SWPP Announces Finalists for 2018 Workforce Management Professional of the Year Award

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – May 28, 2018 – The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) has announced the five finalists for the 2018 Workforce Management Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes a workforce management professional who has shown outstanding leadership in the industry.  The finalists are John Campbell of CNA Insurance, Mark Hernandez of Compassion International, Lisa Hoelscher of LanguageLine Solutions, Lydia Lefter of Emerald Contact Centre, and Robert Wright of Manulife.

“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 is held in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 4-6, 2018, at the Omni Hotel.

John Campbell is the Manager of Workforce Management for CNA, a property and casualty insurance provider.  The operation includes five sites with 500 agents, handing phone, email, and back-office processing Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM.  Technologies in use include Finesse, Salesforce, ECE, and Verint.  John has been published in the SWPP newsletter, On Target, and has been an “Exceeds Level” employee the past three years as his role has continued to expand.

John has been in WFM for almost 15 years.  During the last four years at CNA, he has progressed from being an analyst supporting one location and a couple of teams to leading a team of analysts and consultants that support multiple locations and business units.  John is a strong project manager and commands control and respect of teams as they work toward solutions.  He is viewed as a trusted advisor and true consultant to the business.

“John’s span of control will continue to grow and he has the aptitude to support the business in more ways than just WFM, including Business Process Redesign and Change Management,” said Heidi Bendick, AVP Customer Service and Sales.  She defines him as “one of the most emotionally intelligent professionals I have worked with in my career.  He has a keen sense for the employee experience and how people process change and pressure.”

John was asked to support two major projects over the past year.  The first was to unite the fragmented and siloed operations, some of which utilized WFM and some that did not.  The second was to build a WFM Center of Excellence to support not only all the enterprise contact centers, but also support back-office processing centers for capacity planning, forecasting, and scheduling.  He was instrumental in a process to model various scenarios of how the work gets done and how many people are needed in each scenario.  He based this on historical inventories, contact volumes, and working with the business to forecast future volumes and patterns. The WFM system in use during the project was outdated, and he developed spreadsheets and models that are being used to help migrate to updated technology now.  He has worked closely with business units not yet supported by WFM to demonstrate the value to leaders so that they can release the burden of traffic control and staff planning and focus more on coaching and development of their staff.  John’s analysis around redesigning the way CNA configures contact centers stands to save the business over $650,000 in HR costs alone (almost 15%).

According to Bendick, “John is an exceptional people leader and thought partner.  The feedback I receive from our business partners around his expertise and advice is outstanding.  The people who report to him consistently rave about John and the support and development he provides to their career.”  This perception is supported by other team members including Lynn McConnaughey, Business Process Consultant, who stated, “John Campbell consistently impresses as a professional, a mentor, and a colleague, but his focus is clearly being a results-oriented, people-engaging leader.”  Several others from both within WFM and in other departments provided support for John’s nomination, including Candace Chiavira, WFM Analyst, who stated, “John is very passionate about workforce management.  He is a great boss.  He really cares about people – not just his staff, but everyone in the call center.”

 

Mark Hernandez has served as the Workforce Management Supervisor for Compassion International for over 13 years.  The operation includes three locations with approximately 140 agents.  The organization recently opened a new site in the Philippines, which is their third site since starting with 20 representatives at the main office in Colorado Springs. Two sites in the Philippines are fully staffed by former Compassion-sponsored children.  They are proud to be a part of providing employment opportunities in the countries where they serve children, so they can support their own “family.”

Last year, Compassion International underwent a complete organizational CRM and financial system transition. There were benefits in global efficiencies, but it also resulted in a 33% increase in contact center inbound handle times. Although an increase was expected, it was much more significant than anticipated. In addition, Compassion experienced some unexpected international news that increased volumes. With wait times increasing and abandon rates skyrocketing, the centers suddenly were very understaffed, which became a significant WFM challenge that needed immediate action. Everything came to a head while Mark was at the 2017 SWPP Annual Conference, and Mark and his team immediately found a conference room on-site, connected with contact center leadership, and remotely worked through possible solutions.

The challenge was to immediately add capacity without adding headcount, since that would take several weeks, and without impacting other critical service channels or customer experience by rushing calls and talk times.  The goal was to reduce wait times and ultimately abandon rates, since data showed that nearly 40% of abandons do not call back, resulting in lost revenue, donations, and gifts.

