Eighteen years ago I was a multi-lingual agent in a European 24/7 contact centre which handled dozens of languages. The sole channel was telephony, shifts were set in stone and the pace was frenetic when volumes spiked (which was often) but deathly quiet at other times (also fairly often). It was an extremely inefficient environment, one which could really have benefited from some analysis and better management of resources.
Years later I was a member of the Customer Service leadership team at Monster.com in a project to scope and build a European multilingual contact centre in the Czech Republic. Starting with an incubator hub of twelve or so agents, we successfully transferred traffic from fifteen European countries to the new site and eventually grew to over 150 FTE multilingual agents. It was while running a department within this centre that I first encountered workforce management / resource planning as a specialism. Back then the specialism was still viewed as something of a dark art, a standalone position that would simply help us to provide appropriate holiday cover and staff levels to strive for our SLAs. In reality, it delivered much more than that and was an eye opener for me as to how appropriate detailed analysis could positively impact every single aspect of a contact centre.
Nowadays contact centres have evolved and continue to evolve much further than I could imagine in my agent role at IBM or Service Director position at Monster. There is a plethora of channels for a customer to communicate with the centre, including but not limited to Telephony, Email, Webform, Live Chat, Text, Twitter etc… and the evolution of the internet itself and associated technology is leading to ever more complex operations supported by a wide range of dialler, workforce, analytics and IVR systems to name a few. It is safe to say that the world of the modern planning specialist is a complex and challenging one.
Taking a traditional sales cycle such as the one below, we can see that there are typically multiple interactions before a customer makes a purchase decision and a purchase. In an era of readily available information, today’s customer likes to do their research. The below is just one example of multiple customer interactions in a cycle which may involve at least one contact with a customer service team:
For me, what is relevant is that the “Asks Questions” part of the flow could now take place via any method of contact from the traditional telephone call, to live chat, webform, Twitter or many others, and modern planning teams need to add all of these into the equation. Below is a non-exhaustive example of the complex world of multiple contact channels that the modern multi-channel contact centre would typically handle:
Amid this evolving digital environment Resource Planning is finally starting to emerge as a bona fide career path and a fundamental contact centre function that can positively impact the bottom line.
Nowadays I run CCA Recruitment’s specialist Resource Planning Analytics practice, making use of my former contact centre experience and recruitment specialist career. I love my job; I get to meet a wide range of contact centre professionals and am party to detailed conversations about how the industry is evolving to adopt digital communication channels and ever-increasing amounts of data from the many tools and systems available on the market.
It is exciting to see my clients growing entire Resource Planning departments into sizeable lines of business in their own rights incorporating such specialisms as Forecasting, Scheduling, Real Time, Dialler Management, but also Service Delivery, Duty Management, MI.
From a standalone “data guy” practicing a dark art, Resource Planning is coming full circle and I anticipate 2017 being another year of sector growth, which leads me to the people. Where are the people? CCA Recruitment can certainly help here, whether a contingent search, retained or simply if you would like some consultancy about Resource Planning best practices, we are contact centre industry specialists.
Where next for Resource Planning and Analytics? How is Resource Planning evolving in your business?
Please feel free to leave comments below, or call me on 0161 457 0343 or message me via LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like us to solve any of your Resource Planning recruitment challenges,