Contact Centers in 2030: A Look in the Future: Adaptive and AI-Enabled Workforce Management

Verint TeamDecember 9, 2019

DMG Consulting LLC (DMG) has made a series of predictions about various IT segments related to the contact center market. This blog post addresses the future of workforce management (WFM) solutions.

Prediction: AI-enabled adaptive real-time forecasting and scheduling will replace traditional workforce management solutions. Probability = 85%

Intent: New algorithms are being introduced into WFM solutions to improve the accuracy of forecasting and scheduling recommendations. The more advanced WFM solutions are using a combination of mathematical modeling and simulation to optimize scheduling recommendations. The goal is to reduce staff downtime and improve customer quality and satisfaction by ensuring the right agents are available to handle the projected volume of interactions, regardless of the channel in which they arrive.

Implications: For the past 45+ years, WFM solutions depended on erlang C and slightly modified versions of this algorithm to calculate delays and predict waiting times for callers. The issue is that erlang C comes with a few inherent challenges: it was developed to address the scheduling needs of directory service departments where there was no wait time (latency) between very short calls; it was designed to be used only with calls and no other channels; and it errs on the side of overestimating agent needs.

To address these issues, large contact centers often hired math PhDs and data scientists to custom-build formulas to improve the effectiveness of the WFM solution. These shops would use the WFM solution to collect the data from the automatic call distributor (ACD) or other system, run it through the forecasting module, and then download it into an application they custom-built to improve the effectiveness of the forecasts. After manipulating the data, the data scientists would upload it to their customized scheduler.

Given the complexity of today’s operating environments, contact centers need omnichannel staff forecasting and scheduling solutions that are able to optimize staffing requirements in voice and text-based channels, regardless of the mix, which is constantly changing. Innovative adaptive forecasting and scheduling solutions come with a series of highly sophisticated algorithms and simulators to assist companies in obtaining the “best fit” for their current set of voice and text-based inputs.

Once the schedules are identified, these solutions provide real-time updates on a continuous basis throughout each day (or night) to determine when contact centers are over or under-staffed. The new-gen WFM solutions use adaptive and flexible scheduling techniques that enable agents (and other types of employees) to select and modify their work hours and schedule their own breaks, leave times, time off and vacations.

Benefits:

  • Improves the customer experience by ensuring the department is staffed with the right number of resources with the needed skills
  • Frees agents to take on non-contact-center work when the volume of interactions is low
  • Improves employee satisfaction by empowering agents/employees to manage their own work schedule, an essential capability in the gig economy
  • Frees supervisors and/or WFM administrators from having to spend their time manually adjusting schedules to accommodate overtime, breaks, vacations, etc.
  • Reduces agent/employee-related expenses.

For additional predictions about the contact center market, please see the following:

 

By: Donna Fluss. Donna ([email protected]) is the president of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center, analytics and back-office market research and consulting.