. That is why closed-off environments are a thing of the past; you want it easily integrated through open APIs
  3. Enterprise-wide capability. You want to look at the bigger picture and see beyond your contact center. That's why you want business intelligence and reporting that extend their capabilities to other use cases within the organization and not just your call center.
An employee profile where his earned badges are displayed in a virtual trophy case


What is gamification?

This aspect of workforce optimization is, wait for it. . .a game-changer. Gamification is a software employed by many organizations to add gaming elements to certain aspects of their business. Most of the time, companies use gamification for customer engagement to encourage them to buy more by providing ways to earn points, ways to level up, or even actually creating a game that interacts with customers

In this case, you add gaming elements for workforce engagement. And it's not only to improve agent performance but also to create a more positive workplace culture.

What to look for in gamification software

Working in a call center is challenging. There's a lot of pressure to perform, and your interactions with customers are not always positive. Gamification aims to alleviate some of that stress by providing different ways to improve employee engagement.

Gamification can be approached in many ways, but some of the most common in the contact center setup include:

  1. Badges and ribbons. You can create a tier of achievements where agents can earn badges by reaching each tier. These badges or ribbons are virtual representations of their accomplishments and the organization's recognition of those same accomplishments.
  2. Points and rewards. You can create a reward system where agents can earn points for specific tasks and exchange them for actual prizes.
  3. Challenges. Agents can compete for top rank on specific performance metrics like who has the best call handle time, who can get the most feedback from customer surveys, or who has the best QA metrics overall.

How is WFO deployed?

Like most call center-related technologies, on-premise setups used to be the only option for deployment of WFO solutions.

In this scenario, organizations must come up with their hardware to support the IT infrastructure hosting the service. This setup has led to some problems for businesses. For example:

  • While providers are responsible for software support, your company still needs to manage and maintain the hardware and infrastructure
  • If you have multiple contact centers, you'll also need separate infrastructure for each location
  • The costs of maintaining, managing, troubleshooting, and everything else falls in your organization's bucket.

Cloud technology, however, has drastically improved how workforce optimization solutions are deployed. Providers like RingCentral now deploy the WFO suite within their cloud contact center solution.

It means that the provider now handles all maintenance and hardware costs (including actual infrastructure). That's on top of handling software upgrades and updates as well.

As a result, companies can focus on using the WFO suite instead of spending their time and money maintaining the infrastructure that supports it.

How to choose the right workforce optimization software

The average contact center manages about 20 different vendors for different aspects of their contact centers, from analytics, business intelligence, and workforce scheduling.

That's a lot of vendors to monitor. Next thing you know, your contact center management's time is spent managing these vendor relationships instead of looking for opportunities to optimize your operations.

What you want is a WFO solution that provides what different vendors are offering into one unifying platform. And that is what RingCentral does.

When you power your contact center with RingCentral, you'll get the full breadth of capabilities from telephony and call routing functions to collaboration and analytics from one single provider.

And you're not compromising on any capabilities for your contact center just because you're sticking to one vendor. RingCentral has market-leading tools included in its workforce optimization suite combined with an omnichannel contact center solution.

RingCentral Contact Center
Want to know more about the different tools inside the WFO suite of the RingCentral contact center solution? Click the demo button and explore how you can improve your workforce efficiency and productivity.