Businesses increasingly are shifting work to remote workforce and mobile workforce solutions. Not only can recruitment for employees span beyond the local area of a corporate office, it can also lower costs on salaries, office space, benefits and more.
While there are obvious advantages to having employees work outside of a corporate HQ office, there are challenges that need to be addressed. This includes over coming the time-consuming, manual work of mobile workforce management that is now required.
Before implementing any business management solutions try to address potential workforce challenges. It’s important to set a foundation of success with clear expectations that remote or mobile employees can be graded on performance with defined metrics. These metrics should be quantifiable and measurable, whether it’s meeting a sales quota, completing a certain number of calls each day, or hitting specific KPIs. Expectations should be communicated clearly during the onboarding process and by shadowing work with team members to set daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly goals.
Once expectations have been established for employees working outside of the office, the next step is implementing ways that streamline their management.
Remote Employee Communication
Successful remote employees are those who feel connected and part of a team with an aligned vision. This means having regular communication with each other. The good news is there are many tools and solutions that support communication in a variety of ways to reduce manual processes.
An easy to use project management tool is a need to organize work, manage projects and other tasks. Look for one that can be customized to fit the needs and goals of your team with features like scheduling, collaboration, data collection and analytical evaluation. It’s also wise to have communication tools that support fast, informal chats, as well as meetings. Ideally, pick one that offers video capabilities to help facilitate eye contact, which supports greater connectivity.
For example, at Plum Voice the majority of the workforce are remote. Using applications such as Slack, HubSpot, ClickUp and Salesforce to streamline processes and to assure teams have excellent communication is a necessity. However, when it comes to automated data collection Plum relies on their own automation software – making the lives of employees easier, and saving on possible large business management costs.
Workforce Management Processes
Of course, there’s more to a successful mobile or remote workforce than good communication. In the case of a company contact center, there are a number of key workforce-related processes that have to be continuously managed:
- How to process incoming calls
- Forecasting interaction volumes from incoming calls
- Scheduling and management of sales employees around these volumes
- Day-to-day management to adapt to changes in contact volumes or absenteeism
- Workforce needed to manage all of these processes and interactions
Workforce Forecasting Strategy
In the case of forecasting, manual management using Excel spreadsheets can be very time-consuming. Entering in contact history data, contact patterns, events or holidays that impact interaction volumes can be a tedious task. The time involved in forecasting can be dramatically reduced by using a workforce management solution that automates processes like these.
A remote workforce management solution uses historical and current call information from an interactive voice response system and other contact center solutions to predict future call volumes. This is based on calling trends, predictable call patterns and seasonal factors. Forecasts are updated automatically as new information is collected about each call without the need of having employees do this manually.
Automated Staffing and Scheduling Solutions
Like with forecasting, determining the optimal number of staff can be a time-consuming job when it’s executed manually. With a workforce management solution that’s integrated with an IVR system and a data collection software – mathematical models can be used to identify staffing requirements for incoming and outbound calls, as well as other types of interactions, such as emails or chat conversations.
Staff requirements also require non-productive time estimates for breaks, training, meetings and more. With a remote workforce management solution, you can break down schedule requirements for set time periods and set optimal schedules based on these requirements, as well as your contact center’s scheduling rules and constraints. This level of evaluation and management is next to impossible when executed manually.
Reducing Business Process Costs
To ensure your workforce is helping drive specific goals and objectives, it’s vital to compare actual day-to-day performance with your schedule plan. Only then can you make the necessary adjustments to achieve success. Once again, this isn’t something that is easily accomplished manually. Yet, with a WFM solution, it can be managed continuously to stay on course.
Managing a remote contact center team with a complex scheduling environment can be difficult to justify the costs to operate one. Yet, with an automated contact center solution that’s tied to an IVR system gives your business the advantage of a solution that can help keep costs in check and identify areas for improvement.
Increasing Up-Time and Revenue
Many hours of employee time can be lost in contact centers if there is a high amount of non-productive time. With a WFM solution, you can use historical and real-time information to gain better management and control of teams –optimizing the time of every employee.
With greater management and control of teams comes reduced queue times, improved service and a better overall customer experience. This reduces the number of abandons and increases the number of revenue calls that are completed.
Putting It All Together
Regardless of the size of a mobile or remote team, a primary objective is to obtain the most work at the highest level at the lowest cost. This can happen when there is a reduction of manual work and a shift to an automated workforce management approach. The benefits can be even more far-reaching by improving overall customer experience, customer support and brand quality.