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Workforce Optimization 101: What It Is, Why Is It Beneficial, and Strategies to Do It Right

Workforce optimization can help businesses stay relevant in today’s intensely competitive landscape. Customers are quick to shift loyalties—even at a higher price—in exchange for a better experience.

Research from PwC throws up some fascinating insights on consumer experience:

  • 63% of U.S. consumers said that they would be willing to share more information with a company that offers a good customer experience.
  • 32% of U.S. consumers said that they would quit a brand they love after just one poor experience.
  • 54% of U.S consumers said that customer experience at most companies needs improvement.

Workforce optimization streamlines processes and makes companies more agile and efficient. Thus, it leads to higher customer satisfaction rates.

Let’s take a few moments to understand it better.

What is workforce optimization?

Workforce optimization (WFO) is a set of strategies and practices that helps organizations ensure that they are maximizing the skills of their workforce to create a better customer experience.

WFO comprises the following components:

  • Compliance recording and quality management (QM)
  • Workforce management (WFM)
  • Customer interaction analytics and Voice of the Customer solutions
  • Reporting and business intelligence solutions

Technology plays an important role in WFO because massive amounts of data are collected and analyzed. Some types of data collected are:

  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Employee performance data
  • Employee work schedules
  • Operational costs
  • Net promoter score (NPS)

WFO is achieved by combining analytics, call recording, quality management, text analytics, coaching, speech analytics, surveying, and feedback.

Examples:

Unific, an e-commerce marketing platform, used HubSpot Service Hub (customer service software) to improve NPS by 50% and reduce ticket volume by 66%.

Ingenico, a provider of payment and transaction systems, used WFO software for a variety of benefits:

  • Achieved and maintained service levels of greater than 80% each month
  • Reduced overtime costs by 25%
  • Reduced time spent on resourcing by 87%

Why is workforce optimization a worthy investment?

The advantages of implementing workforce optimization are:

  • It increases the return on investment and helps reduce the cost of ownership.
  • It leads to increased efficiency and productivity.
  • It enables better integration with existing solutions and streamlines performance management. Thus, it improves customer experience and customer retention.
  • It shortens the learning curve and reduces the cost of training and hardware and software applications.
  • It improves labor yields and increases workforce capacity as well as employee satisfaction.
  • It can provide valuable insights into different aspects of operational efficiency.
  • It creates new opportunities for career development.

WFO is commonly adopted by retail, manufacturing, and financial services. However, any industry stands to benefit by optimizing its workforce to improve productivity.

Workforce optimization strategies

There are several approaches to optimizing your workforce to achieve maximum productivity:

1. Adopt a customer-first perspective

WFO does not just focus on internal processes. It takes multiple factors into account, especially customer satisfaction scores. Thus, by taking a customer-first perspective, companies can identify their inefficiencies, pain points, and inconveniences.

By analyzing buying behavior, companies can identify areas for improvement. Consumers will provide constructive feedback when they feel their opinion is valued.

Hence, the first step is to conduct a customer experience audit to identify how companies can employ WFO.

A customer service software like HubSpot Service Hub can help companies deliver end-to-end customer service, deepen customer relationships, and offer flexible customer support.

2. Dive into data

Companies need broad visibility into all customer interactions to identify new trends and opportunities for improvement. The different metrics that can provide better insights are:

  • Employee engagement
  • Training efficiency
  • Churn rate
  • Absenteeism

Analytical tools can help analyze customer data as well as visualize trends and opportunities. For instance, speech and text analytics takes data on customer calls, emails, and chats and uncovers insights into customers and the business.

Also, enterprise recording captures conversations along with contextual data to offer an omnichannel journey of the customer’s journey.

3. Empower your employees

WFO isn’t just about making employees efficient. It also involves providing real-time data from customer conversations to help train algorithms and improve performance management and training initiatives.

For instance, real-time data gives visibility into every employee-customer interaction and analysis helps reduce time to resolution and improves collaboration.

By empowering employees with the latest WFO software, they are freed from mundane and repetitive tasks and can take on strategic and challenging work.

Training automation tools help employees become drivers of their own learning journey. They can learn at their own pace, receive instant feedback, and engage better with their lessons.

Gallup noted that teams that emphasized employee engagement delivered 20% more sales and 10% more customer engagement on average.

HubSpot’s suite of products like Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Operations Hub is focused on equipping employees with the tools to boost productivity, personalize their offerings, and boost customer satisfaction.

4. Automate repetitive tasks

Automating repetitive tasks like recordkeeping, attendance and time tracking, task assignment, and scheduling can help companies reduce mistakes, enhance data sharing, streamline decision-making, and allow managers to devote time to value-added tasks.

With a shift planning solution, companies can reduce paperwork, get greater visibility into employee schedules, and create more realistic workloads for teams. Such a solution also enables managers and employees to handle attendance, time-off requests, and payroll.

Thus, scheduling and labor forecasting software helps reduce shift overlap and closes coverage gaps, thus improving customer service.

5. Let go of legacy processes and tools

Optimizing your workforce will involve altering processes, roles, and responsibilities.

To handle resistance from employees, first, identify the bottlenecks in your workflows and think about how you can address them.

Train employees to upskill and move beyond repetitive, manual tasks to complex, value-added work.

Next, examine your legacy workforce optimization tools. It’s likely that they are ineffective and cannot help you manage a multichannel workforce. Thus, you’re lacking in optimizing your customer experience.

Modern workforce optimization tools are driven by AI and ML and automate processes like quality management and performance management to help managers and team members assess productivity, compliance, and accuracy.

Cloud software with innovative features, secure access, and low cost is a good choice, too. It will reduce the total cost of ownership as compared to the cost of on-premise software and hardware.

Wrapping up

The market has shifted to automated tools for workforce optimization in response to the demanding nature and complexity of customer expectations. Legacy processes and tools are giving way to advanced workflows for greater productivity.

Workforce optimization intends to improve the efficiency of people and processes, customer satisfaction, and consequently boost revenue.