Is your organization’s contact center inefficient with their time? Or maybe your contact center often finds itself over or understaffed at different times of the day? Many organizations can relate to these situations and aren’t sure how to resolve these issues. One of the main reasons why organizations are seeing these occurrences in their contact centers is because they are manually forecasting their call volumes by exporting call data from their phone systems and using spreadsheets to manually crunch numbers in an effort to forecast future call volumes. workforce management (WFM) is the solution your organization needs to prevent inefficient forecasting and scheduling. In today’s blog post we will be focusing on forecasting in your contact center.
For starters, it’s important to understand that the foundation of a well-organized schedule comes from an accurate forecast of call volume. Without an accurate forecast the schedules produced are just guesses at best.
Research from SWPP says “Accuracy of forecasts is considered one of the top 3 most valuable capabilities for users of WFM systems.”
Forecasts are derived by historical call data where trends can be spotted. Day of the week factors, such as Monday versus Tuesday, are looked at to find specific patterns in call flow.
Analysts may ask themselves, “Are there more in the morning and less in the afternoon? Maybe there are spikes late in the evening just before the center closes.”
Secondly, long and short term planning are both crucial for contact centers. The more precise a forecast is to reality, the more efficiently a center can operate. Analysts can easily prepare for long term planning in their contact center by using a WFM system. For example, your business has been growing exponentially over the past year and expect the growth to continue. If you’re forecasting is accurate, you’re going to see that 3 months from now you’re going to need more staff. Analysts can begin planning and hiring more agents now so that your contact center isn’t understaffed down the road. For short term planning, analysts can create “what-if” scenarios (an example can be seen below) to review trends from historical call data. With all of this information a WFM user can begin to look long and short term to determine expected needs for staffing levels.
For instance, let’s say last year your company sent out an email about a promotion for a new product. When the email was sent out the calls to your contact center spiked. Forecasting tracks this trend and stores the data. A month later, you want to send out another promotional email but want to plan accordingly so you have just enough agents in the contact center. The what-if scenarios help you plan by looking at past historical data and trends to forecast what may happen during this similar scenario.
Lastly, the inclusion of seasonal factors is a key way to increase accuracy in a forecast. Algorithms specifically designed to analyze contact center data are able to spot trends month over month and quarter over quarter. This helps organizations better predict staffing levels around specific holidays, such as the holiday shopping season or back-to-school season. Analysts can review the historical call data to track the trends around this time of the year compared to previous years. Having this capability helps analysts and hiring managers determine the number of temporary agents needed for the season.
With WFM systems running on top-of-the-line data servers, the ability to conduct simulations of data is now possible. The increased accuracy once again yields better schedules for your contact centers. Utilizing a system that can automatically collect and store historical call volumes saves users time by no longer needing to export manual reports from system to system. This process is sometimes the only way that WFM analysts can get data from one system to another. When using spreadsheets and manual exports, human error comes into play and forecasts become less accurate. As a result, schedules become less accurate and contact centers are forced to manage on the fly to try to cover for poor initial planning.
inContact WFM removes the complexity from the challenge of forecasting and scheduling, allowing for effective contact center management. Now is the time to switch from spreadsheets to workforce management.