ProACTIV is the management and administration company of CiV Versicherungen (partner of Citibank) and PB Versicherungen (partner of Deutsche Post and Postbank). With its communications service company, PCC Communication Center GmbH, ProACTIV is always accessible by its customers. The reason: The workforce management system InVision Enterprise WFM ensures that customers always have a competent employee at the other end of the telephone to assist them.
The name ProACTIV represents top quality insurance knowledge available via telephone for an increasing number of customers far beyond the normal bank or post-office opening hours. Operating from two locations in Germany, PCC in fact serves more than just their insurance branch. While the larger of the two centers takes incoming calls, the other one concentrates on outbound calls.
Increased Demand for Insurance Products
PCC initially reacted to the increased demand for insurance products and the related increase in call volume (a 30 per cent increase in calls within the previous year) by creating new jobs in the call centers. As a result, more than 90 agents were employed in the large call center to process the increasing number of incoming calls at the best possible level of service – between 8 am and 8 pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 9 am till 2 pm. Initially, staff planning was organized using Excel charts. “However, with this kind of planning, the actual number and allocation of calls were not considered at all. This soon had a negative effect on our center‘s efficiency. On the one hand, agents were quickly overloaded with work, for example when a new insurance product came onto the market. On the other hand, idle times were increasing. Our agents were simply not productive when no orders came in,“ explains Ingo Czerwonka, Managing Director of PCC. “We needed a solution that could counter exactly these problems while integrating our agents as far as possible in the planning process.” With the declared goals of increasing planning reliability, improving productivity of the service centers and thus reducing the costs caused by bad planning and inefficiency to a minimum, PCC initiated a project for demand-oriented workforce management.
Increasing Planning Reliability
After a four-month selection phase, in which the solutions of six companies were evaluated, PCC decided to entrust its workforce management to the InVision Enterprise WFM supplied by the international software provider InVision Software. “We were looking for a system that would help us to achieve our corporate goals. Their extensive experience in the call center industry as well as the system’s innovative technology were the main reasons for choosing InVision,” says PCC’s management. “InVision Enterprise WFM meets all our requirements for demand-oriented staff planning and the Infothek gives our agents the freedom to determine their own shifts – within certain parameters.” After a five-months testing phase that incorporated training for the administrators, the workforce management system was implemented in the larger of the two service centers.
Integration of Employee Preferences
Two capacity planners (1.5 full time equivalents) co-ordinate the shifts of around 90 agents in the service center. 60 per cent of the employees work full-time with maximum 8-hour shifts, 40 per cent work part-time in variable shifts of four, five or six hours. Martino Mangione, shift planner in the service center, explains the demands put upon the system by the employees: “Most of our agents agree with the principle of choosing their shifts. However, they would much prefer to work the morning shifts. But because particularly in the evenings, after many people arrive home from work, we have an increased call volume, we set the parameters in the system so that every agent must work at least one shift per week ending at 8 pm and one beginning at 9.30 am. Additionally, every agent must work one Saturday per month. That way, the workload is shared fairly amongst the staff, meaning that no-one is disadvantaged.”
Before agents can choose their shifts, the planners use the software to determine the expected call volume for the planning period. They do so by importing historical data from the ACD into the WFM system. The system converts this information into employees or shifts required. The required shifts are planned and made available to the agents, who can then choose their preferred working times using the module Infothek, which is an interactive self-service schedule. Employee preferences can thus be fulfilled in approximately 80 per cent of all cases, leading to a high level of employee satisfaction as far as shift allocation is concerned.
Currently, two working weeks are planned at PCC with two weeks’ notice. In future, this notice period is to be extended to three weeks, in order to improve the planning reliability for the whole company. In addition, agents will be in a better position to plan. However, the possibilities of the workforce management system are not nearly being exhausted at PCC. “Soon, we also want to include the qualifications of our employees in the planning process,” explains PCC shift planner Joerg Lutermann. “That way, we can better spread the knowledge we have and therefore improve the service we offer.”
Quality of Service and Cost-efficiency Increased
On average, between 2,500 and 3,000 incoming calls per day are placed to the service center. Through the implementation of the new WFM system, it has become possible to conclude the majority of these calls successfully. “Even in the evenings, there are always three or four agents present. We hardly have any customers waiting on hold. More than 80 per cent of all calls are answered within the agreed service levels,” Ingo Czerwonka describes the first success since the implementation of the software. By orienting the allocation of agents on the forecasted demand, the shift planners in the service center can react quickly and exactly to the fluctuations in the actual workload.
“In the past, we often had problems due to staff shortages on some shifts. Now we mostly have an optimum staff allocation. Apart from that, idle times and overworked agents are now a thing of the past,” says Ingo Czerwonka. Working processes have become more efficient, considerably reducing friction. Idle times and the related costs have also been dramatically reduced. “With the help of InVision Enterprise WFM, we have been able to increase the efficiency of our workforce by three to seven per cent,” explains Ingo Czerwonka. “This demand-oriented staff allocation has considerably increased the productivity of our service center and we are very well-equipped for the future. We are able to match more calls with more service.”