Gauteng Business News

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CONTACT CENTRES: Achieving Work-Life Balance in a Contact Centre


Recent Gauteng Business News

Encouraging the achievement of work-life balance among staff is today an important component of every responsible manager's job. It's a proven concept that allows each individual to improve the quality and enjoyment of their personal and work outputs. In the highly stressful contact centre environment, the right workforce management tools can assist.

Says Paul Fick, MD of Spescom DataFusion, a provider of integrated communication solutions and platforms for call centres and enterprises: "The people that staff a contact centre are possibly the single most important ingredient in that contact centre's success. Ensuring staff are properly motivated, skilled and 'satisfied' with their job will ensure a better performance, greater productivity and reduce staff churn."

Achieving this may mean offering flexible working hours, ensuring ongoing skills enhancement or providing individuals with more or less of a work challenge. To do so, an accurate measure of an agent's skills, performance and their work preferences is essential. Workforce solutions from technology providers such as Avaya offer the right functionality and sophistication to make this possible.

"In addition to the complex task of forecasting and scheduling, integrated adherence, performance management and eLearning functionality will enable contact centres to capitalise on the unique skills and proficiencies of every agent," notes Fick. "In addition, appropriate staffing to meet the workload reduces staff costs, drives business growth and enhances employee satisfaction. More importantly in terms of empowering staff to achieve work-life balance, however, is the capability these solutions provide to staff to manage their work schedules."

Self-service advantages
An employee time-off function within the workforce management solutions, for example, turns a complex, time consuming and burdensome process of managing time-off requests into simple online administration. It enables agents to view vacation availability, submit, manage and track requests for vacation or time off and to receive time conflict and request status information.

Agent self-service functionality additionally enables staff to easily manage and contribute to their own schedules without impacting service levels. "By bringing workforce management to the agent desktop, contact centre managers can build agent morale and retention. It gives the agent more flexibility and control over their schedules while enabling managers to focus on more critical areas such as coaching and performance-related activities," Fick notes.

This functionality will allow agents to securely use a Web browser to, for example, request preferences for start times by day, and preferences for days off during the week. They can also view published schedule and time off information, with the ability to check the status of shift swaps, shift bids, time off and vacation requests. Or they can create, withdraw and be wait-listed on time-off requests, even down to portions of a day.

Skills enable high performance
Having the right skills for the job will enable agents to complete their tasks easily and well. This improves job satisfaction and morale, not to mention giving the agent more time to devote to customer care. Assessing the skill and performance of agents, as well as providing suitable remedial or additional skills acquisition opportunities is thus important to achieving work-life balance. Workforce management solutions today cater for this requirement.

Says Fick: "With a suitable workforce management solution in place contact centres can track, analyse and manage employee performance using predefined key performance indicators (KPIs) displayed in role-appropriate scorecards.
They can also automatically assign and deliver best-practice learning to employees' desktops to address skill gaps, communicate policy updates and changes, and supplement classroom training without impact to service levels.

"eLearning can be assigned automatically and scheduled to minimise the impact on service levels. Courses can be delivered right to the employees'
desktop and interactions tracked to completion. Employees can even assign lessons to themselves to brush up on specific skills, and supervisors can browse through course completion reports and flag subsequent interactions to gauge the effectiveness of training."

Concludes Fick: "The ubiquity of technology and increasing globalisation of business means that work time is now any time. Personal time thus needs to be defined by the individual. This responsibility needs to be taken seriously and employers need to ensure staff recognise the requirement for balance. With the right tools at hand, work-life balance can be achieved and both parties benefit."

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