Getting Out of the Bubble: WFMers Network, Dance and Give Back at the SWPP Conference

 Workforce management planning is one of the toughest jobs in the contact center.

Not only are these teams charged with staffing the floor with the exact number of agents, at the exact right time, for every half hour of the day, but many of the factors contributing to their success are out of their control.

And when the numbers are off, it can mean big bucks to a contact center’s bottom line. Under-staff and customers are left waiting in queue with agents who are frustrated and overworked. At the same time, overstaffing is expensive and creates unrealistic customer expectations.

The result is unhappy agents and unhappy customers.

No one understands these unique challenges as well as other workforce management planning professionals. That’s why the annual Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) Summit for Workforce Management Excellence is so popular. It gives the workforce planning community a rare chance to network with their peers.

This year’s conference, the twelfth of its kind, was held April 15-17th at the new Omni Nashville Hotel. More than 400 workforce management professionals attended, and about half of those were there for the first time.

“Everyone is always excited to get here and see that this conference is tailored specifically to workforce management planners,” said Vicki Herrell, SWPP’s executive director. “They are eager to meet other people who do what they do and understand their challenges.”

Attendees of this year’s conference benefited from breakout sessions about industry trends and hot topics, how to improve their workforce management skills, and the latest technology aimed to make their jobs easier.

But arguably the biggest benefit is the networking.

“Workforce managers tend to work in a bubble. They see things in their own centers and how things work, but don’t have a lot of opportunities to network with people in other centers who may do things a little differently and could totally change their world,” said Herrell.

In addition to the keynotes, sessions and fun networking events – one at B.B. King’s Blues Club that included live music and dancing – for the first time, the conference included a service project. During downtimes, attendees assembled 50 fleece blankets to donate to the Tennessee Department of Children Services.

In addition to helping bring comfort to kids who have been removed from their homes, the experience turned out to be a great networking opportunity as well.

“Assembling the blankets put a lot of people together who might not otherwise have met and got them talking,” said Herrell. “Other people in a call center don’t really understand what these professionals do and how hard their job is. One attendee came up to me and said she had the most amazing time. She told me, I finally feel like I fit in. These are my people!”

You can see photos from this year’s event on the SWPP Facebook page. Next year’s event is scheduled for March 2-4, 2015, again in Nashville.

 

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Sierra Jones

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