Ferguson Enterprises is a diverse wholesale distributor with operations spanning multiple business groups, including plumbing supplies, pipe, valves and fittings, and heating and cooling equipment. Founded in 1953 and acquired by Wolseley plc in 1982, the company has experienced rapid growth and continues its aggressive expansion into the industrial, heating and cooling and waterworks markets. Today, Ferguson Enterprises employs approximately 18,000 associates who service customers coast-to-coast, with a distribution network spanning approximately 1,300 locations, and serves customers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Mexico.
Ferguson Enterprises has three contact centers across the United States and Canada running on the Cisco UCCX platform: Newport News (Virginia), Calgary (Alberta), and Montreal (Quebec). While the call centers currently employ approximately 100 agents, including six team supervisors and six team leads, the company is expanding its contact center services.
Ferguson Enterprises uses the NICE IEX Workforce Management (WFM) software to generate call volume forecasts based on historical telephone system data, and from those forecasts, determine the agent loading requirements and associated schedules. During shifts, supervisors use the real-time data available within the WFM to assess agent adherence.
TASKE integrates with the IEX WFM software to provide a steady and accurate stream of real‑time data from the telephone system. Because Cisco UCCX does not communicate directly with the IEX WFM software, TASKE provides a bridge between the two systems, collecting the CTI data from Cisco UCCX, and then translating and delivering that data to the WFM software.
Reliable Source of Real-Time and Historical Data Required for NICE IEX Workforce Management
Prior to TASKE, Ferguson Enterprises had used another vendor’s middleware solution. The service was unreliable and would stop collecting data frequently. This interruption meant that real-time data was not available to supervisors to monitor agent adherence for that period of time.
As well, because sporadic data is unusable for forecasting and scheduling, the IT administrator had to manually recapture information that was lost. The administrator had to run reports for every agent to determine what they were doing during the missing time period to ensure that agents were being properly credited for schedule adherence, call handling, and so on. Reassembling the data was time‑consuming and frustrating.
Although the company regularly contacted the vendor for assistance, the support offered was inadequate and never resolved the problem. When the company moved to Cisco UCCX 8.5, they decided to take the opportunity to look for a different middleware solution.
TASKE Provides Consistent and Reliable Data
TASKE was recommended by NICE as the only endorsed middleware vendor for integration with IEX WFM software.
Cara Proctor, Process Architect / Reporting Services, explained that the contact center management team uses all aspects of the IEX WFM, including forecasting call volumes based on historical data, scheduling agents for shifts, and monitoring real-time agent adherence (RTA). In all aspects, TASKE provides consistent and reliable data from the telephone system to the WFM.
For example, real-time data is critical for monitoring RTA. At the Ferguson Enterprises’ contact centers, team leads keep the RTA information on their computer screens at all times to ensure that agents on shift are using their time appropriately given current call volumes. For example, if too many agents take a break at the same time, call volumes can spike. RTA monitoring means that supervisors can get a number of agents back answering calls before call wait times become too long.
Proctor says that teams also rely on the accuracy of the historical data provided by TASKE. This data is key to staffing shifts appropriately, which is important given that labor generally represents 80% of a contact center’s costs. Proctor indicates that supervisors often review past call patterns and adjust the number of agents assigned to shifts, ensuring that the right number of agents are available based on predicted call volumes.
Forecasting call volumes based on accurate historical data means that shifts have the right number of agents to keep call wait times low, which contributes to customer satisfaction. At the same time, shifts aren’t overstaffed, which increases already high labor costs. Similarly, accurate real-time data is critical when monitoring agent adherence to ensure that current activity in the contact center is appropriate given current call volumes.
Ferguson Enterprises regularly re-evaluates their IT infrastructure to keep up with new features and services. Proctor is pleased with the ease of the initial TASKE installation and how it easily transitions with other changes to the IT environment.
Over the past several years, the company has changed telephone system platforms and upgraded the IEX WFM software. In each case, says Proctor, “I called TASKE to confirm that their software would work with the new software and it has transitioned smoothly, easily, and without fail every time.”