What is the absolute minimum that a call center will save from using Wisdom WFO?
WFM business cases have been pretty bad and pretty unreliable since the beginning. So let’s change that. Wisdom WFO will cut your wait times. As a minimum that will reduce your telco costs. Its simple math. Holding callers in queue costs a few cents per minute and that adds up.
Whatever you save on Telco costs will depend on how long your wait times are now, and how many calls you take.
If you are an airline, ISP or Cellular provider, you’ll save hundreds of thousands or even millions in Telco costs.
If you are a small 100 seat call center that can’t keep pace with growth, you’ll likely save three or four thousand a month.
However, the size of telco cost savings are almost nothing compared to what you will save in operations, and gain in revenue.
Tip of the Iceberg
Telco savings are the tip of the iceberg for profitability changes. Wisdom WFO call centers operate with higher productivity from fewer agents with a level of preparedness that ensure growing business keep pace with the needs of the customers. That’s a license to print money if you operate in a growth sector and have your sights set on increasing market share, long term retention of customers, high referrals and leadership reputation.
If your wait times drop by 60% to 70% (and they will). The productivity of agents typically improves by 20%. The agents work more minutes per hour, solve more problems on first contact, sell more, retain more customers and rarely call in sick.
Agents cost 50 to 70 cents per minute. Telco costs hover around 2 – 4 cents per minute. So telco costs are just a tiny fraction of productivity improvements. Let’s look at the tip of the iceberg, as illustrated by the real telco costs savings of actual customers who switched to Wisdom WFO.
Often Wrong, Never in Doubt
Whether you perform forecasting and scheduling manually or with the top ranked WFM solutions, the outcomes are very much the same.
To illustrate this, we will give you two separate examples. One switched from manual WFM. The other switched from a market leading WFM solution. Both had exceptionally high forecasting and scheduling accuracy prior to the change. Both had serious wait time problems.
So how is it that WFM predictions are never in doubt, all the while producing wait time experiences that are so very wrong?
Accuracy Made Easy
In both of the following case studies cases, forecasting and scheduling accuracies had always been above 90%. One got these results manually. The other used market leading WFM.
WFM vendors like you to think that this level of accuracy requires sophisticated software algorithms. It does not. The only thing you have to do is count calls as they exit the queue. This can be done by counting calls when they end or by counting calls as they answer or abandon. Counting calls this way does four things:
1) It smooth’s your forecast so that it is easy to schedule to. All of the inconvenient demand fluctuations are ironed out because calls only get counted at the rate they can be processed. That makes scheduling accuracy easy because you don’t need to schedule to the intricacies of call arrivals, you only need to schedule to a smooth curve that is substantially determined by your historical call answering rate.
2) It makes every forecast look accurate. If you forecast 100 calls at 9:00 AM, then the schedule will only provide enough agents to answer 100 calls. If the wait times are long then, it is pre-ordained that you will count very close to 100 calls exiting the queue. The inevitable outcome is high forecasting accuracy.
3) It means that the most accurate schedule for your next forecast is exactly the same schedule that you used over the prior weeks. The old schedule modulated how many calls could be counted towards the forecast. So the schedule that will best fit the next forecast is the same old schedule. High scheduling accuracy is a natural by product of making no significant changes to the established schedule.
4) When the schedule never changes but your demand does change, you get long wait times. If you are in a competitive industry your customer base flees. The loss of paying customer helps to bring the call center back into balance. If you are a government organization your callers can’t flee because there are no alternative providers. If you are private sector firm that has customers tied into long term contracts, the customers cannot flee either. The result for either type of call centrer is extraordinary wait times.
The first example is a government call center. This call center was performing their forecasting and scheduling manually prior to switching to Wisdom WFO. However their forecasting and scheduling accuracy were just as high as any WFM solution can provided. Predictably, their problem was excessive wait times.
The chart below is a cumulative telco cost distribution of holding calls in queue.
The chart shows you how the total cost of callers waiting in queue is distributed according to wait time. The x-axis is the number of seconds callers waited. The vertical axis is the total cost. A higher number of callers waiting 30 seconds would make the curve steeper at the 30 second mark. The slope flattens where relatively few callers are experiencing those wait times. The curve builds upwards towards the total cost for the month.
The red line shows the call center’s teloc costs, one-month prior to Wisdom WFO. 75% of the costs stem from callers that waited longer than 250 seconds.
Immediately after Wisdom WFO the cost curve changed to that of the green line. Wait times and costs dropped to just 30% of what they had been. All of this was accomplished without additional agents.
The improvements were strictly a matter of re-timing the agents that the call center already had. Total calls were almost identical. Everyone just waited less.
