SWPP Annual Conference Wrap-up

SWPP member Tiffany LaReau of Human Numbers wrote a blog about her experience at the SWPP Annual Conference a few weeks ago in Nashville. It was such a great piece that we wanted to share it. If you weren’t able to join us for the conference, Tiffany gives you a flavor of what you missed.

SWPP conference in Nashville, Tennessee — over 400 people are here! This is a new venue for SWPP. It’s been held at Opryland Hotel for as long as I remember, but I’m really digging the Omni. It shares the same building as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the place is gorgeous.

Keynote — Joe Calloway, motivating us to be the best at what matters most. Keynotes are always entertaining, and this one did not disappoint. Funniest thing I heard: “When I was looking for a job, I wasn’t looking for work.”

I’ve already seen a dozen friends here and can’t wait to make new ones. I only work on forecasting and scheduling, and this is the conference where I feel like I’m actually with all my own people. 🙂

Vendor booths and loot: The Call Center School gave everyone a free copy of their book, The Power of One, in our attendee bag, a great little paperback to share with an agent back home about the individual’s contribution to their center.

The first session I went to was a case study for building a  performance-based call center culture by Dan Rickwalder — a detailed step-by-step path of how they built the whole thing from the ground up, including the hardships, and the successes. So far this has been my favorite session. I’m glad I got there early, it was SRO.

The breaks are getting very fancy these days; we thought we were in a Willy Wonka factory!

One more afternoon session on staffing strategies. Both of the sessions today, and even the keynote, have all been really interactive.

Went up to the room for a quick check-in and had a surprise goody bag from Interactive Intelligence waiting for me! Moon pies, Jack Daniels (this is Nashville after all), a bag of peanuts, and Music City souvenirs. Come to think of it,  Interactive Intelligence has done this before, and they always have the best gift bags. On my way back down to the Opening Reception, aka happy hour. These conferences are so fun.

Day 2 of the SWPP Annual Conference! There was a session on how to get through to your WFM trainee by Marshall Lee. He went over the theories associated with how people learn and the differences on now adults and children learn, and the different learning channels. Seeing, hearing, talking, writing, doing, and where they fall in the Blooms Taxonomy of Learning. I’ve never really considered this stuff before now. Due to the way adults learn, always state an objective and explain why this is important to them. Then he actually covered his agenda of what  he goes through when training a WFM person. Excellent class!

My own sessions, Secrets of a Power-Forecaster, and Advanced Secrets of a Power-Forecaster were up next. The first session was pretty awkward — being a power forecaster does not mean I’m a power speaker, but the second session went much better. Now I can relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.

Lara Whisenhunt from Cox is getting ready to go to centralized WFM at her center, and she told me about a session she was sitting in on where they said they let every agent choose their  own shift. Wow, and how!?

Hot WFM topics this year:

How does everyone gather OT from the front line? One site used an actual book (an actual physical book, with pages, and paper). One site used Facebook and Twitter.

Survey twice for doing shift bids. Survey once to see what people want, then use that to guide shift templates before the actual bid. This was my favorite take-away — thank you Marshall!

What functions of intra-day are best suited to a COE center of excellence? Answer: If you want to be a traffic cop, that’s fine. I’m the helicopter.

This idea makes sense: Put the RTA screen up on a giant TV in the call center and peer pressure will take care of the rest.

One call center said when their agents get two write-ups from WFM on adherence, it’s termination; if an elementary school kid can handle being on time, a paid agent should be able to do it also (yeah!). Then I heard another center say they immediately terminate if agent gets caught hanging up on a customer. Their attrition rates must be off the charts.

What is a good strategy for turning around a poor perception of WFM system? How do I combat Big Brother? Packaging and messaging. Big Brother is a good thing to have when you’re getting bullied. Change the lingo. Instead of workforce managers become resource planners, and vice versa.

Is anyone using anything besides Service Level these days? Answer: Accreditation mandates ASA sometimes. Abandonment rate seems to be predominant. Expected wait time used as a message on the IVR. But the next big transition is this new metric — Schedule Index. There’s no discussion about ASA nor SL with Schedule Index. I’ll have to check that out further.

Do you use social media to  communicate with front line agents? Yes, Twitter, and yes, there are problems from HR. A closed group in Facebook and text messages were used also. Then one center said if the agent’s quality score and handle time are good they can go anywhere on the internet. But if their score is 4 or lower, they get filtered on what internet sites they can visit. Now that’s motivation.
Networking is so easy here, because every single person I see and talk to is already a workforce manager, wants to be a workforce manager, or wants to talk to a workforce manager.  There’s something very wonderful about sitting down next to a group of complete strangers at lunch and picking up a quick conversation about innovations in flex schedules. And a group outing at BB King’s always helps to break the ice as well!

I also really enjoyed the service project in the common area; anyone in the mood could grab a seat, pick up some scissors, and cut out a blanket. We actually ended up making 50 blankets for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. I’m going home knowing I helped out a good cause, feeling rejuvenated and smarter, and having added some new friends.

Signing out, and see you next year! Tiffany LaReau

Tiffany can be reached at tiffany@humannumbers.com.