SWPP Announces Finalists for 2014 Workforce Management Professional of the Year Award

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – April 11, 2014 – The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) has announced the five finalists for the 2014 Workforce Management Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes a workforce management professional who has shown outstanding leadership in the industry.  The finalists are Kirwyn Adderley of Walgreens, Danielle Cook-Grant of APAC/NCO Group, Heather Jackson of Assurant Solutions, Cynthia Stevenson of Citi, and Alexander Wareham of AAA Western and Central New York.

“I am very proud to present these five workforce management professionals as finalists for this distinguished award,” said Vicki Herrell, SWPP Executive Director. “Each year, there are so many outstanding nominations that it continues to be a difficult task for the SWPP Board of Advisors to select the top five.   Each one of these individuals has demonstrated great skills, leadership, and ability in our industry, as well as delivered measurable results for their companies.”  The winner of the award will be announced at the SWPP Annual Conference, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on April 15-17, 2014.

Kirwyn Adderley joined Walgreens in 2003 and has over 22 years of operations and workforce management experience.  He is the Director of Walgreens Centralized Pharmacy Operations (CPO), and leads a team of 30 workforce management personnel.  Kirwyn’s team supports over 1500 staff in two locations as well at a large percentage who work from home.  The staff handles millions of contacts per year and the workforce management team supports 100% back office work groups.  Prior to joining Walgreens, Kirwyn was employed by Intuit and Household Credit.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and is a Six Sigma Green Belt.

Kirwyn can be described as a strategic, collaborative, creative leader, who actively seeks new opportunities to further the development of his team. Kirwyn places the training and development of his staff as his number one priority. He encourages his team to think outside of the box when searching for solutions.   Kirwyn believes in staying on top of industry knowledge. He has implemented workforce management Town Hall meetings as a forum in discussing industry best practices and business strategies. According to Kirwyn, “You are only as good as your people. I always want to foster learning and growing environment.” In addition to effectively developing his team, Kirwyn is very successful in building relationships. This ability allows him to produce successful partnerships with other business leaders.

When Kirwyn came on board with Walgreens CPO, the business struggled with balancing cost and service. High attrition and excessive overtime were a few of the problem areas that needed to be addressed. Kirwyn quickly led his team through a series of quick wins, in order to drive the business in the right direction and build operational credibility. He did this by training and leading his team through series of process improvement projects that utilized methodologies such as Process Mapping, VSM, Lean Six Sigma, and Control Charting. He quickly implemented WFM planning meetings for forecasting and scheduling improvement, changed the department structure to better align with the organization, redefined WFM practices in some sites, and added an escalation plan to assist with team empowerment. Last but not least, Kirwyn worked on his partnerships with operations, and encouraged open communication lines.

Although back office is fairly new to some call center operations, Kirwyn is no stranger to the back office industry, implementing and streamlining various back office and chat operations since 2004.  Within a year and half of Kirwyn being on board, forecasting accuracy improved by 4%, attrition decreased by 40%, service metrics were met 50/52 weeks in the year, and Walgreens CPO met cost for the first time in Operation. Meeting cost, established the foundation for the expansion of CPO operations. The strategies implemented, and the partnerships created, proved to be a success. Furthermore, the processes implemented by the team have been scalable and sustainable over time. According to Kirwyn, “my goal is to establish a best in class workforce management info structure in support of Walgreens Centralized Operations and growth.”

Danielle Cook-Grant is the Director of Workforce at APAC Customer Services. She leads a team of over 100 workforce management people supporting over 100 locations around the globe and over 40,000 agents.  The agents handle inbound calls, outbound calls, collections, back office, email, social media, and chat amounting to about 30 million contacts per month.

For the last 15 years, Danielle has been developing the knowledge, skills and performance in the workforce management arena to make her essential part of APAC’s customer response. Danielle started her career with NCO, prior to its merger with APAC, at a third party verification site. When the company was launching its first workforce management department, Danielle was sought by the lead of the project to be a scheduler and she quickly developed an aptitude for it.

As Danielle’s passion for workforce management grew, she sought out mentors who could teach her the ropes of call center management. Her initiative and commitment to continuous improvement led to increasing levels of responsibility at APAC. Today she oversees over 100 people and manages the software and capacity planning.

Two and a half years ago, two leading business process outsourcers (BPOs), NCO Group Inc. and APAC Customer Services Inc., merged to become a global leader in the global CRM and ARM BPO marketplace. Both companies had conflicting workforce strategies, processes, and structures. Each geography lead assumed responsibility for a specific discipline, and Danielle’s was Software Tools & Capacity Planning in addition to supporting the Workforce personnel in the Americas. The region consisted of resources spread across Canada, USA, and Panama with little leadership or direction.