Think about it this way. If it takes me 5 minutes to serve you, I can make you wait for an hour or I can help you right away. My effort in the matter is the same. You don’t need more of me to serve you faster. How long you wait is simply a matter of how I schedule myself to help you. If my schedule has a very poor concept of when you need to be served, you are going to wait a long time.
Wisdom WFO gave this call center the perfect concept of how to time all of its agents because it understands demand down to the second.
- Extraordinary improvements to wait times.
- Much happier callers and agents.
- Productivity improved so much that the call center was able to shed 20 agents.
- Despite the 20 FTE cuts and a 5% increase to their customer base, they continued to sustain their new found standard for short consistent wait times.
- They saved $3000 per month in the Telco cost of queuing calls and $83,000 per month in agent salaries.
Notice that salary savings were 27 times the telco cost savings.
Reliably Predicting Success
Now let’s look at another customer with a much larger wait time problem. They have been growing rapidly and their customers commit to long term contracts. Their market leading WFM solution has not helped them to keep pace with the growth. They started with the right number of agents to get the job done well. Unfortunately the forecasts and schedules could not keep pace with the change. Wait times increased to critical levels. Upset customers took a high toll on agents. Retaining agents became so difficult that training could not keep pace with attrition.
Wisdom WFO replaced the Market leading WFM solution and brought this customer back into balance. Three types of changes were needed. The available staff were scheduled to an SCO forecast. This brought some early relief. Wisdom WFO also provided the exact targets for hiring, training and for increased cross-training. The combinations of skills taught in each class and the number of students were determined directly from Wisdom WFO analytics. The day the last class graduated, service levels skyrocketed to exactly what was promised. Any time you satisfy the SCO forecast, the result is predictable – consistently short wait times.
Understanding Wait Times
The following intra-day Wait time distribution is for two Mondays. One Monday is prior to Wisdom WFO, the other is after. This chart illustrates how the wait times of callers shifted into consistently short wait. In general, WFM solutions will never show you a wait time distribution. They would rather show a service level. Service levels omit all information related to the callers who wait the longest. Wisdom WFO enables managers to study the full range at a glance.
The red line is the Monday wait time distribution achieved by a market leading WFM solution. The green line is the Monday wait time distribution delivered by Wisdom WFO. The red line shows very few callers answered in less than five minutes and wait times that stretch out to almost 2 hours. These types of outcomes are actually very typical of what unfolds when growing companies, with a relatively captive customer base, try to manage their call center with market leading WFM.
The green line shows how Wisdom WFO transformed the call center to produce a mountain of short wait times and a skinny tail of moderate wait times. Out of 1110 callers, only 22 waited longer than 5 minutes. The longest wait time was 9 minutes. The total call volume on both days was virtually the same. The difference is that the number and timing of agents was finally connected to demand (instead of forecast accuracy).
It took an additional 15 agents cross-trained in an exact combinations of skills to achieve these results.
This is not the first time this customer trained a group of 15 agents. Many classes of this size were graduated in the past. When a call center hires more agents and times them according to a bad forecast, the outcome is no discernible improvement.
Time is Money
We can also look at how the the monthly wait time cost distribution changed.
The red line is the month’s Telco cost curve prior to seeing their first SCO forecast. The green line is the Month that starts with a graduating class of 15 agents.
Unfortunately, attrition is still a factor. The agents in this call center have endured many months of customers distressed by long wait times. Simply put, they are primed to quit. Consequently,employee departures have continued to inflict some staffing shortages that cause the schedule to dip below the SCO requirements. These fluctuations are driving pockets of longer waits.
It is anticipated that attrition will level off within the next month – in response to shorter wait times and happier customers. As that happens, the monthly wait time cost distribution should shrink to the left and will likely drop below $1000. In a perfect world, the right most outlier on the wait time distribution will be a lone call that waited not much longer than 5 minutes.
While it may take another month or so to reach that objective, the first month’s wait time reductions are impressive. Thus far it looks like monthly telco dollar savings of at least $5500. Those savings are more than double the cost of licensing Wisdom WFO.
Of course the telco cost savings are nothing compared to the operational savings. Telco minutes cost 2 – 4 cents per minute. Agents cost 65 cents per minute. The average cost to hire and train an agent is $5000. The cost of losing a customer is priceless. The operation savings for Wisdom WFO subscribers are frequently as high as 1000x the license cost.
Subscribe to Success
Whether you currently have a WFM solution or not, Wisdom WFO will immediately put your call center on its real demand curve. That has nothing to do with an answered plus abandoned forecast. It has even less to do with a chaotic offered call forecast. Call counts have never known the first thing about demand. Your truthful forecast and perfect schedule are uniquely available from the SCO forecast. It provides your call center with the exactly what it has always needed – a truthful understanding of real demand – determined from a second-by second analysis of every detail of every call.