Intraday Management UWEBC 2017 .pdf

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Customer Service

Best Practices

Intraday Management at Northwestern Mutual

Jeremy Lewandowski shared Northwestern Mutual’s command center’s
intraday management routine and the business outcomes that they drive.

Daily Activities:

Northwestern Mutual’s command center’s daily activities include:
• Morning huddles. Managers of the operation and the command center
meet each morning to prepare for the upcoming day, discuss yesterday’s
results and look at what the outlook for the day is.
• Proactive alerts to leadership. By using a real-time adherence tool, the
command center watches at a bird’s-eye view so that leaders can focus
on other tasks. The command center is able to see what agents across
all centers are doing and inform the agent’s leadership team if an agent
reaches a predetermined threshold for instances such as time away from
their desk, long phone calls or hold times. Once alerted, the leadership team
decides what action they would like to take or not.
• Proactive schedule smoothing. When schedule changes arise, such as
people calling in sick, website crashes or call-log back-up, the command
center is already in the scheduling software and can make the necessary
changes to still meet daily goals.
• Schedule optimization. When there are requests to add meetings to the
schedule or there is existing backlog, the command center can be proactive
and plan out days in advance by smoothing schedules along the way
instead of being reactive the day of.
• Monitor queue performance. The command center also watches how
each work group in all queues are performing across all centers. This
includes monitoring staffing within queues to make sure there are no gaps
that require pulling resources. If high call volume or system issues arise,
the command center can activate per-queue messaging to notify callers of
potential delays.
• Monitor variance to forecast. The command center monitors the forecast
and lets leadership know when a forecast needs to be adjusted and change
their plan for the upcoming day. They also work to make adjustments to the
rest of the week based on the changes in the forecast.
• Pulling levers to hit service level and cycle time goals. The command
center is constantly moving agents in and out, work overtime or sending
them home early in order to meet service level and cycle time goals on a
regular basis.
• Ad hoc questions and reporting. The command center is the central
hub for call center operations information. Therefore, the command
center answers questions and provides reports daily to assist agents and
leadership when issues arise.

“Northwestern Mutual
is unique in their
process of looking
at the percentage
of intervals hitting
service level goals.
This is not a common
practice and an
innovative idea
that I believe other
member companies
would find useful to
implement as well.”
For more information:
Watch the


or contact Roger Paulson,
UWEBC Managing Practice
Director and Customer
Service Practice Director

Business Outcomes:

Business outcomes that the command center is driving on behalf of the businesses they support as a shared
service include:
• Consistently hit service level. The command center monitors not only if they are hitting the service level
goals but also what the service level consistency is, a metric that Northwestern Mutual has developed
over the last few years. This metric does not look at one number at the end of the day but how consistent
customer service representatives are throughout the day at hitting the service level. The command center
looks at how many intervals throughout the day they are hitting the service level goal. This ensures the
experience is consistent throughout the day for both employees and clients.
• Customer service representative occupancy. The command center monitors how busy the customer
service representatives are when logged onto the phone with the goal of hitting the sweet-spot of 8090 percent occupancy. The command center works to find the balance of hitting the service level while
maintaining a proper occupancy that keeps representatives busy without burning them out .
• Back office cycle time goals met. Northwestern Mutual representatives also have back office work as a
break from calls. This also gives the company burst capacity when it’s needed. If there is a spike in calls in
the queue, they can pull staff in that were processing transactions. The command center works to make
sure there is a balance between processing cases and taking new calls in order to prevent status calls.
• Process improvement. The command center is uniquely positioned to see opportunities to improve
business and provide recommendations to leadership for better planning, execution and overall operations
of the company. Based on these suggestions, leadership can make the necessary changes in order to
continue to hit service goals.

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