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Customer Engagement

When Elite Plumbers Wished They Had Workforce Management

iStock-487018460_working plumber_resized.pngImagine that it was a cold and snowy night...

And starting at 6:30 a.m., the phones at “Elite Plumbers” begin ringing off the hook. Two brothers, Joseph and Henry Pendleton, started Elite Plumbers with the vision of delivering concierge-level plumbing service to serve upscale neighborhoods.

Both had worked as plumbers for many years. They had heard all the complaints about tardy arrivals, delays from lack of the right parts, unkempt appearances, and messes left behind. They reasoned that homeowners would pay a premium for professional and reliable plumbing support.

Joseph and Henry chose the name Elite Plumbers and handpicked each employee based on experience, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. Their pay scale was substantially above the going rate. Field personnel were backed with an equally professional call center. Their telephone “concierges” were extremely polite and helped callers with simple fixes. They also served as the communication hub for Elite’s plumbers in the field.

The concept worked so well that Joseph and Henry decided to expand from their base in a cold northern state to the fast-growing Southeast. They picked an affluent southern community and quickly attracted hundreds of customers, many of whom lived in elegant but aging homes. Exposed pipes were rarely insulated and water heaters were in unheated basements and garages.

Whenever a deep freeze occurred and the water stopped flowing, customers panicked. Not understanding the impact of freezing weather in the South, the call center was not staffed adequately and was unable to handle these surges. The entire office staff was frantically trying to round up more plumbers and concierges to handle the extra demand.

Some customers are willing to cut Elite Plumbers some slack in a case like this, but the incident caused the owners and their top supervisors to rethink the way they scheduled employees. Since the company’s formation, all employees had worked standard shifts. This meant there were times when employees had little to do, and times when they could not meet guaranteed service levels.

So, to address this issue, Elite Plumbers decided to invest in an advanced workforce management (WFM) system. All agreed that the system needed to be able to accommodate today’s customer needs as well as future growth plans.

Elite Plumbers selected an enterprise-class workforce management system that could create schedules that achieved targeted service levels, accommodate both telephone and field personnel, consider multiple factors (including weather forecasts) when creating forecasts and schedules, handle text messaging, and empower employees to initiate schedule change requests on their own.

Furthermore, they selected a cloud deployment option, as this provided the flexibility and scalability needed, while at the same time conserving capital for expansion plans. Workforce management software is thought by some to be a solution required only by the very largest contact centers.

In fact, WFM is highly desirable—and in some cases essential—for contact centers with as few as 50 agents. Smaller businesses need to provide superior, not comparable, customer service to compete with larger competitors that have more flexibility in pricing and can deliver a broader variety of products and services.  And best of all, workforce management is an exceptional financial investment, as labor savings from more intelligent scheduling can quickly offset the initial investment.


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