WFM Contact Centre Data

The top 4 WFM data challenges and their solutions

The top 4 WFM data challenges and their solutions


Managing your workforce can be difficult, but solutions exist for even the toughest challenges. Many businesses struggle to manage and understand their data, it’s not that they don’t have data (perhaps they have too much) - rather it is that they don’t have the right data to hand.
You’re not alone in facing workforce management data headaches.

In this blog post, we’ll outline the top 4 data challenges businesses face when managing their WFM data along with solutions to resolve them. By the end you’ll be equipped with the knowledge of how to make your WFM data great, to enable your business to thrive.

Bad intel delays the journey: how poor data is a slow puncture for WFM.

WFM for contact centres is like sat nav for cars – you can work without it, but it’s easier to get around when it’s there. But supposing your sat nav has out of date mapping, or tells you the wrong speed limit – suddenly it won’t be working as well as you would hope any longer. Slightly more far-fetched, but supposing that new types of roads have been created that require a different vehicle, or you have a large fleet of EVs that can’t be charged at normal fuel stations at certain times of the day - lack of accurate mapping data would really start to impact you.

Well so it is with WFM systems, which require feeding with contact data to perform their key functions of forecasting, scheduling and intraday management. If the data provided isn’t up to scratch, then maybe the outcomes will fall short of what is desired. This might be painful, but the real problem becomes the extra cost in your business because supply and demand aren’t optimised, impacting your ability to deliver a more customer-centric service.

If you can solve your sat nav problems with the latest mapping updates, shouldn’t you be able to optimise your workforce management with the best, most accurate and flexible data too. In this post, we will look at 4 data challenges that manifest in contact centre operations and WFM, and for each we will consider how they can be overcome.

1. Lack of consolidated data for businesses operating with different platforms and different channels.


As customers demand more flexibility from their chosen brands, businesses know that managing customer contact on the customer’s preferred channel is required to create stickiness and advocacy. This brings some new operational challenges to bear, not least where agents are skilled across media types, as details about their contact-handling performance must often be collected from more than one system, combined properly together, and shared with other systems to drive planning, performance in the moment and reporting. It is not uncommon now for businesses to operate in an environment where agents handle both voice and web-chat interactions, with both being managed on completely different platforms, and so providing a consolidated feed of data to WFM, for example, is both an absolute requirement and a significant challenge.


Systems that connect to many different contact platforms (from a variety of manufacturers, across all available media types) and that standardise all the data that they receive into a single structure, cope very well with the challenge of joining data together that originates in different systems. Such systems create a common description of customer contact attributes regardless of channel, and provided the platforms can supply unique contact and agent IDs, stitching the disparate data together is no longer the challenge that it was. Where there is an absolute requirement, e.g. a WFM system that requires data from agents who handle multiple channels to be provided in a single stream, multi-channel standardisation systems easily handle this challenge, allowing WFM and other operational tools to continue to deliver the business value that underpinned their purchase.

2. Inability to customise data to fit your business’s specific operating requirements.


In the same way that everyone thinks their baby is slightly cuter than others, businesses all believe that they are slightly more complicated than their competitors, and in this case there is often a grain of truth to be found, but its more accurate to think of each business as different in varying degrees. So if most businesses are different, how do they successfully operate with largely the same key technologies. The answer is that the most successful technology vendors have built enough customisability into their products for their customers to tailor functionality around their own unique way of working. There are, however, two situations in the world of customer contact where this doesn’t always happen.

Firstly, workforce management data is usually supplied in a ‘one size fits all’ model, and if your business is special and needs to forecast by reason for contact combined with language for instance, but the data supplied from the contact platform can only structure reports by queue or line of business, this mis-match can seriously compromise operational performance.

The second scenario is very topical, that of businesses migrating from on-premise contact platforms to the cloud. Their on-prem set-up was likely highly customised, as the platform was installed to be used by them alone, with the provider’s expansive tailoring capability enabling them to create a good fit with their business processes. Cloud platforms, however, are the very opposite of bespoke tailoring – their providers have to share the infrastructure and functionality across many businesses, and therefore much of the flexibility of on-prem has been removed from the offering. When it comes to getting data out, a selection of vanilla reports are all that can be found, and so the business’s prior set-up will soon be fondly remembered as the halcyon days of unlimited data and supreme flexibility.


Systems that derive data by consuming real-time events from the data source, that contain a unique structure which enables them to represent all facets of contact handling, and that take the event data they receive and use it to populate the aforementioned structure, can provide a standardised representation of contact centre activity that is the same regardless of source platform.

