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HP Executive Interview

Roger Lee, HP Customer Experience Leader, HP

Focusing on the Human Side of Workforce Optimization  

Roger Lee, an industry veteran, has spent more than 20 years preaching the gospel of adapting contact center technology to meet agents’ needs. A sought after keynote speaker, he was recently asked to explain Workforce Optimization (WFO). This was a question that was right up the alley of a man who blogs under the name Dr. WFO.

“Whatever solution you have, the challenge is to take the information that a company captures and use it to assess core needs and improve the performance of agents and supervisors,” said Lee. “Workforce Management (WFM) is a more familiar concept . But WFM is actually a component of Workforce Optimization, which is a more inclusive technology that incorporates staffing requirements, and can also include tools for strategic planning, call recording, coaching and eLearning, interaction analytics, surveying, and more.”

Another thing that many people in the industry are not aware of is HP’s long-term involvement in developing WFO solutions. “The process began with Teknekron Infoswitch,” said Lee. “Then it was etalk, Autonomy etalk, etalk Qfiniti and now HP Qfiniti10.”

HP Qfiniti 10 extends the pioneering legacy of etalk. The modular WFO suite includes components such as Workforce, for precise agent scheduling and forecasting; ICE, which enables contact centers to intelligently monitor, record, and analyze customer interactions to help meet compliance requirements; and Observe, which enables organizations to build automation into voice and screen recording.

According to Lee, there are two modules that differentiate Qfiniti 10 from other WFO solutions. The first is HP Explore, an advanced Voice of the Customer (VoC) tool, which provides multi-channel analytics to give companies a greater conceptual understanding of related patterns and trends that exist in interactions across various touch points.

“Explore takes customer analytics to the next level, allowing contact center professionals to see beyond the individual items and discover the ‘unknown unknowns’,” said Lee. By understanding information as humans do -- identifying and prioritizing concepts within a piece of information -- businesses can develop customer insights that can genuinely make a difference, not just in the contact center but in other business units as well.

The second module that Lee feels separates Qfiniti from the pack is Optimize, which captures user desktop activity and measures and reports on user processes through desktop analytics. “I’ve heard people say that desktop analytics is not a ‘sexy’ terminology,” said Lee. “But if you want to know whether your agents have the right tools on their desktop, what apps they’re using and how long they’re spending with them, then it’s extremely valuable.”

He cited an example in which a company required groups of 10 to 15 agents to take a series of three training classes over a four-to-six week period. “In one of the groups, the attrition rate was 50%, where the others were retaining 80 to 90%.” Initially, the company was unable to understand which behaviors being taught made agents successful. “Through the use of analytics, the organization was able to determine that the trainer in the high attrition class was not well versed on workflow and the lack of consistency was causing trainees to find it not a good fit. They were then positioned to show where the trainer needed coaching and fix the problem,” noted Lee.

While Lee is a strong believer in the technology behind the Qfinti 10 WFO suite, he also sees it as just one of three pillars on which a better customer experience is based. “There’s technology, process and the agent, who’s at the core of the foundation of any contact center.” He discussed the concept of agent empowerment. “To many companies, this means simply allowing the agent to give credits up to a certain amount as opposed to providing the coaching and guidance to enable agents to do what is necessary to make the customer feel valued.”

He suggests that businesses assess the generational make-up of their contact centers to help ensure their staffs are set up for success. “Companies can use the information captured from WFO applications to coach, recognize and reward performance. For example, by tagging agents by ‘date hired’, they can measure the differences between “newbies” versus experienced personnel.

With the HP Qfiniti 10 Advise module, evaluation tasks can be streamlined. Customer and desktop recordings provide a bounty of information for agent performance improvement. But to drive QA efficiency, supervisors must be able to find and use this recorded data. Instead of searching for calls, they can set up a “bucket” in which they receive calls every day by pre-set criteria. One client reported that not having to hunt for calls resulted in time saving, as much as 20%, or up to eight hours a week.

“Companies can see whether there’s a change in behavior when agents are dealing with angry customers, by looking at the beginning, middle and end of the calls in question,” said Lee. “When the right data can be tracked, more insight can be gained with the same amount of evaluations.”

Lee is an advocate of common-sense metrics. In one company, the requirement for customer satisfaction was set at 98%. While alerts can be sent to supervisors when targets are not met, he believes that this was too inflexible a standard. “If an agent gets a 97% rating, then he or she has failed. In any situation, most people consider 90% an ‘A’ rating.”

One success story he recalls is walking into a Subway restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk, where agents in a training class were having lunch. He heard them state that while they knew they had a lot to learn, they felt they were being well taught, well compensated, and appreciated. They had met the owners of the business and felt privileged to be included in such a positive environment. “When a company can find the time to properly teach the policies and procedures that need to be followed, and give agents the training to address and resolve issues, that’s real empowerment.”