Call centre planners spend as much as 70% of their time analysing performance and communicating their findings to stakeholders. Activities like forecasting, scheduling and real-time management are a vital part of any planner’s job – but crucially, so is communication.
Unfortunately, when it comes to reporting, your workforce management (WFM) system is letting you down. Despite your best efforts, you can’t generate the reports you need – and if you can’t communicate what’s going on, why, and what needs to be done about it, there’s a problem.
So why isn’t your WFM software generating the right reports?
1) WFM Software Isn’t Optimised for Reporting
As most call centre planners will attest to, there are a huge variety of WFM systems available. As in any competitive marketplace, specialisation is an important tool for WFM vendors to leverage, and each platform tries to differentiate itself from its competitors in a particular way.
Typically, these differentiators can be grouped into four different categories:
- Forecasting features, like automatic forecasting.
- Optimisation features, promoting how sophisticated their algorithms are at generating the best possible schedules.
- Real-time management features, for tracking schedule adherence.
- Staff self-scheduling, allowing staff to swap shifts or make changes to schedules without involving managers and supervisors.
Instead of focusing on communication and reporting, WFM vendors are more likely to develop their capabilities as a schedule optimiser. As a result, it’s extremely rare to come across a WFM system that actively promotes itself as a best-in-class reporting system.
So why does that happen?
2) Optimisation is a Full-Time Job
WFM systems have to create optimised schedules using a huge number of variables, and a whole range of complex limitations and requirements. In order to achieve its primary function, WFM software requires expert input from teams of experienced, highly-specialised engineers. Though those engineers are experts at optimisation, there’s no guarantee they’ll have the same level of day-to-day experience working in a call centre environment.
Without that experience, it’s difficult to understand the needs of planning managers and team leaders, and challenging to develop a reporting system that fully meets their requirements.
3) Different Call Centres Want Different Reports
Crucially, the reporting needs of planners and managers will vary from call centre to call centre.
Every organisation has a different idea of the type of reports it wants, and how it wants them to be generated. To satisfy the needs of most call centre planners, WFM systems would need the equivalent of a complete third-party reporting system built-in.
Most dedicated reporting tools provide functionality to generate elaborate reports and dashboards, save and distribute them to relevant parties, and automatically update reports whenever your database changes. Even with the required expertise, developing this type of cutting-edge reporting system to go alongside a market-leading optimisation engine requires a huge amount of resource.
4) Planners Are Used to Using Third-Party Tools
These standalone tools already exist – and, because planners and managers have a real need for detailed reporting systems, many call centres will bear the costs of using a third-party platform. Where call centres aren’t willing to bear the increased cost, they’ll turn to spreadsheets to generate the reports they need.
As a result, many call centre managers are already skilled in generating reports using third-party tools – and, at least on the surface, there’s little need for WFM systems to improve their own functionality.
Crucially though, there are very real problems with this process. In most instances, Excel spreadsheets are damaging call centre performance, and third-party tools require dedicated training to get the most out of your investment. Planning departments already have to get to grips with powerful WFM systems, and now, also need to spend their time learning how to use complex reporting platforms.
Generating the Right Reports for Your Call Centre
It’s fair to say that few WFM systems will provide the advanced reporting capabilities you need, and unfortunately, dedicated reporting systems have a steep learning curve.
Crucially though, a typical call centre will require both workforce management and a complete reporting system. After planning, the second most important job is communication – and your planning team needs the right tools for the job. As well as dedicated WFM software, you need an intuitive reporting tool that integrates directly with your WFM system.
To learn more about the common problems that limit call centre performance, and how to address them, download our executive summary below.