In our industry there has been massive investment over the past 10-12 years by companies to improve their real-time planning capabilities. As the demands of customers have risen, the expectation of improved service has escalated and volatility of staff availability has left management scrabbling to meet stakeholder expectations and as a consequence the short term planning team has been severely challenged, so investment is not unexpected.
However, what is unexpected is that this investment has not been in technology, software, automation or AI. It’s been in people. Companies have thrown money at this problem by hiring more people. However, the issues of poor customer service and staff availability still exist in many organisations and this is because the tools available for the real-time team to use have, in the main, not changed. Few companies realise automation is actually available for these teams to use.
Without tools the real-time teams are, in the main, data processors: updating systems with change requests without time to analyse if such changes make sense; providing static reports on traffic volumes without specific measures to either avoid poor service levels or exploit periods of low occupancy, being the bottleneck between operations and planning for staff holiday applications, and manually updating attendance records.
Across our industry, real-time teams vary in size and makeup and those without software, AI and automation tools all share the same traits; they fail to improve efficiency, they have little measurable impact on the bottom line, and so they become a neglected backwater of people who do little to add any strategic value to the management of the organisation and many have incredibly dull but stressful jobs.
Without automation, there is no real-time planning
The volume of data every contact centre has at its fingertips is vast. It must be processed, calculations made, recommendations reached and systems updated a thousand times a shift. This is not possible to do this without automation. For real-time planning to function well, it must be based on automation. QStory’s ‘Intraday Automation’ platform takes over from when schedules are published by WFM teams and provides the automation and decision support that real-time teams require.
Intraday automation done well:
– Has a large measurable impact on efficiency
– Identifies idle time to facilitate staff training, flexibility and engagement
– Provides massive amounts of self service, so reducing the cost of the manual effort
– Has an positive impact on capacity requirements and the WFM process
Moving investment to software and automation in the real-time area has improved customer service, employee engagement and made the jobs of the real-time team valuable and rewarding.
“Our real time team is now starting to adjust to life as analysts (the job they were employed to do!) rather than just being process administrators for shift swaps and holidays etc… and will be able to add significant analytical insight to the business going forward.”
Louise Smith, GM Planning and MI, Jet2