Contact-center efficiency is a hot topic in this era of tight budgets. An efficient operation can improve a company’s customer service while at the same time boosting its financial performance. To help enterprises achieve this goal, Blue Pumpkin plans to upgrade two aspects of its Workforce Optimization Suite — performance management and forecasting and scheduling — in the next six months.
Why are these two areas so important? The emerging performance-management sector is growing because of its ROI potential, Frost & Sullivan analyst Katrina Howell told CRM Buyer — and Blue Pumpkin is an early player in the space. “Performance management contributes to cost savings because agents represent the majority of contact-center expenses,” she said.
“Some contact centers still need to upgrade their forecasting and scheduling capabilities,” Howell added, noting that this sector has struggled less in the downturn than some others. “Users can recoup their investments in less than six months.”
The financial benefits of improving performance in these two areas are compelling, Yankee Group senior analyst Art Schoeller agreed. “If a company can forecast better, put better people on the job and improve [agent] utilization, you can make a financial case for the technology,” he told CRM Buyer.
Make Me a Match
Blue Pumpkin’s Workforce Optimization Suite focuses on long-range human resources planning, budgeting, employee scheduling, productivity assessment and payroll integration. The company’s forecasting and scheduling functionality focuses on matching employees with customers and channels, according to Steve Bernstein, senior product director at Blue Pumpkin.
“We want to make sure the right call-center agents are on the phone and aligned to company objectives,” he told CRM Buyer. “Skills-based scheduling ensures this. People are realizing the role agents play in customer satisfaction and revenue and profitability growth.”
Pricing and Functions
Specifically, the suite’s Director-Enterprise element includes skills-based forecasting, scheduling and reporting capabilities as well as Web-enabled self-service. Other Director-Enterprise modules include time-off management, agent adherence and multicontact forecasting and scheduling. Director Enterprise costs US$150,000 to $400,000 for a 500-seat center.
Another component of the system, Blue Pumpkin’s Advisor application — priced from $250 to $650 per employee — measures, tracks and reports individual performance and helps facilitate collaboration among managers and agents. The application helps automate and accelerate these processes with the goal of reducing costs, improving quality and increasing revenue and profitability.
Built on a J2EE platform, Blue Pumpkin’s applications integrate well with other systems, such as CRM, HR, ERP, telecommunications systems and data warehouses, according to the company.
Grappling with Growth
Blue Pumpkin’s stated aim is to help its customers manage growth — a goal that becomes more complicated as customers become larger, Bernstein said. The company concentrates on clients with between 100 and 400 seats and those with 400 or more seats. Its software is available in modules and is designed to scale well with the workload and size of the center, he added.
The six-year-old company has 1,000 customers worldwide, according to Tiffany Riley, vice president of marketing at Blue Pumpkin.
Because of the market’s promise, it has attracted other contenders, too. Blue Pumpkin’s competition includes Performix in the performance-management arena and Aspect Communications, Genesis Labs, IEX and Symon in forecasting and scheduling, Howell said.