Recommendations: Sorts listings by the number of recommendations our advisors have made over the past 30 days. Our advisors assess buyers’ needs for free and only recommend products that meet buyers’ needs. Vendors pay Software Advice for these referrals. Reviews: Sorts listings by the number of user reviews we have published, greatest to least. Sponsored: Sorts listings by software vendors running active bidding campaigns, from the highest to lowest bid. Vendors who have paid for placement have a ‘Visit Website’ button, whereas unpaid vendors have a ‘Learn More’ button. Avg Rating: Sorts listings by overall star rating based on user reviews, highest to lowest. A to Z: Sorts listings by product name from A to Z.
Avaya OneCloud UCaaS (formerly (formerly Avaya Aura Contact Center)) is a cloud-based and on-premise call center solution that caters to all businesses across various industries. The solution allows users to offer personalized int...Read more
3CLogic’s Cloud Contact Center Solutions offers applications to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel communications. The solution is suitable for call centers of all sizes.
3CLogic is able to manage internal and...Read more
Virtual Contact Center by 8x8 is a cloud-based call center solution for small to midsized businesses. In addition to call center functionality, this solution also supports other interaction mediums such as voicemail, email, web ca...Read more
ChaseData CCaaS offers cloud-based, standalone call center functionality with customer service and support built into the solution. It’s designed for outbound, inbound and blended call center teams.
Dialing capabilities inclu...Read more
Nextiva offers a robust call center solution for business large and small. Nextiva Call Center allows companies to deploy a contact center in the cloud for inbound and outbound calling campaigns. Smaller organizations can now acce...Read more
Talkdesk is a cloud-based call center solution that helps businesses improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing customer support costs. It uses interactive voice response (IVR), automatic call distribution (ACD) a...Read more
VanillaSoft is a sales and marketing automation tool that also includes features for telemarketing. This makes it an ideal fit for those who specialize in inside sales. It can be accessed from anywhere because it's web-based. ...Read more
The PIMS Dialer is flexible, scalable, and secure. It’s a cloud-based application, and the servers are housed in a state-of-the-art facility that’s operated around the clock, delivering extremely reliable uptime. Companies can cus...Read more
Mitel MiContact Center is a hybrid contact center solution that caters to businesses across various industries such as hospitality, healthcare, government, education and service providers. The solution can be accessed via web brow...Read more
Connect First is a cloud-based contact center solution, which provides users various applications such as multi-channel contact management, automated call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony in...Read more
Huawei eSpace is a unified communications (UC) solution that can support up to 50,000 users at multiple sites, and offers UC features and secure virtual private network (VPN) connections on mobile devices....Read more
Genesys Cloud CX creates fluid conversations across digital and voice channels in an easy, all-in-one interface. Designed to provide exceptional experiences for your customers and employees, it deploys quickly, is intuitive to use...Read more
NewVoiceMedia’s tight integration with Salesforce is reflected in its AppExchange 5-star rating and the large number of positive reviews. The solution is designed to work in tandem with Salesforce capabilities and data to deliver ...Read more
Ringio is a cloud-based call center management solution that features a CRM dialer, call routing, analytics and more. It’s used by sales teams in many industries such as healthcare, media, non-profit and banking.
The system c...Read more
TrackMyLeads is a cloud-based call tracking and intake management solution. Key features include lead management, internal messaging, call tracking and recording, advertising campaign statistics, and reporting and analytics.
Clarity Connect is a call center management solution suitable for concurrent users and for organizations across a variety of industries.
Clarity Connect is a contact center solution that runs on the Skype for business It help...Read more
OfficeConnect by UniVoip is a cloud-based phone system that offers features including auto-attendant, call paging, conferencing, email integration, one-touch speed dial and call recording. The platform is targeted towards mid to l...Read more
Humach is a cloud-based call center solution that provides plug and play customer service functionalities to businesses across various industry verticals such as health care, retail, financial services, consumer products and more....Read more
Ytel Contact Center is a cloud-based integrated marketing suite that caters to SMB call centers and businesses with dedicated phone support teams, helping them manage multi-channel communications.
The solution offers features...Read more
So, you already have skills-based routing, advanced IVR menus and agent desktops in place at your contact center—what next?