Over the course of two years, Danielle’s team created a streamlined and very efficient global structure of support that provides a high level of quality output and engagement.   They aligned Real-time Adherence/Scheduling resources into a Command Center model to create a larger group of resources in a central location support multiple clients and sites, and were able to reduce wage costs by 15% by creating a more efficient model with less redundant positions and move support into low-cost off-shore markets.

The team deployed a standard capacity planning tool and support processes among the sites, standardized all metrics and calculations, and expanded the footprint of capacity planning to all their clients.  They held weekly meetings to review planning and refine upcoming directions to maximize revenue and performance in live web sessions.  develop Global Reporting of all capacity planning metrics (Manpower, Hiring, Shrinkage)

Both companies had legacy workforce management platforms with different versions, functionality, and methods of use.  Danielle and her team integrated one of the systems into a reporting platform and refined the usage of the other system to better enhance planning and scheduling.  Integration into a new workforce management platform is underway. It will create 100% alignment in tool function, usage, and outputs.  Danielle is the lead architect and manager of all software tools, controlling every aspect of its deployment, setup, and use.

The key to Danielle’s success was partnership, not just within the Workforce department but also with a greater level of engagement with the Operations, Training, Recruiting, and Reporting departments.

Heather Jackson is the Director of Contact Center Support for Assurant Solutions.  Heather has been with Assurant for a little over 30 years, with about 25 years in the call center space. She began her career as a Claims Examiner and quickly progressed as the company (then American Security) established their first call center in 1990. Her first leadership role was Supervisor to about 10 associates, later a manager, and then Contact Center Support Director, where she found her calling for the science and art of workforce management. Today, Heather and her team support 650-700 agents in 20 centers across the globe for Assurant Solutions.  Heather’s team includes three Forecasters, a Workforce Planning Supervisor with five Analysts, and a Reporting Team of six people.  Heather has been recognized over the years for many of her accomplishments through various company reward and recognition programs, including being the only person in the history of the company to receive the Assurant President’s Award three times.

Heather’s Solutions COE Pilot group manages call centers with a total of 600-700 agents, of which 250 sit at outsource vendor locations. The agents handle an average of 620,000 calls each month in centers that are diverse, in location and lines of business. Each of the 20 Assurant sites handle very different lines of business/calls: credit insurance claims, extended service contracts, customer service, billing & claims, help desk, debt protection activations, property calls, health insurance inquiries, etc. Additionally, each of the centers has varying hours of operations, language needs, service level, and regulatory requirements.

Heather is known for her collaborative spirit, her sense of urgency, and her passion for excellence. She is passionate about accountability, transparency, and collaboration. She holds her team, the business, and herself accountable. She establishes processes that get results and deliver a clear picture to the different businesses she supports as well as the clients and internal leadership teams.

Heather has accomplished so much in her career with Assurant, including creating standard, daily KPIs that allow business leaders, account executives, and clients to slice and dice through their data, as well as developing and implementing Client Connections, a portal that allows clients to view their call center and claims data with dashboards, easy to use reports, and more, which has built transparency and trust across the sites and client base.  She established standard intra-day processes that limit the number of daily allocations and ensure accountability at the site leadership level while ensuring service targets are met, and created and maintains up-to-date call routing plans.  She has also worked with her leadership team to match forecast to financials at a client level, for both run-off and growing business segments.  Heather also serves on our Assurant Alignment Taskforce Committee that works on establishing consistent Call Center & Workforce Planning Technology across our many sites across the globe.

Heather consistently focuses on doing what’s right and readily shares information, time, and best practices with other workforce planning professionals across the organization. She is honest and forthcoming and her collaborative spirit is the key to our continued success.

Cynthia Stevenson is BP&A Senior Workforce Management Manager at Citi.  Cindy has held a number of workforce management roles in her 23 years at Citi. Her initiative and commitment to continuous improvement have led to increasing levels of workforce management responsibility and contributions to the organization. As Citi consolidated various workforce management teams, Cindy shifted her focus to managing multiple large groups with multi-site configurations, and eventually grew into her currently role as manager over the systems administration team. Cindy now leads a team of 18 that covers all the workforce management system and server requirements of a virtual installation for 40,000 call center agents across more than 80 sites. Additionally, the team manages other software and server installations for branch banking functions (with a staff of approximately 10,000).

