Customer Dis-Service Level: A New Way to Manage Your Frontline

If you have a real-time frontline that can adapt with the changes in your business, you can achieve that 100 percent service level and full productivity.
Customer Service

Have you ever thought about how ridiculous it is that you and I, as paying customers, spend our time sitting on hold? We are given four-hour service windows when a technician can come to our house. We visit retail stores and have to look around for someone to help. Or, at that same store, we have to wait in line to give them our money!

Think about it. As customers, we want two simple things when we do business with a company: speed and accuracy. We want the right answer, fast, and we want the process to be easy. Why don't companies give this to us?

There are two reasons: silos and shifts.

Silos and Shift Thinking

Frontline workforces are managed in silos. The contact center is a silo, the branch is a silo - even the field service center and back office are silos. Worse, these silos have silos like inbound support and outbound collections, each of which must be staffed and forecasted. This leads to inefficiency and inconsistent agent performance.

When one silo becomes overrun and backed up, the customer experience suffers because, though there may be plenty of available employees, they haven't been trained with the skills they need to help another silo. And companies can't staff each of these silos to peak demand because it would be inefficient and way too expensive.

On top of this silo thinking, there's also "shift thinking." The most granular increment on which a frontline workforce is managed is a shift, or a day, but a lot can change in a shift or a day. Surprises like power outages and weather events, or even tardiness and absenteeism, happen all of the time in every channel. When things don't go as planned, and you manage at the shift level, you can't adjust fast enough to changing circumstances.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Think about what "service level" really means. Isn't it really dis-service level? By measuring the percentage of calls answered in a certain amount of time (let's say 80 percent), aren't we essentially acknowledging that we are going to do a disservice to 20 percent? The problem is that if we staff to a 100 percent service level, the peak of call volume, then we will be that much more overstaffed in the valleys. But what if there were no valleys, or better yet, what if the valleys were no longer unproductive?

Adapting in Real-Time

What if you could prepare agents for a new product launch during downtimes in call volume without adding work hours to the schedule? Or, what if a blockbuster product launch creates high call volume, but you have a real-time frontline to automatically balance and adjust, moving agents from low volume channels to high volume channels, all while maintaining service levels?

The truth is, in the contact center, there will always be times when forecasts are inaccurate. But if you have a real-time frontline that can adapt with the changes in your business, you can achieve that 100 percent service level and full productivity-all while delivering an outstanding customer experience.

A real-time workforce is more productive because it is more highly utilized. My guess is that it won't be long before companies announce no hold times, no service windows, and no waiting in their retail stores. That's good for us as consumers, but bad for their competitors!