Nearly a decade ago, HMRC commissioned PwC to undertake a study of private companies, which had sought to implement closer integration between front and back office operations. 

As a result, recommendations were made on how to approach the use of technology and ‘work blending’ in order to optimise all resources – not just human and technology but front and back office as well.

In that time, little has changed. Workforce Optimisation technology – which offers quantifiable SLAs and targets for core business processes – is still very much the preserve of the front office/contact centre, despite HMRC’s counsel that applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office was a business imperative. In 2017, the International Customer Management Institute concluded that while applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office was a business imperative, businesses were failing to make best use of the capabilities of workforce optimisation (WFO) technology to do just that.

Service is everyone’s responsibility

After all, the majority of customer queries and requests are not dealt with at first point of contact, but are instead routinely referred to the back office to be processed. Meanwhile, the proliferation of contact and service channels – email, chatbot, web, social media, and SMS – means the traditional understanding of who is responsible for service has been overturned. The era of the majority of service requests being received through a single channel managed by one department is at an end. Meeting the increasing demand for highly-responsive, premium quality Customer Experience (CX) across all channels, has now become the responsibility of every department.

How can ‘blending’ help?

According to Gartner, one of the key characteristics of a workforce optimisation solution is that it “integrates disparate contact centre technologies – including contact centre performance management, e-learning, interaction analytics, quality management, and workforce management”. As customer touchpoints diversify and businesses increasingly compete on the quality of the CX they provide, there is no need to restrict optimisation to the contact centre.

If modern WFO solutions are built on the ability to integrate disparate technologies as Gartner claims, then why not apply them across all systems?

WFO is based on the understanding that, if you can access key performance data in real time and make it available to everyone, you can start to drive a wide range of improvements, such as raising service levels, boosting customer and employee satisfaction, cutting operational costs, meeting SLAs, and improving productivity and efficiency.

Information is key to workforce optimisation. If people know precisely what they need to do to meet call handling time targets or reduce queue times, they can improve their performance. If you have the right tools to analyse historic call volumes, you can predict staffing levels and schedule tasks with greater accuracy. If you can analyse calls and match queries to staff with the right skill sets, you can improve first-time resolution rates. If you can automate large parts of the operational processes, you can cut down on human error and boost speed and efficiency.

Modern workforce optimisation tech exists that combines all of these capabilities, providing the right tools and the right level of advanced functionality to make it ideal for integrating front and back office. Look for modern technology that offers a modular, flexible, easy to implement solution, and crucially is platform agnostic and highly scalable. Look for functionality such as smart work allocation, robotic process automation, something that can provide you with operational insight, dashboards, and so on.

Seventy-five percent of business leaders rank improving the Customer Experience as a top strategic priority. But in the context of rapidly evolving technologies and multiplying digital channels, the old rules for how you deliver an outstanding Customer Experience are being torn up. This is why workforce blending should be coming to the fore. Back office, front office working in harmony – keeping the customer happy.

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