Mark and his team determined that if after call work (ACW) could be reduced by 15 seconds per interaction, it would significantly reduce wait times and reduce abandons.  WFM issued the achievable challenge to reps and it had an immediate impact. On comparable volumes the next day, ACW dropped 18 seconds and the abandon rate decreased by 50%. Over the following three months, ACW decreased by 51.5% and the abandon rate fell by 53%. This trend has been sustained over the past 12 months. ACW has decreased 62.4%, while the abandon rate improved by 60%, all without compromising the experience of the caller.  After Call Survey satisfaction scores remained above 90% throughout this period and are now consistently at or above 95%.   This example alone of what a few seconds over the course of volumes can impact saved Compassion nearly $500,000 last year in headcount, and the reduction in abandoned calls mitigated a potential revenue loss of $1.6M.

The WFM team has used the Monet cloud-based WFM system since 2005.  Prior to that time, spreadsheets were used, but after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, Mark realized that Compassion needed a more sophisticated tool to manage WFM in their organization. He uses the WFM tool to justify and show staffing needs, and he has been able to better leverage the staffing he has while maintaining the culture at the forefront.

With the added capacity realized last year, the company projects that they will be able to increase the number of sponsorships saved when children leave the program by 14.6%, and increase sponsorships saved on cancel calls by 9.6% in 2019.  Over the course of the year, this translates to over $6.1M in lifetime value and saves dollars in subsidies and new sponsor acquisition costs.  The after-call survey results shows a 98% approval rating by the organization’s supporters.

“Mark is one-of-a-kind when it comes to people.  The team he leads meets one-on-one with reps on a regular basis to help them understand and embrace the partnership and role of WFM.  Mark speaks in our town hall meetings, and I’m convinced he was a major reason we had an attrition rate of only 5% in the past 12 months,” said Rich Van Eaton, Director of Sponsor & Donor Relations.

 

Lisa Hoelscher serves as the Team Leader for Staffing Analysis for LanguageLine Solutions, which operates a phone and video conferencing interpretation service in 16 sites with over 8000 agents on a 24/7 basis.  The WFM team of 60 utilizes the Verint system.

Lisa joined LanguageLine as a call agent in 2004, then joined the WFM team in 2005.  She has performed various functions within the team over the last 13 years including real-time supervisor, forecasting and scheduling, and now team leader of the staffing analysis team.  She is responsible for adjusting staffing based on changing trends in call arrival patterns and staffing, as well as running different staffing models for the organization.

Lisa is the organizational expert in Verint and call routing in the organization’s new technological environment.  She has developed processes around forecasting, scheduling, and line management for Operations and WFM, as well as supporting the IT department during upgrades.  She helped to define the processes for the current call routing environment and is a key member of various groups that review results of any call routing changes and make adjustments to improve them.

The company went through a major technological upgrade of the last few years that required a phased implementation.  This effort resulted in moving from languages ranging from approximately 1-2 skills each (a total of less than 100 total skills) to an environment when languages average between 5-160 skills each, putting the organization at over 20,000 skills.  Lisa played an integral role in the transition, temporarily changing her role to specifically focus on this transition project for one year.  She coordinated with IT and WFM to ensure the feeds between the ACD and the WFM tool were properly set up, worked with WFM to ensure the software had agents properly assigned to the new forecasting and scheduling campaigns, ran staffing models, and helped the project planning team define the process to automatically create new skills in the new environment based on customer demand.

With her assistance, the efficiencies gained to achieve growth were 8% above expectations, as the center was able to more effectively route calls to the appropriate interpreters and reduce the need for more hiring.

After completing the transition projects, Lisa rejoined the WFM team.  She is a five-time nominee for LanguageLine’s Quarterly Recognition Award, and she has won it twice for showing role model behavior, supporting her teammates, and specifically for taking initiative to correct a call routing error that increased efficiency and reduced cost.  She is routinely recognized by her peers for regularly going above and beyond.  “She has the respect of management and her peers throughout the organization and is truly a role model for all to follow, including myself,” according to Jesse Flores, Senior Strategic Planning Manager, WFM.

 

Lydia Lefter is Manager of Forecasting & Planning for Emerald Contact Centre, which operates two contact centres with 190 agents.  The operation, which is headquartered in Ireland, handles inbound, outbound, email and chat contacts for clients.  Lydia is part of a two-person WFM team using Cisco, Calabrio, Five 9, and Verint technology.

