by Marco Mueller, Chief Operating Officer, ASC telecom AG

ASC logoThe increasing prevalence of workforce optimization (WFO) is creating a sea change in both the quality of customer service and the impact of contact centers on an enterprise-wide basis. The information gleaned from agent interactions can be used to identify trends, adjust campaigns, improve processes and even affect product development.

New and powerful tools such as speech analytics, eLearning and coaching, and workforce management are being used to expand the basic functions of quality management and communications recording, but their essential power derives from providing insight into what the customer really wants and how to provide it.

Marco Mueller

Marco Mueller, Chief Operating Officer, ASC telecom AG

WFO solutions recognize the final outcome of customer service is inextricably tied to a human interaction. How that interaction develops is based on a wide variety of factors centering on the agents’ performance and their ability to meet customer needs.

WFO systems handle agents as unique individuals through eLearning and coaching modules designed to determine and then address the unique strengths and weaknesses of each one. The ability to push training to agents in a customized manner creates a loop of continual learning, allowing reps to make progress by focusing on the weakest links in their capabilities.

Workforce optimization also recognizes the centrality of a happy, knowledgeable customer representative, so unlike previous systems, the agent is fully incorporated into the evaluation process. Agents can contest supervisor evaluations by requesting a second opinion, and customer feedback modules can be used to provide or deny verification of their evaluations.

Human Interactions: the Customer 

Making the customer happy often hinges on the ability to achieve FCR (first-call resolution) of their problems. Many of the unique modules in WFO solutions are designed to enable FCR, working either together or separately.

As noted above, improved evaluations encompass input from both the agent and the customer instead of just the supervisor. Agents appreciate being incorporated into the process and are more likely to be engaged in their jobs as a result.

WFO solutions also incorporate a workforce management component to ensure customers are assigned to the right agent with the right skills at the right time. Inefficiencies are avoided with agents who are either overly stressed or bored depending on the call volume.

Human Interactions: Underlying Dynamics

To achieve an optimal human interaction, a number of underlying dynamics must be addressed as well. Speech analytics helps to identify customer trends by allowing contact center management to mine conversations through keyword spotting. Larger contact centers with a previously unmanageable volume of interactions can search for keywords or even use emotion detection to analyze problem calls.

Streamlining process management and creating user-friendly interfaces helps to reduce agent error and makes FCR more likely. Root-cause analysis will discover trends and help prepare agents to anticipate customer needs. And functions allowing real-time assistance for problem calls directly improve FCR as well as providing a welcome safety net to make agents more comfortable and confident.


Workforce optimization provides a lot of sophisticated technology, but its essential power derives from a focus on the human element in customer interactions.

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