SWPP Fall Survey Results
Each quarter SWPP surveys the workforce planning community on critical workforce planning topics. Over two hundred call center professionals representing a wide variety of industries participated and provided insight into this quarter’s survey about satisfaction surveys on workforce management practices.
Forty-six percent of respondents in this survey work in centers with over 500 agents. The rest are representative of a wide variety of sizes from under 50 up to 500 agents. The financial, heath care, and insurance industries drew the largest number of participants, but all other industries are also well represented.
Respondents were asked if they perform surveys of their agents to assess their satisfaction with the workforce management processes. Just under half (49%) do not survey their agents. Twenty-nine percent indicated that they do these surveys now and another 22% indicated they were planning to implement surveys soon. Since “when I work” is generally only second to paycheck for overall agent satisfaction and retention, it is important to know how well the process is meeting their needs and desires. It is a constant struggle to find the balance between customer expectations, financial management, and worker satisfaction. Therefore, knowing how well your current processes meet all three of those needs is key to success.
Who is Surveyed
When asked who is surveyed for satisfaction on WFM processes, respondents were able to pick more than one answer as appropriate. Most survey the agents, with fewer asking the opinions of the supervisors and management. Very few ask the vendor partners who may be the outsource providers who share the responsibility for staffing to meet the workload. Since supervisors depend on the WFM team to handle requests from agents and serve as the buffer between the groups when challenges develop and changes are needed, ensuring that supervisors and other management personnel are getting the support they need from WFM is also important.
The respondents were asked if they use the same questions when surveying both agents and other personnel. Slightly over half do and the rest do not. While agents are the ultimate workers of the schedules, supervisors and managers may be more concerned about the timeliness and completeness of the reporting they receive from WFM for decision making.
Frequency of Surveys
The respondents are broadly divided on how often the surveys are conducted. About one-quarter each indicated they survey annually or every six months. Nearly another quarter do them “as needed.” Very few do them as often as monthly. It is important to survey enough to follow developing trends but not so often as to be annoying.
Questions on the Survey
A variety of survey possibilities were offered to the respondents who were asked to mark the all the ones that they included in their survey. The most frequently noted items were satisfaction with the schedule components and scheduling process. These were followed closely by vacation and other time off request handing and the variety of schedule options available. These are generally the items of most concern to the workers as their life often revolves around the work schedule and flexibility to have the time off that is requested is important to overall satisfaction.
Other Questions Included in Surveys
Respondents were asked to provide information on other questions they use in their surveys. The following are examples of the most frequent responses:
- Open-ended question on any other feedback
- Consistency and accuracy
- Easy of use and knowledge of the application
- Timeliness of updates and response to requests
- Length of breaks
- Frequency of bids
- Satisfaction with interaction with WFM team
- New schedule option suggestions
- Topics for further education
Using the information provided by the respondent to the surveys should result in a plan of action to resolve issues and magnify successes. It is good to see that 98% of those doing surveys do put an action plan into place to address the issues raised in the surveys.
Once the survey data is compiled and an action plan developed, the next step for about two-thirds of the respondents is to publish that information. It can be frustrating to be asked for feedback and never see that it was received or if any action is planned based on that feedback. Failure to let the participants know the outcomes and take responsibility for the action plans can often lead to lower and lower participation as the people begin to feel there is little point to the effort. Putting the plans on the table for all to see helps to hold the team responsible for achieving those plans and obtain the support needed from both management and the agents.
Use of Survey Results for KPIs
Respondents were asked if the results of the satisfaction surveys were used as a key performance indicator (KPI) for the WFM team or others. Two-thirds indicated that is not a KPI while one-third do use these results to measure performance. Tracking trends in satisfaction both overall and on specific questions can help to identify challenges that need to be addressed as well as areas of excellence to be rewarded. High levels of agent and management satisfaction can generally be correlated with lower turnover.
Interesting Responses to Surveys
Respondents were asked to describe the most interesting information they have gained from the surveys. The following are some of the most frequent responses:
- Agents suggested schedules that can be a good fit for coverage.
- Some agents suggested alternative schedules but when offered, chose traditional ones.
- Flexibility in start time is OK for some but start time is the biggest issue for others.
- There is a lack of knowledge of WFM roles and responsibilities but also a desire to learn more about WFM.
- Scheduling time for off-phone activities needed to be more flexible.
- I found we are more on track than I assumed.
- The agent view of schedules does not always match supervisors/management’s view.
Based on the responses above, conducting surveys of satisfaction with the WFM processes and results is common practice in many centers. It is a difficult balancing act for the WFM team to keep agents, supervisors, management, and other interested parties happy as their needs can be conflicting. Knowing how well the processes are received by the team members and finding ways to constantly improve the process takes asking for feedback rather than guessing or relying on rumors and the complaints of the most vocal. Ensuring that the survey process is conducted in the most fair and inclusive manner is important to obtain representative results that can result in meaningful action plans.