Lydia started out as an inbound call and email specialist.  Because she had an interest in and passion for the business, she moved into reporting, where she demonstrated a keen ability to “connect the dots” and tell a story using numbers.  When the company converted from using an outside consultant for WFM, it made sense to utilize this smart, passionate, and dedicated individual in that role.

“Lydia’s passion and personal accountability are evident in every piece of information she presents.  Lydia is organized and precise when she presents both data and analysis and her overall communication is second to none.  I suppose many people can master the ‘task’ but few consume the information and interpret it in a way that allows others to feel confident about decisions made,” said Roseann Miller, President of TCC and Emerald Contact Centre.

The organization needed to shift from loss to profit while controlling client costs.  Lydia was able to contribute to this effort through diligent planning that understood and anticipated attrition, shrinkage, subtle details that contribute to loss (e.g., increased AHT during training), and making adjustments along the way.  She implemented a one-hour, weekly state-of-the-business meeting which reviews performance across all channels and teams within the centers.  She uses a proprietary Long-Term Planning (LTP) workbook to determine staffing needs on a rolling 12-month basis, and the tool exposes every trackable metric across the channels.  With the LTP workbook, Lydia is able to achieve her goal of consistently meeting actual workload equal to or greater than forecast workload.

With targeted hiring, associated AHT, and other performance goals, the centres are able to staff appropriately.  Because training and staffing timelines are precise, agents can generate revenue on pace to keep agent ROI under six months.  And the LTP tool that anticipates volume and staffing on a rolling 12-month basis is used to create annual centre budgets.

Lydia presents the long-term plan weekly to the senior management and the director-level staff, including all stakeholders: HR, Training, Operations and Client Services.  She facilitates collaboration to ensure departments are working in sync and on time.

“I’m hoping that this is only Lydia’s first recognition in the workforce planning arena, with many more to come,” Miller added.

 

Robert Wright has been a workforce management (WFM) professional for over 15 years.  He currently serves as the Manager of Intraday and Scheduling for Manulife, which operates five contact centers with approximately 700 agents on an 8 AM to midnight schedule.

When Rob joined Manulife two years ago, the WFM team had recently been centralized and was moving to Verint from another software. The team was struggling with low morale, a manager that did not have a WFM background, a new director within the team, and a contact centre that did not run like a true contact centre.  He immediately went to work making recommendations on how to make the team more efficient and streamlined, along with providing proactive analytics and recommendations to the contact centres his team supported to show them the value of WFM.

Rob was primarily responsible for ensuring that the team he inherited in WFM learned how to use the new tool, and he became the expert so that he could train and coach them on how to use it effectively. He also made recommendations on making the team more efficient and provided proactive analytics including occupancy, after call work, and a few simple KPIs so that the contact center leaders had transparency and could drive accountability.  Rob taught the leaders how to pull reports from the system and set up daily reporting from his team.  He expanded the team’s scope to include a sales contact center and built their WFM service from the ground up.  His problem-solving ability and ability to think outside the box serve him well in tense situations.  Rob set expectations with all his direct reports and for the first time in years he was able to raise engagement levels and increase productivity on the team.

Rob was able to increase service levels by getting the business to agree to tactical plans.  He also standardized reporting for all the leaders and brought communication protocol to major outages/incidents within the center.

Measurable results of Rob’s efforts have shown increased employee engagement, a decrease in absences, an increase in positive feedback from peers/partners, and succinct goals/KPIs that will continue to be monitored over time.  He also successfully created and executed on several large queue consolidations projects and brought 283 queues down to 203, saving money and reducing the complexity for callers and the business.  The savings equate to five FTE on a team of 19.  The organization has seen an improvement of employee engagement scores by more than 10 base points, an increase in overall contact center adherence of 2%, and has been able to successfully retain a very demanding client.

Rob’s passion for WFM comes through in every interaction he has with his team, peers, clients, and business partners. Rob has a very clear “can do” attitude and is always the first to roll up his sleeves and dig into anything that comes to the WFM team.  Rob’s dedication to coaching, training, and mentoring his team has created a high performing culture and team. Rob has taken a makeshift team, and through hard work, many extra hours, dedication, and enthusiasm, has turned the group into a successful, strong WFM team that is now recognized for its reliability and strong partnership.

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 2018 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.