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Adding Accuracy to the Contact Center: Very NICE

By Maurice Nagle May 10, 2019

The contact center requires precision and accuracy in its processes, but like a golfer taking an approach shot it’s not always so easy to stick it close. There are myriad contact center solutions, but not all are created equal. While the customer certainly comes first, team members must be front of mind when surveying Workforce Management (WFM) solutions.

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with NICE Sr. Product marketing Manager Paul Chance who took me through the paces of The Intelligent Workforce Management Solutions Suite, offering insight into where components like the Enhanced Strategic Planner provide unparalleled support for contact center management and operations as a whole.

There are three key areas where NICE WFM offers more. NICE added a multitude of new models and algorithms – 45 to be exact. Why? Because as Chance explained, “There are some data patterns where the weighted moving average model doesn’t do well with seasonality. These other algorithms offer better predictors of the interaction volume..” As a contact center manager, the options are nice, but even better is they don’t have to run each individually to ensure accuracy. Instead, call center forecasters and planners can leverage Artificial Intelligence to evaluate each algorithm and promise improved staffing on a day by day, skill by skill (or contact type)

Chance noted organizations with the WFM solution in place note an improvement of nine to 13 percent of 30 minute intervals hitting their accuracy targets. More accurate forecasting means smarter and more precise scheduling, more efficient spending, as well as enhanced service levels and satisfied, more loyal customers.

Once the NICE WFM AI creates the call center forecast of required agents, you need to match availability, preferences and business rules for agents and the organization, then map those together to create a schedule. Every tool in the market uses some derivative of erlang, but erlang doesn’t account for abandon rates and multi-skilled agents.” What does this mean? Well, you know what happens when we assume.

“Companies make assumptions as to how skills are taken care of,” continued Chance. Typically these assumptions result in overstaffing. The NICE WFM includes a machine learning component that will “mimic arrival pattern by routing rules, skills and skill levels – even in mutli-skill,” and through multiple iterations the system will gets smarter to identify the multi-skill efficiency factor. The end result: much more precise staffing.

The forecast is finished, the schedule created, it’s now the first day of the new schedule and “All hell breaks loose.” Agents are calling out left and right from a record-setting blizzard, maybe a hurricane hit home or the cold and flu season was worse than normal – insert catastrophe – what is call center management to do?

The Employee Engagement Manager will monitor what’s going on throughout the day and will automatically address scheduling needs. From reaching out to agents, to notifying management, alleviating management manually crunching the numbers, reviewing dashboards and/or contacting agents to fill open shifts. I like the way Chance put it, “How do you manage chaos? This will automatically work to restore order.”

Illustrating the support of customer contact centers small in stature to several thousand in a global enterprise, WFM is a function of contact center complexity, and quieting the storm of customer service. Anything can happen on any given day, and the right solution is the always-prepared Boy Scout in your back pocket pointing the way out of the weeds.

Addressing the plagues of inadequate forecasting/planning processes and less than desirable scheduling paradigms while empowering the workforce with greater control over work-life balance will combat agent attrition rates. In addition, as AI matures, it opens the door for team members to take on high level, more strategic initiatives – at least until the machines are ready to so themselves!

The big takeaway I had while speaking with Paul was the accuracy of the solution. I think it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of the cloud/digital age, but through what AI and automation are capable simplicity shines. The sweetest part of said simplicity is the peace of mind in knowing the numbers are correct, staffing levels are optimal and the bottom line is boosted as a result.

Available via cloud subscription or on-premises, the NICE WFM suite will integrate will all the major ACDs, email, chat, messaging etc. platforms and will continue to delve further into AI functionality, pushing the possibilities of capability.

The contact center requires precise and accurate forecasting. When Tiger Woods turns to his caddie he expects exact, accurate yardages, how else can hit the mark? A robust WFM solution will serve to guide contact center operations, empowering agents to make every interaction a hole in one.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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