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  • Clive Woodrow

Workforce Management Basics - That Our Mothers Can Understand.

Updated: Mar 1

Daughter: Hi, Mom. Hey, I just called to let you know that I got a new job!! Yeah, I'm pretty excited. I'm going to be a Workforce Management Planner for that new company in town. 


Mom: What does a Workforce Planner do honey?


Daughter: Well, every day, thousands of customers who buy the company's products and services have to contact us. They usually call, email or they have an online chat with the contact center agents.

The contact center I will be working for is open from 7 AM to 7 PM every day.


Mom: Do you have to work 12 hour days?


Daughter: No, I'll have a pretty regular work shift. But listen to this, I have to determine when these customers are going to call, and I have to figure out what time they will contact us and in which way, telephone, chat or email. I use some mathematical calculations and contact history to predict how many customers are going to call in every half-hour interval between 7 AM and 7 PM.


After I figured that out, I'll ask the management team how quickly do they want to answer these customers. Companies usually want their agent to answer a customers call within 20 seconds. These guys might be different.  


Then I meet with the Contact Center management team. I give them the historical data on how long it takes the customer service agent to handle customer inquiries. I separate the telephone call times from the email times and the chat times because they tend to be different and have different needs. 


Then I ask them to approve my time estimates. Sometimes they will debate the handle times because of different factors like our new agents take longer on calls. Things like that.


By speaking to them, I get a better sense of their plans, and that helps me make accurate forecasts.   


Once all that is agreed to, I have most of what I need;

  1. I have an estimate of the number of telephone calls, emails and chats that I will receive between 7 AM and 7 PM.

  2. I also know how long each of those interactions will take and

  3. I also know how quickly the company wants once the agents to answer the customer's inquiry.

Then I figure out the number of agents that we need in each of the 24 30-minute time slots we have each day to answer the calls, emails or chats. I do that for each day of the week and each contact channel. That's 21 different forecasts in all!


Mom: That sounds very complicated.


Daughter: It can be. The tricky part is making sure that all of our agents have their required breaks and lunches. I also have to remember that some of the agents will;

  • Go to various meetings,

  • Or be in training,

  • Need to call in sick,

  • be late coming back from lunch,

  • and so forth. 

So knowing all of this, I put extra people into the schedule to cover any lost time.


However, I have to be careful not to put too many people into the schedule. That will add a lot of costs to the company's operation. They don't want that. So I need to make sure the agents stay occupied during their shift.


To make it easier for everyone, I'll produce staffing schedules weeks in advance so that everyone knows what time they start work what time their brakes and lunches start and what time their shift ends. This is very important because I have to make sure that the agents who have specific scheduling needs like daycare or other family matters get the shift times that work for them.

So that's it, Mom. That's my job.


Mom: It sounds terrific honey. You sound like you have a good plan.


Daughter: Oh wait I forgot one crucial point, I take all of my data and all of my assumptions and projections along with my reasons why the numbers are the numbers, and I'll share that with my boss and the contact center management team.


Their review helps to ensure that I haven't missed anything. When I get their approval, I will produce a plan for everyone to see. It's pretty cool.


Mom, if you are talking to Aunt Maria, you can tell her about my new job? 


Mom: I'm sure she will be as excited as I am.


Daughter: OK, Talk to you later. Tell Dad I said hello.

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