Workforce Optimization Solutions Adapt to Changing Market Needs

By Donna Fluss

The workforce optimization (WFO) market is at a turning point, and much of the groundwork to support the next-generation contact center is being readied. The need to support true omni-channel customer touch points and to gather and aggregate “big data” to understand, evaluate and improve the customer journey and reduce customer effort are mega-trends that are driving investments in service organizations. Technology trends such as mobility, globalization, virtualization, and the availability of cloud-based solutions are driving vendor investments to meet the requirements of the millennial workforce and consumers.

WFO Vendors Deliver Innovation: The WFO vendors are adept at delivering technology and innovation to address specific contact center and enterprise needs and challenges while at the same time revamping their solutions to make the most of the opportunities presented by market trends. This is one of the reasons why contact center WFO solutions never get old, even though the solutions are mature.

The WFO competitive landscape is transitioning, and the mid-tier contenders are seizing market opportunities. These vendors appreciate the need to change the way they do business; they do not want to compete on price but instead are finding ways to disrupt the traditional WFO market by taking new approaches. Some vendors have come up with methodologies to dramatically speed up implementations, while others are concentrating on being great partners willing to “go the extra mile” to keep their customers happy. The business approaches are varied: Some are aggressive, and others are more subtle. Satisfaction is high among customers of many of the up-and-coming WFO vendors, several of whom are highly responsive to customer requests.

The Cloud Is Playing a Growing Role in the World of WFO: Cloud-based solutions are coming on strong, and the WFO vendors are responding to the changing needs of their customers. The cloud is helping make WFO functionality available to contact centers of all sizes, even those with smaller budgets that might preclude a large up-front investment. WFO vendors with a true multi-tenant architecture and a cloud-based provisioning environment have an advantage when it comes to selling in the cloud, whether on a direct basis or through partners. Cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendors who sell ACDs and dialers are actively building partnerships with or acquiring WFO solution providers to round out their product sets and respond to the needs of their end-user clients.

Research and Development Are Increasing the Value of WFO: On the product side, user interfaces (UIs) are getting a much-needed and well-deserved overhaul. As WFO solutions deliver more integrated and aggregated data, analytics-driven processes, and more real-time information, end users need unified and streamlined interfaces with a common paradigm to render information in intuitive presentations. This includes mobile-enabled apps for administrators, supervisors, and agents. Agent engagement is another important concept that is also contributing to UI redesign, as more organizations realize the great benefits that result from giving agents access to real-time performance information and gamification features that motivate and empower them to self-manage performance.

WFO Solutions Deliver Customer Journey Analytics: The need to capture and evaluate the full omni-channel customer journey is a groundbreaking trend in its infancy, even though the concepts have been discussed for years. Big data and increased processing speed are making it possible for companies to capture and analyze massive amounts of customer information quickly enough to make the findings useful and actionable. DMG expects to see substantial investments in the area of customer journey analytics, as it gives companies deep insights into how well they are doing business with customers on a multi-channel basis.

Final Thoughts: The market is on the verge of ushering in a new era of servicing that will require a new generation of WFO solutions powered by predictive and prescriptive analytics. These solutions will also automate decision making, enable organizations to recognize and treat the “whole customer,” and respond in real time with personalized, concierge-like customer care. Although this “contact center of the future” is still years away, the groundwork is being laid, and WFO solutions will play a major role in helping companies achieve their goals.

Donna Fluss is the founder of DMG, a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that analyzes contact center and back-office technology and best practices. Contact her at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com with any questions you may have and to learn how to make today’s innovative and powerful technologies and best practices work for your organization.

[From Connection Magazine Jul/Aug 2015]

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