Skip to content

Why Workforce Management Can Make or Break Your Peak Season

June 29, 2023

By Ken Pearson, Senior Vice President of Workforce Management & Planning 

Peak seasons are like regular business but magnified. In retail, for instance, you have the massive holiday shopping peak that begins in late October, something for which we’re preparing right now. It involves scaling CX operations sometimes 30% or more, which always provides a logistical challenge for even the most seasoned experts. This is where effective workforce management comes into play. How do we help clients glide smoothly through the peak? How do we help them scale rapidly? It’s more than good planning, staffing, or scheduling. Workforce management is key to creating a positive employee experience, and that matters, because happy workers are more likely to pay it forward by delivering the best customer experiences.  

How We Help Clients Through the Peak 

Peak seasons are big. In some industries, this is when businesses make up to 30% or more of their total yearly sales. Client expectations are high, and understandably so. As a CX vendor and partner, they have entrusted us with their business and brand. It’s up to us to deliver on our commitments, which involves helping clients ramp up contact center operations in time for the influx of calls, emails, or chats.  

While Operations does much of the capacity and logistical planning, and clients usually provide us with their peak forecasts and performance targets, it’s up to the workforce management team to execute the plan and ensure we have the right strategies in place to guarantee success.  This means, having the right number of agents, staffed at the right time, and doing the right things, with quality. 

How Workforce Teams Help You Ramp Quickly 

Say you have only 90 days to ramp, how do you secure the necessary seasonal agents? Rapid scaling can be a challenge in today's highly competitive labor market, especially if you want to obtain the best talent. The surest way to secure the right talent quickly is to become an employer of choice in the region. We have accomplished this by making significant investments in our training and career development programs. Most importantly, we always try to create the most positive employee experience, which starts at the hiring and onboarding phase.   

Our workforce team provides employee schedules to our Talent Acquisition teams, which they can share with applicants during the interview process. Sometimes, they even allow first pick candidates to select their desired shifts. This is not only helpful for applicants, but also reduces early-on attrition and aids long-term retention by giving candidates a better idea of the available shifts and work hours. That way, they can make a more informed decision before committing to the role.  

We also support our agents throughout the onboarding process, making sure that new hires are aware of their exact production schedule before they finish training, so they know what to expect once they start taking calls. 

How Workforce Teams Help You Ramp Smoothly 

Workforce management is not for the faint of heart. If there’s any hiccup during a peak season, we are often the first to spot it. We also must be quick problem-solvers so that client operations aren’t impacted.  

There are three key components that make everything in a contact center typically go well. First is interaction volume. Second is average handle time. Third is staffing, or essentially attendance.  If staffing levels aren’t kept at target and handle times are up, or volumes suddenly skyrocket, that’s a problem, because as research shows, if service levels drop below 60% (60% of customer calls answered within 30 seconds), customer satisfaction often decreases rapidly.  

Our role as a workforce team is to keep a close eye on those three parameters, and our real-time analysts (RTAs) are key to this. They proactively monitor things like attendance, schedule adherence, and individual handle times. If volumes trend unexpectedly higher, it’s up to our RTAs to find a way to bring staff levels up, by any means, even if that involves pulling in trainers and even managers to temporarily handle calls.  

How Workforce Teams Ensure Ramp Quality 

Studies show, companies that prioritize employee wellbeing are 21% more profitable. Happy employees not only have reduced absenteeism, higher engagement, and higher productivity, they are more likely to go above and beyond to offer a quality experience to customers. And because workforce teams are responsible for setting agent schedules, they can have a deep impact on the day-to-day experience of employees.  

In workforce, our aim is to create employee schedules that are livable and sustainable, using a people-centric approach we call the Human-Centered Business Model, where small niceties often make a difference. Things like sending messages of encouragement to my workforce team or RTAs sending friendly electronic reminders to agents if they forget to take their breaks, not just because we’re ensuring schedule compliance, but for their wellbeing. 

From early on in my career, I discovered that there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect' schedule, but one of the things we look at in workforce management is how to make the employee’s day-to-day experience better. For example, helping them become better agents by managing their time and schedules in a way that’s a win-win for both the business and the employee. 

Why Workforce Teams Are So Essential  

I always say, you’re only as strong as your workforce team. They really play a vital role during ramp season, ensuring that everything goes according to plan. Every day, they must proactively monitor and manage almost 7,000 employees across 15 facilities in 7 countries, which is no small feat. But with our committed and dedicated workforce team behind you, and the right strategies in place, we can pretty much guarantee that we’re going to run the best operations, making sure your peak season goes off without a hitch.  

Ready for Peak Season? Reach out to our CX experts to learn more about working with itel.

View more

More from the Stories section

The 5 Ways We Use CX Data

What does it mean to be a "data led" CX partner? Though it’s standard practice to collect and report data, what matters most is how you use it.

Who Is Switching Energy Providers and Why?

Who is switching energy providers and why? We investigate two key energy markets, the U.S. and UK, to see why some consumers are more prone to switch...

Designing a New “Fitness Journey” in the Digital Experience Economy

Fitness is being virtualized, gamified and made accessible at home through connected devices. What support will be needed to serve this $34 billion in...