As well as offering the most accurate description of contact and agent activity that can be created, because these systems do not rely on the reporting that comes out of contact platforms direct (which is often presented as summarised data and therefore loses some of the detail required for users to gain a proper understanding of what actually happened), they enable customised KPIs and reports to be tailored for a specific business’s requirements.

In the case of WFM data, they allow reports to be built using logic supplied by the customer in alignment with their business’s own operational nuances. And whereas CCaaS platforms do not provide flexible reporting outputs direct, systems that collect events generated by the cloud platform and create their own standardised view of activity, do allow the level of flexibility that used to be enjoyed by on-prem setups from their reporting outputs, thus removing some of the significant obstacles that cloud migration comes with.

3. Large delays or interruptions to operations when migrating to new CCaaS platforms.


There is a trend towards CCaaS which would appear to be a tsunami of transformation activity affecting business of all sizes and complexities. However, migrating to any ‘latest and greatest’ technological solution throws up significant hurdles before the promised benefits can be attained, in some cases this process can take years and often the starting brief is for the new tool to do the same as the old tool! So moving the dial on a business’s flexibility, customer centricity and irresistibility by migrating customer contact platforms to the cloud is quite the challenge.

One way in which this manifests is that the operational tools that feed off contact platform data (like WFM, reporting and BI) are all separately integrated to the current contact platform via a series of point to point integrations. As a new cloud-based platform is introduced, which must be implemented, tested and then migrated to in a phased approach, a complete duplication of the integration overhead must be performed. And for the period whilst both platforms are in place, as agents migrate from the old to the new worlds, they can be reported on by one platform one day and on the very next day it is a completely different platform controlling and reporting their work!

So the normal course of a cloud migration requires huge effort to be expended in duplication and testing integrations, followed by the migration itself and its associated testing, which is all very time consuming, prone to errors being introduced, and may bring about some potentially fractious conversations between the project office, their IT supplier/s and the business client. If everything doesn’t go smoothly first time, it is the end customer who may end up being a guinea pig in an elaborate experiment. 


Instead of having a point to point integration between each contact platform and every operational system that relies on its data, which then gets duplicated when new platforms are introduced, instead look for a system that sits between the contact world and the operational world, connects into every data source, puts the data into a standardised single version of the truth, and then shares that data consistently with other tools. Such systems can manage all data integrations in the current world, get pre-integrated to future platforms prior to their go live, and as contact is migrated from old to new platforms will allow a seamless transition of data with no perceivable effect on operational performance.

4. Complexity of providing tailored data feeds to each BPO partner.


Some businesses have found it advantageous to work closely with third party organisations to handle particular aspects of their operations on their behalf. These BPO providers will supply a range of services from the basic labour arbitrage of providing human resources at the best value for money, through to full scale outsourcing of operations which adds both technology and transformation to the services being bought in.

Large businesses may use a number of BPO partners simultaneously, often operating their own contact handling platform/s across all of their customers and channels and extending those platforms across to each partner’s operation. Each partner may be required to completely manage all aspects relating to their people, including running their own WFM system. For a customer with many BPO suppliers, creating the correct segmented WFM data feed for each supplier and delivering these feeds securely in real time to them in the format that their own brand of WFM system requires, is a huge technical integration challenge. But not providing this data impacts the ability for the BPO to optimise their resourcing, which ultimately leads to higher cost to serve and lower efficiency through the whole network.


Technologies that collect data from one or many contact handling platforms and bring it all into a common structure that represents all facets of contact handling activity, including what the customer experienced prior and during agent handling and also containing descriptions of all agent activity (such as Agent States, ACW, Aux Codes etc) are able to perform the same trick on the output side: the data can be deconstructed by whatever dimension is desired by the business. If each individual BPO has a different WFM system, custom feeds can be created for each provider that only include the contact history and agent performance statistics for those lines handled by each provider respectively. Using this type of technology increases the accuracy of data provided to each partner at the lowest possible cost, thereby empowering BPOs to optimise their own people management whilst simultaneously matching demand and supply to create better customer experiences. 


Getting good data into WFM isn’t good enough, the data needs to be great - where great includes many features such as accurate, flexible, combinable, deconstructable, ever present and never out of alignment. QPC’s Tracxion suite is a resource that many organisations, from large and complex through to small and straight-forward, rely on to solve their many and varied data challenges, and provide them with an agile, rapid to deploy and highly reliable service to power their WFM and many other operational systems.



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