Virag Shah, senior manager for inbound product management in industry and Customer Workflows, co-authored this blog.
Running a customer contact center to meet the sky-high expectations of today’s customers is hard work. Success depends on having agents who can empathize with and advocate for your customers in order to give them satisfactory answers and resolutions. This is no small task, and the dynamic nature and complexity of all the factors involved make it even more difficult.
For starters, customer service centers must track and manage customer interactions across multiple channels: telephone, email, chat, and social media. Although each channel requires live agents to monitor and respond to customer requests, not every agent can handle every channel. Specific channels often require specific skills and expertise.
For live chat, social media, and email, for instance, agents need to be proficient in grammar, spelling, and typing to quickly and effectively answer customers’ questions. To take calls, especially when representing a global business, agents need to be able to converse in the language the customer is most comfortable using.
Add to this the fact that customers expect a representative to be available 24/7, and scheduling quickly becomes a critical gating factor for success. You have to consider the hours that different customer service agents are available, including meals and break times, across multiple time zones, not to mention scheduled and unexpected time off.
Plus, there are special events to think about, such as holidays and new product or service launches—all of which may have variable staffing requirements. Ensuring the right agents are covering the right channels to meet your organization’s service levels (e.g., 80% of calls answered in 30 seconds, emails responded to within eight hours) can be a monumental task.
Taming the complexity
Workforce Optimization for ServiceNow® Customer Service Management can help managers, team leads, supervisors, and agents improve the quality and efficiency of their service teams. It creates transparency, facilitating better planning, coordination, and communication that lead to high-performing, engaged, and satisfied service teams.
The solution provides customer service supervisors and managers with real-time visibility across channels and agent activity, enabling them to monitor productivity and workloads from their own unique workspace. They can also identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure the performance of their team across review periods (see Figure 1).
For example, supervisors can use their dashboard to track average handling times and drill down to get details that can help identify and address potential bottlenecks or replicate efficient processes.
Figure 1: Managers can monitor and measure the performance of their team members.
Scheduling within Workforce Optimization makes it easy for supervisors and managers to see agent availability, manage shift assignments, and balance agent workloads. On the flip side, agents can see their personal work schedule and request to swap shifts as needed to avoid gaps in coverage.
Workforce Optimization gives managers 360-degree visibility into their agents’ workloads, as well as their historical performance, to inform evaluation and growth conversations. This creates opportunities for supervisors and managers to coach their agents, help them perform assessments, and offer feedback to improve performance.
Machine learning further helps managers maintain necessary skills across their teams, recommending the skills and expertise that should be allocated to different team members.
Agents can see how they’re doing from their desktop by tracking their performance against key metrics. In addition, they can access training and knowledge resources to help them acquire new skills and experience to improve their service levels and grow in their career.
3 key enhancements in the Rome release
The Now Platform® Rome release further enhances the capabilities of Workforce Optimization in three ways:
1. Schedule Adherence enables managers to monitor an agent’s compliance with scheduled work times and set adherence targets to drive desired behaviors (see Figure 2). This ability brings together forecasting, scheduling, and actual agent activity to help supervisors and managers better keep tabs on contact center activities.
Figure 2: Managers can view their team’s schedules, shifts, and shift swaps at a glance.
2. Demand Forecasting allows managers to visualize historical work/volume data along with forecasts (see Figure 3). This information simplifies staff planning in order to accommodate changes in demand (e.g., product launches, holidays) and ensure high customer satisfaction levels. The forecasting algorithm can be selected and forecast parameters adjusted to suit circumstances, such as volume spikes or vacation times.
Figure 3: Plan future demand and make manual adjustments to your forecast.
3. Skills Development and Coaching helps managers evaluate an agent’s work and discuss opportunities for improvement and growth by identifying available trainings to increase the agent’s expertise. Any feedback customers provided during or after their interactions is available to help inform the manager’s coaching discussions with their agents.
Team members’ skill profiles help managers make the best use of their resources, allowing them to identify gaps and better allocate resources at the individual, team, and cross-team levels to prepare for the ever-changing needs of the business (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Managers can quickly see and adjust the distribution of skills across their teams.
These enhancements continue to build out Workforce Optimization, enabling you to make your agents more knowledgeable and efficient—and, ultimately, leading to better service and happier agents and customers. Learn more about how ServiceNow can help you streamline customer service.
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