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Workforce Management within the financial services sector

WFM within the financial services sector

'Original article and picture taken from the FStech website June 2016.'

Workforce management within the financial services sector - is there real value to be gained?

Whether we are talking about a financial institution’s branch network or contact centre, both channels are still central in the delivery of personalised customer service, and indeed they are both people-intensive.

Managing, however, a workforce of hundreds or thousands of employees with different skills across different locations can be a complex balancing act between the demands of customers, staff and management. Customers expect quality service and staff availability; employees want job satisfaction and work-life balance; and management demands efficient, profitable and sustainable operations.

Enterprise WFM solutions help increase profitability and improve employee retention and customer satisfaction by optimizing people-intensive operations, like the contact centre, the branch and the supporting back-office departments. They provide the tools and functionality necessary to effectively manage staff, forecast demand, create schedules automatically, develop accurate and insightful reports and improve the overall customer service operation in terms of service quality and cost.

The guiding principle behind WFM is ensuring the right people are in the right place at the right time. With advanced forecasting and scheduling functionality, enterprise WFM solutions make planning within a multi-site, multi-skill and multichannel operation easy. Parameters like seasonal variations and campaign periods, as well as staff preferences, availabilities, skills, contracts and work rules, are combined to allow us to forecast centrally and then distribute the workloads to different sites, or even different outsourcers that the financial institution might be using for BPO and contact centre services.

WFM for the Branch network

For the branch, being able to allocate the correct amount of resource to the different roles (from cheque processing and mailroom operation to specialized product consultants and cashiers) is something that can be done with ease using WFM. The more advanced enterprise WFM solutions may be integrated with the queue management system, helping to ensure that all positions within a branch are covered according to the specific requirements and traffic of that branch. Moreover, by assigning skills (front of house, loans etc) we also have the capability to optimise the use of resource to backfill any absences.

WFM for the Back Office

For the Back Office, whether in the branch or the contact centre, new generation WFM not only offers efficient forecasting and scheduling capabilities for back-office tasks, but new functionality is available in the market in the shape of Desktop Analytics. WFM Desktop Analytics can identify keyboard/mouse idle time and also detect the start/stop of each instance of a process being carried out. Therefore, for the first time, WFM can track adherence with non-phone related activities just as it does with phone based work. This means that we now have visibility as to how efficiently tasks are being carried out in the back office or at the branch.

WFM for the Contact Centre

For contact centres, WFM technology has already proven its value as the first WFM implementations have been traditionally targeted to facilitate their operation. Two new features that dominate today in some of the more modern WFM solutions are Self-Service and Real-Time Adherence.

The self-service elements that are now available within WFM can certainly improve employee engagement. As the members of our teams within the contact centre (or even the branch) are able to view their schedules, have input by stating their preferences and/or availability, book holidays and even trade shifts, they feel empowered. WFM vendors have worked hard to progress with self-service and the fact that this type of functionality can be made available whilst a member of staff is at home or on the go (e.g. by accessing the agent portal via a link), just makes this that much more impressive. 

Real-time adherence can also be a major benefit to companies within the financial services sector. Team leaders can view real-time adherence to ensure staff are carrying out their work as scheduled. One of the most popular features is the online access capability offered by advanced WFM solutions, which means that team leaders and supervisors can walk the floor whilst monitoring adherence in real-time. The availability of real time data, also allows us to quickly react to volume fluctuations by “Re-Forecasting” and increase or decrease the resources we are using accordingly. This means that we can act swiftly when we have unexpected absences or on those busy days which often catch us out and have a negative impact on our service levels. 

WFM for Recruitment

Finally, enterprise WFM solutions make possible the use of “What If Scenarios” in planning; a task that would otherwise be impossible to perform. The use of “What If Scenarios” can be particularly useful with recruitment, helping identify how many more staff we need, and where we need them.

WFM & ROI

Overall, the return on investment that can be achieved by implementing an enterprise WFM solution within financial services is high and manifold. Operational and cost efficiencies, increased employee engagement and retention, and improved customer satisfaction are just the start.