While contact center systems enable inbound, outbound and multichannel interactions, efficiently scheduling agents to handle each channel can be a daunting challenge. Moreover, most contact center supervisors will want additional control over agent performance and the quality of customer interactions.
This is where contact center workforce optimization (WFO) and workforce management (WFM) software come in. Workforce optimization software is generally a separate solution that integrates with modules in your existing call center management software, particularly your automatic call distribution (ACD) system.
WFM is generally part of a WFO solution and enables automated scheduling and forecasting of staffing needs. WFO suites are broader than WFM applications, and also cover quality and performance management.
We’ll take a look at the major components of a WFO solution and explain which types of contact centers can benefit the most from implementing a system. Here’s what we’ll discuss:
Workforce optimization software isn’t a single application, but an integrated suite of applications. Some vendors only sell WFO as a suite, whereas others sell individual modules on a standalone basis.
Standard Modules in Workforce Optimization Suites
At first glance, you might think that these modules don’t have all that much to do with each other, and you’d be right.
Originally, workforce management systems for employee scheduling were standalone solutions, as were the quality management systems that evolved on top of basic call recording software.
Over the past decade or so, quality management has become an increasingly complex task with the advent of multi-channel contact centers and sophisticated analytics, and the need for greater agent engagement has become more apparent. Performance management software solutions have thus emerged to complement existing quality management systems.
Each of the modules in the above chart includes a complex set of features, so we’ll tackle them one at a time. Based on how your contact center is set up and your pain points with managing your operations, you may need one, two or all three of these modules.
It’s important to note that not all vendors use the same terms for these modules, or group features in the same way.
For instance, some vendors lump KPI dashboards and scorecards in with performance management, while others group these features in with quality management. Some vendors treat interaction analytics as part of a quality management module, whereas others sell separate interaction analytics model.
The major decision you need to make is whether you need an integrated suite or just a few select standalone solutions. If you’re going the standalone route, pay attention to how different vendors group features in modules, so that you can buy as few modules as possible.
If possible, try to find a solution from the same vendor that provides your contact center infrastructure to enable integrated capabilities. Some vendors even offer contact center management suites that include integrated WFM or full-blown WFO.
Workforce Management Software Features
Workforce management modules are primarily designed to do two things:
Enable contact center supervisors to forecast staffing needs
Automate the complex task of scheduling agents
Forecasting is a vital capability: Many contact centers deal with fluctuating call volume based on seasonal demand, product launches and promotional offers, as well as technical issues with products that necessitate intensive customer support etc.
WFM modules can forecast the volume of calls or other interaction types based on historical data collected from sources such as your ACD system and network switches. They can also forecast how many agents you’ll need to have in place to handle this volume. Advanced solutions can even factor agents’ skills and service goals (average wrap time, time to answer etc.) into forecasts.
Most contact center supervisors won’t need an explanation of the benefits of automated scheduling. Simply scheduling agents according to their preferences is already complex enough when using an Excel sheet, but when you factor in the coverage needs of a multichannel contact center, scheduling can quickly become a nightmarishly complex process.
Contact center WFM software completely eliminates the complexity of scheduling by automating it based on rules that take the following factors into account:
One way in which WFM solutions boost agent engagement is by allowing agents to enter requests for time off and shift changes via self-service web portals and mobile apps. The system then automatically factors in requests when developing schedules.
Advanced solutions also include the following features:
Assist in understanding the impact of potential operational changes, such as sudden spikes in call volume, changes to the ACD queue and/or IVR system, scheduled server maintenance etc.
Self-service portals and mobile apps
Allow agents both to view schedules in real time and to request time off and make other schedule changes remotely.
Enables automated scheduling of back-office staff as well as agents. Sometimes sold as a separate add-on module.
Allows for task-level scheduling throughout the day to keep agents busy during periods of low call volume. Not all vendors offer this capability.
Quality Management Software Features
The most basic form of quality management used in contact centers will be immediately familiar to most supervisors and managers: call recording.
Contact centers have been recording calls for decades, but there’s a catch: What happens to all these calls after you’ve recorded them? Contact centers still need to decide on:
The number of calls supervisors should listen to
Some type of mechanism for collecting scores, conveying them to agents and storing them for reporting
Supplementary mechanisms for collecting customer opinions in addition to supervisor opinions
Ways to evaluate interactions that don’t happen over the phone
The approach taken by many call centers in the past was to select a random sample of calls for analysis. For contact centers that deal with a high volume of interactions, however, the danger arises that a random sample won’t be representative, and in particular that it won’t capture the problem interactions that cost the business the most money.
