Taming the Wild West: Bringing the Back Office into Your Omnichannel Contact Center

By Andrea Matsuda, NICE

In many organizations today, the back office is like the Wild West—operations are often uncharted, unstandardized, and unsupervised by a centralized authority. Back-office teams often have their own processes separate from their organizations, along with their own metrics and accountability standards, making it almost impossible to compare productivity across teams.

Without consistent standards, back-office operations turn into a question mark. You can end up with long backlogs, repeat tickets, and duplicate contacts, costing team members valuable time when reaching out to customers with resolved issues.

And there’s no clear winner when it comes to a strategy for the back office. A recent Contact Center Workforce Management survey found: Respondents were evenly split (50%) between using similar service level objectives across channels and different ones, and 54% of the respondents treated reopened tickets/cases as ongoing interactions, not new ones.

But just as modern progress ended the Wild West more than 125 years ago, digital advancement is forcing organizations to rethink how they manage the back office. Organizations are coping with economic uncertainty and rising interest rates, and as a result, they are embracing the omnichannel contact center to realize a wide range of benefits. According to DMG Consulting, companies that combine back office and related contact center functions can reduce staffing in the back office by 25% to 40%, while speeding up processing, increasing first contact resolution (FCR), and reducing errors.

It’s time to make the back office as manageable as the front office. Every contact center has different circumstances and needs, but by using data and analytics to accurately staff, measure, and improve operations across the front and back offices, organizations can increase back office productivity and proficiency. To make the two sectors work together, organizations must find a way to normalize two very different environments.

How to Make the Back Office Manageable

The back office can be managed just as effectively as the front office. Doing so, however, requires normalizing back-office work activity into an interval of time that can be merged with immediate response channels, such as voice.

Backlog, or deferrable work, does not require an immediate response and is often long in duration and asynchronous. With such work in the back office, organizations can use NICE’s True to Interval (TTI) Analytics to deconstruct the work items into interval-specific data to be blended with immediate response work items. TTI Analytics introduces “activity-based staffing requirements” for each type of contact rather than simple contact-based staffing requirements. This opens a door to a planning regimen previously unknown, enabling workforce managers to effectively blend front office and back-office work streams.

Workforce managers also need a method to “reconstruct” interval-specific work effort into a more meaningful workload estimate. This helps determine whether staffing is sufficient to maintain a healthy backlog, and NICE WFM’s Inventory Insights capability offers a solution.

Inventory Insights automates the forecast of inventory backlog and expiration in blended as well as dedicated operations. The system uses existing WFM data at the 15-min or 30-min planning interval to “reconstruct” work activities into overall turnaround time (TAT) estimates for each work item. The Back Office WFM team is able to analyze inventory data and predictions in multiple time grains (from 15 minutes to a full week) to create new insights about work that is deferrable (held in backlog). The solution performs robust data analysis of backlog data, forecast data, and schedule data to generate predictions that help workforce managers make informed decisions.

The back office doesn’t have to be the Wild West of contact center operations. Modern WFM solutions like NICE WFM can normalize two very different environments, so that the back office can be managed just as effectively as the front office. NICE WFM helps contact centers break the silos and optimize resources, no matter where they sit. Artificial intelligence, automated workflows, and intuitive interfaces make back and front office employees’ lives easier while minimizing costs, unlocking the potential of the workforce and harnessing the true power of an organization’s greatest asset—its people. Learn more about how NICE WFM is helping organizations wrangle the back office with comprehensive visibility into back-office employee activities, application usage, and performance at https://www.nice.com/solutions/optimize-back-office.