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Scottish Power's High Performance Plan Achieved with Workforce Optimization

January 09, 2008

British utility, Scottish Power, recently worked with IEX (News - Alert) Corporation, a NICE company, and provider of workforce optimization solutions, to adopt a high performance plan to turn around disappointing results in its contact center organization.
Even though the company had an array of resources aimed at improving its operational performance, without the right strategic links to employee and enterprise performance and the right tools, the contact center was stuck spinning its wheels.
"The customer service operation was struggling, both in terms of our service level, and our individual performance," said Lynda Clayton, operational planning manager at Scottish Power.
A key part of the improved performance at Scottish Power was the introduction of the IEX TotalView Workforce Management system, a NICE SmartCenter solution which provided the organization with an expanded capability to plan, forecast, and schedule agents to right-sized staffing levels.
The workforce optimization solution also empowered agents to make their own choices and changes in scheduling preferences. "Before our new plan was in place, the workforce team dealt with over 1,200 emails per week requesting time off," Clayton said. By putting more choices in the hands of the agents, that number has been slashed by more than 75 percent, as most changes can be managed from the agent's desktop.
With agents inefficiently scheduled and their performance goals not clearly stated, Scottish Power's service levels had slipped considerably below target and were missing enterprise objectives.
Within just a few months of implementing workforce optimization that included clear adherence goals and tracking, along with a greatly improved approach to scheduling, Scottish Power had its service levels back in compliance. At the same time the company virtually eliminated overtime, generating savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds. "We have had no overtime at all in the last four months, which made us realize how inefficient we were when we had overtime every day and every weekend," Clayton says.
By tracking adherence, the company was also able to eliminate a serious problem with offline scheduling. Informally, adherence was below objectives, but without the ability to plan offline time around call demand, it was virtually impossible to schedule offline time for agent training and coaching, which was limiting development. Now, adherence is formally higher and offline time can be planned, keeping agent development on track to meet enterprise customer service goals.
The key changes at Power were not strictly technological. "One of the first things we realized when we looked at our planning function was that we did not have clear rules and responsibilities within the team, and that meant we did not have the tools we needed to plan properly. There were 16 people on the team but we were lucky if one-quarter were doing actual planning work—most were doing reports or other administrative tasks."
With workforce optimization, and the right tools and procedures in place, Scottish Power now runs a much more effective high performance contact center, with a planning staff of just eight instead of 16.
Scottish Power has also made rapid improvements in both operational and agent performance, providing better service to customers at sustainable levels of investment in the contact center. "We are much more aware of what is going on with our customers, how well we are performing, and have a more positive working environment," Clayton said.
For more, check out the Workforce Optimization channel on TMCnet.
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.
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