Thankfully, there are now solutions to all of these issues:
Speech and text analytics. New analytics technologies have made it possible to evaluate 100 percent of a contact center’s recordings instead of taking a random sample. For instance, speech analytics can be used to sift through and categorize recorded calls to spot signs of trouble by using keywords and determining the emotional state of a caller through tone of voice. Similarly, text analytics can be used on emails, SMS text messages, web chat interactions etc.
Solutions with speech and text analytics automatically flag problem interactions for supervisor evaluation via a rules engine that defines what counts as “problematic,” and/or allow supervisors to search recorded calls and interactions for keywords and other signs of trouble.
Desktop analytics. This form of analytics addresses the problem of evaluating interactions that take place within software applications rather than over the phone. Desktop analytics captures how agents use software (e.g., clicks, time spent in applications).
Solutions with advanced desktop analytics allow supervisors to define processes for how agents should use applications, then measure whether agents are adhering. Such solutions allow for extensive quality control over interactions that don’t involve a phone call.
Evaluation form templates and scorecards. Finally, quality management systems support templated forms for scoring calls, and feed call scores into key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards and scorecards for agents and supervisors.
Performance management modules go beyond basic quality management with the following features:
KPI monitoring (sometimes found in quality management modules)
Features for managing agent training via e-learning modules
Features for managing agent coaching
KPI monitoring is vital for both agents and supervisors. Generally, historical data is collected from sources such as the ACD system and the WFM system. It is then analyzed by the solution and fed into dashboards and reports that visualize KPIs.
KPI dashboards and scorecards for agents give them overviews of their individual performance, while dashboards for supervisors allow insight into broader performance trends. Supervisors can view KPIs and create reports at the following levels:
Real-time compliance monitoring. In addition to visualizing KPIs, performance management solutions can automatically notify supervisors when KPIs drop below predefined thresholds. Modules that integrate with WFM systems can also compare agents’ schedules to their activities in real time to ensure adequate coverage and adherence to best practices.
Agent training and coaching. Performance management extends into e-learning territory generally covered by learning management systems (LMSs). When an agent’s KPIs drop, the system can automatically schedule an e-learning module for an agent to address the underlying issue at the most convenient time for the contact center (another use case for WFM integration).
Performance management solutions can also automatically recommend and schedule one-on-one coaching sessions between agents and supervisors, and track the impact of coaching through continuous KPI monitoring.
Gamification. Finally, performance management generally includes gamification capabilities for enhancing agent engagement. Common functionality includes tracking KPIs in terms of points, awarding badges to high performers and leaderboard displays for motivating competitive agents. We’ve touched on how gamification can improve customer service in a guest post we wrote for Freshdesk.
Contact center WFO offers benefits in a number of mission-critical areas. For an illustration, see the chart below:
Benefits of Performance, Quality and Workforce Management
Business Model and Industry-Specific Considerations
Contact centers serve a number of functions across a variety of industries, so it’s not surprising that some niche WFM capabilities are specific to certain verticals:
In financial services, retail and other industries with complex networks of branch sites, visibility is needed into KPIs for individual employees at each branch. Generally, desktop analytics helps to measure the performance of branch office employees who aren’t simply dedicated to answering calls. Some vendors offer dedicated solutions for branch offices.
Organizations that deal with payment card data must comply with PCI (Payment Card Industry) regulations concerning the storage of this data in call recordings. Advanced systems can detect payment card data in recordings (via time stamps and other techniques) and censor it.
Organizations with large back-office teams will need solutions that extend WFM to these employees.
Multichannel contact centers will need text analytics in addition to speech analytics for quality management.
Organizations with numerous teams and/or departments will need a WFM solution that fully takes account of agent skills, not just coverage requirements for different channels in the ACD queue (voice, email, web chat etc.).
Organizations that rely heavily on outsourcing or remote workers, also known as virtual contact centers, will need a solution with web portals and mobile apps that allow agents working from home to use the WFM system, view KPIs etc.