In the past year Cindy and her team have greatly impacted Citi’s workforce management initiatives through her project leadership.  Cindy was responsible for fulfilling approximately 300 projects in 2013 involving their workforce management system, including the addition of approximately 6,000 new agents to the system in 2013. Cindy has also demonstrated ongoing success in implementing and maintaining workforce management processes in Citi’s Outbound Collections group. In these efforts, she diligently worked to prove the value of workforce management for the Outbound Collections function and piloted a program that quickly showed significant improvements in availability performance and productivity, which led to more dedicated time for agents to interface with customers and deliver on expectations. By spending extensive time learning more about their products and how to balance schedule efficiency within an outbound environment, Cindy and her team helped Outbound Collections maximize right party contacts. With over 40,000 agents on the system, these projects resulted in a 7% improvement in availability and an overall cost savings of $5.4 million.

Cindy was also responsible for developing and implementing a strategy for customizing the workforce management tool used by the Citi Collections team. Cindy and her team configured a call back scheduling capability so that customers could sync up with the same agent each time they interacted with Citi.  Cindy and her team also successfully met Citi’s goal to provide workforce management services globally for all customer service contacts, which involved bringing each country onto the workforce management platform, helping identify opportunities for group consolidation, providing tools in alternate languages, and training agents. This resulted in ongoing annualized operational cost savings of $5.7 million.

Cindy’s contributions and success demonstrate her unique ability to face challenges and navigate unfamiliar situations with poise and focus, and ultimately find a solution that works for everyone. She has established a phased approach that allows individuals and teams to comfortably and effectively adopt and learn to apply workforce management tools and processes to meet their specific business objectives.  By consistently inspiring confidence not just in herself and her team but also in the potential for meaningful business results, she is a true leader as well an exceptional team player. And while of course there have been bumps in the road along the way, no one would ever know by working with her, as she always maintains a positive and energetic outlook.

Alexander Wareham joined AAA Western and Central New York (WCNY) after 13 years of workforce management experience he gained in contact centers for companies such as Bank of America, Sears, and Fiserv. He is the Manager of Workforce Management and administers both the workforce management and Quality Assurance systems. He supports approximately 100 agents with about 15% working from home.

Alexander paved the way for AAA WCNY to create an extensive and unique calculation to measure the effectiveness of agents and their supervisors within their contact center. With this score, the best agent is ranked and recognized.  This system motivates agents and supervisors to stay on track. In order to emotionally engage agents, AAA WCNY will send agents out with drivers to meet customers face-to-face and gain a better understanding of the organization as a whole and what issues customers may face. Staff can look forward to picnics and participation in Customer Service Week along with onsite seminars to provide agents access to more industry knowledge. These efforts provide customers with able and friendly agents that can assist them beyond the expected call of duty.

Solutions are measured starting with the agent and rolling up to the top tier of each department, contributing to an overall corporate goal every year. AAA WCNY’s contact center scores are almost always at or above the established goals – something Alexander is proud to share with his team. Multi-channel options for customers to engage with the organization are offered beyond the phone call. E-mail and walk-in requests are also addressed and held to the same standards.

AAA WCNY achieved phenomenal cost efficiency with its monthly contests within the call center, another project with Alexander at the helm. Each month has a theme, and the top few agents that score the highest-ranking service levels earn a title linked to that month’s theme and bragging rights. This has been a hit among agents and AAA WCNY has seen over an $80,000 improvement in sales in one month alone.

In an effort to learn more about how to better serve their customers, AAA WCNY delivers a survey after contact center interactions to their customers, and they have seen impressive results. Because of happy agents that go the extra mile and quality services, AAA WCNY reports 85% of customers extremely satisfied with their service and 98% happy.

Technology is an important aspect of AAA WCNY’s contact center, providing agents with cutting edge technology alongside tried-and-true methods. Agents can work from home, and 10-15% of agents take advantage of this option. This is a cost-saving measure that also bolsters agent satisfaction.

Alexander brings a can-do attitude to every environment. Going beyond his own contact center, Alexander is very active in workforce management organizations to spread his knowledge of the subject and constantly bring new ideas back to his contact center. His excitement for always seeking ways to improve the customer experience is apparent.

The SWPP Board of Advisors selected the five finalists from nominations submitted on the SWPP website.  The Workforce Management Professional of the Year award is chosen from the five finalists by the Board of Advisors and announced at the 2014 SWPP Annual Conference.

About SWPP

The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) is an organization devoted to facilitating education and networking opportunities among workforce planners across all industries.  Membership in SWPP is available to all workforce planning professionals and other interested parties from consulting and vendor organizations.  Both individual memberships and corporate membership options are available, with full benefits and costs outlined on the organization’s website at www.swpp.org.

 

##