The Rise of the Blended Workplace
Business Systems UK’s Will Davenport on why ’blending’ front and back office operations should be a priority for all customer-facing businesses
Back in 2017 the International Customer Management Institute found that applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office should be viewed as a business necessity, and that many companies are deficient when it comes to proper exploitation of workforce optimisation (WFO) technology.
They’re far from alone in having this concern. Analysts Gartner are the latest authority to recommend the front office mechanisms you rely on to improve consumer interactions, like customer loyalty programmes or feedback channels, should be much more tightly integrated with your back office – as doing so can cut costs, while a more digital back office could simultaneously reduce consumer engagement budget.
Predict staffing levels and schedule tasks with greater accuracy
The blending of the front and back office isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is one that businesses appear to have neglected to their own detriment. Let’s consider why. One fact is that the majority of customer queries and requests are not dealt with at first point of contact, but are routinely referred to the back office to be processed. In parallel, the multiplication of contact and service channels across touchpoints – email, chatbot, web, social media, SMS and so forth – have pretty much blurred the lines of who is responsible for service.
Hence the idea of automating and optimising this as much as possible using ‘workforce optimisation’ techniques for the contact centre. Here, data is king, as having the right information is key to workforce optimisation. And if you have the right tools to analyse historic call volumes, you can predict staffing levels and schedule tasks with greater accuracy, for example. And if you can automate large sections of operational processes, you can reduce human error and accelerate efficiencies.
WFO is based on the concept that if you can access key contact centre agent performance data in real time and make it properly available, you can begin to do great things for both your business and your customers such as raising service levels, enhancing customer satisfaction, shrinking operational costs and radically cutting down on duplication and waste.
Too few businesses, however, have realised the benefits of WFO, which would blend the two ‘offices’ into one much more harmonious whole. If there is one reason why the benefits of a blended approach have yet to be fully realised by many businesses, it is because the integration of front and back office operations present certain challenges. These tend to be cultural as much as they are structural, in so far as they have arisen from the tendency to separate front and back office functions functionally, not from any inherent incompatibility.
A platform for digital economy success
At the same time, any organisation that wishes to embed more of a customer-facing focus throughout its business cannot ignore the fact that the company’s administrators, analysts, decision makers and production workers have had quite different priorities. Aligning distinct sets of performance objectives, process approaches and skills so that a) everyone remains happy and b) overall outcomes improve - is indeed a delicate balancing act.
But thanks to the increasing sophistication of analytics and automation platforms, technology provides us with the means to overcome these hurdles. So seize your chance, and use the tools available to blend front and back office together in ways that will really help you.
To do so, only use technology that is modular, scalable, platform agnostic and easy to deploy. Choose technology that offers functionality above your regular WFO option – such as advanced analytics and robotic process automation.
As well as a solution that will enable you to keep up with the multiplication of touchpoints and help you enhance customer experience, doing so will also allow you to gain a competitive edge in the ever-growing digital economy.
The author is a Director at Business Systems (UK) Ltd, a specialist for 30 years in providing call recording and workforce optimisation solutions for investment banks and contact centres.