From the beginning of time, organisations around the world have been dealing with the important challenge of driving growth whilst keeping costs down and customers happy.
However, we live in a time where customer’s expectations and demands continue to exponentially grow whilst customer loyalty disappears. Not only do organisations need to work hard to get new customers, they need to work even harder to retain existing ones.
Expectations around how service is delivered are changing. Increasingly, the old-style agent is not where customers expect to find answers to queries and solutions to problems, preferring instead self-help, peer-led and automated options. In the digital age, there are important questions for businesses to ask themselves about the nature of service provision, and where responsibility for it should lie within their organisation.
In order to achieve these objectives, organisations need to look at their people, processes and technology and, although businesses have been working hard to improve their contact centres, most efforts have been directed to the front end, with little being done to address back-office challenges.
Have you revisited your Back-Office Operations recently?
If you’re like most companies, you’ve probably been managing your back-office in the same way for many years. The problem however is that, with added communications channels and customer expectations, the volume of work in the back-office continues to increase.
Business process management (BPM) solutions have been used in back offices for years as they provide a framework and tools for automating the back-office (as well as many other types of activities). However, BPM solutions concentrate on automating workflow – the movement of work from one activity to the next – not on optimising staff performance, productivity and quality – leaving three major back-office staff-related challenges unresolved:
- Capture, monitor and track all back-office work and employee performance (not just the work arriving and completed)
- Ability to accurately forecast and schedule resources with the right skill sets to handle each work activity
- Measure and enhance the quality and consistency of outputs to gain a competitive advantage through an improved customer experience
Related article: How to measure productivity in the Back-Office
Human behaviour bottlenecks for back-office efficiency
Despite the press hype that robots will make large numbers of staff redundant, the reality is that robots and people need to continue to work side by side for the foreseeable future as some business processes simply require human intervention.
However, human behaviour is not always reliable nor in line with what is important for the organisation.
- Picking and choosing work
Generally, people prefer to pick and choose the type of work they want to do. For example, when you offer lists of work items, your employees will spend a good portion of their time searching and selecting the work item they would like to work on. Though this might occasionally be ok, it’s easy for employees to become unclear about what work should be handled first and concentrate more on tasks they enjoy doing, regardless of importance or priority.
- Operate in stealth mode
Detailed employee performance metrics are often not available in BPM and workflow systems, making it difficult to understand the real handle time of a work item. For examples, employees might be given a set handle time of 10 minutes per task, even if some tasks only required a couple of minutes, like processing a change of address.
- Peer-to-peer performance
People naturally perform differently. While some employees have a natural strong work ethic, others are more inclined to work below their capacity. If work is not balanced in a fair way across the workforce, resentment and employee dissatisfaction are likely to occur, resulting in top-performers reducing their output to match that of their less motivated colleagues.
- Overworked staff
With operating cost in mind, the back-office workforce is mostly understaffed, which results in backlogs of work that cause stress and dissatisfaction which, more often than not, result in employee absenteeism and disengagement.
What is Back-Office Optimisation?
Back office optimisation is the process of streamlining and automating workforce tasks that occur in a contact centre, and aligning back-office functions with front office workflows in order to improve customer experience (CX) across the customer lifecycle.
An optimised back office is key to providing a consistent, seamless end-to-end customer journey. Typically, the back office departments—accounting, IT and human resources—are independently operating departments with disconnected tasks that can easily affect the overall customer experience which can lead to frustrated, disenchanted customers and employees.
OPX – Workforce Optimisation Solution
From managing cultural change to aligning strategic priorities to integrating data streams from multiple sources, getting the front and back office workforce to work seamlessly together presents numerous challenges. But, thanks to the increasing sophistication of analytics, automation and workflow optimisation technology, organisations are able to integrate the two for higher customer satisfaction.
OPX – Back-Office Optimisation is one platform which combines all of these capabilities.
OPX provides everything your normal WFO suite would provide – advanced analytics and reporting, smart work allocation and case management, robotic process automation and more. The key difference is that it can apply these tools across the board to multiple systems at once, not just in the contact centre. As a platform agnostic solution, it is not only simple and affordable to deploy, it is compatible with any existing IT platforms and highly scalable.
In terms of core capabilities, OPX can:
- Orchestrate and automate workloads
- Manage inbound demand channels
- Automatically allocate resources, regardless of location
- Adapt scheduling in real time according to need
- Blend operations across the back office and front office
- Blend deployment of human and robotic agents
- Provide continuous in-depth reporting and data to provide end-to-end operational insight via its Management Information (MI) tool
Back-Office Optimisation Benefits
- Reduce operational costs by driving out workflow inefficiencies
- Gain operational insight to increase productivity and utilisation at individual, team or complete book level
- Improve compliance for tasks that must be accomplished within regulated time frames, which also reduces fines
- Meet service goals and reducing backlogs
- Achieve work/life balance for employees
Adopting a mindset for digital transformation
In order to stay in the game, organisations need to be able to evolve and deliver on customer expectations. Responsibility for delivering great customer experience is no longer isolated to one department but requires everyone to work together to deliver an efficient, hassle-free service that keeps the customer happy.