7 Great Ways to Improve your Contact Center Forecasting

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Contact center managers have a tough task to accomplish. They need to handle agents, please stakeholders, and satisfy customers all at the same time with limited funds. In addition to these responsibilities, they’re also expected to prepare themselves for every issue their centers can face. There can be all sorts of business actions that may cause a spike in the number of customer queries. New product launches, price or feature upgrades, or consistent poor service are some of the reasons that can prompt customer queries. In this post, we discuss several Ways to Improve your Contact Center Forecasting that help managers control their future workload easily.

7 Critical Call Center Forecasting Methods

Control Shrinkage or Unproductive Time

Unproductive time is one of the most ignored metrics in the call center industry. Average shrinkage rates in call centers range from 30 to 35 percent. Most companies analyze this time by pulling out an average figure from the year. However, this single metric doesn’t give them the entire picture of how much time agents waste per week. The planner makes a huge mistake by not considering shrinkage as a seasonal occurrence. Using the average figure gives the impression of lower shrinkage. So, the managers may feel that they utilize their resources properly. This action ends up burdening the agents on duty during seasonal spikes. 

To control these risks, planners need to strike an honest conversation about their current staff levels. For example, planners can use forecasts to identify busy days and ask management to handle it properly. Then, the managers can brace themselves by providing extra training or unpaid vacations to avoid understaffing crises. On the flip side, if the management wants to use advisors for side projects, they should inform the planners in advance to prepare them for understaffing issues. In such circumstances, planners can offer over-time contingencies to balance workload.

Compare Service Levels and Staffing Costs

One of the most difficult aspects of managing a contact center is to continuously optimize the service levels and at the same time reduce staffing expenses. While these goals contradict each other most of the time, managers need to tackle both of them with sincerity. So, managers need to find ways to upgrade their client experience cost-effectively. Planning for the worst-case scenario can help a lot with such issues.

Use Blending Techniques

Most call centers use inbound and outbound schemes to boost productivity. Agents spend time on offline tasks like data entry, skip tracing, training, and other activities. To completely leverage Workforce Management (WFM) systems, managers should know how to forecast both the call and non-call work volume. After this prediction, they need to delegate the right agents to work on blended environments. Currently, 70 percent of the global call centers function in these environments. So, managers need to focus on taking the focus off the local and attend to the global. It’s easier to optimize service delivery and handle resources cost-effectively by using the blended environment approach instead of the traditional inbound-outbound activities. If you currently operate in the inbound and outbound paradigm, consider blending instead of hiring more workforce.

Empower Agents with the Right Tools

After the forecasting process completes, managers must consider being transparent with their agents about the schedule by providing them complete access. This access helps them stay on top of their game and be more productive in their duties. Further, they can perform mundane tasks like swapping shifts, requesting overtimes and leaves, updating their availability, and filling timesheets from the comfort of their home. 

Enabling your agents to complete these tasks at home helps managers increase the overall productivity of the workplace. Also, when they’re provided flexibility, employees tend to stay longer in the organization. In 2018, the average attrition rate in the call center support industry stands at 30 percent! With higher attrition, forecasting and scheduling become tougher for most planners. So, providing flexibility becomes even more critical.

Speaking of the right tools, managers need to look for WFM tools that use cloud services to handle data. Whether you opt for the on-premise version or remote option, investing in cloud tech is critical.

Use Multiple Forecasting Methods

With multiple forecasting algorithms, managers ensure that each forecast runs through different models to give the best path for a particular circumstance. By using multiple algorithms, they can recognize patterns and behavior changes without trying too hard. Contact center forecasting methods include:

  1. Triple exponential smoothening method
  2. Auto-regressive integrated moving average or ARIMA
  3. Neural network method
  4. Multiple Temporal Aggregation method

Analyze which forecasting methods suit you and use a good combination of them to improve call center management

Re-forecast Regularly

Dynamic and frequent forecasts, as frequent as every 15 minutes, are critical for call centers. These continuous projections help you correct the long-term picture and provide more accuracy by shifting demand/volume gradually. Easing adjustments in forecasts tweaks your resource management, schedules advisors, and shifts activities effortlessly. So, if you’re in the market for a forecasting solution, prefer the ones that offer frequent and automatic re-forecasting. Such software saves you money and efforts that you can redirect to scale swiftly. In the long-term, you’ll recover your investment and grow quickly.

Handle Non-call Work 

Managers usually underestimate the time agents spend on non-call work and special events like training and breaks. So, forecasting software that doesn’t include breaks and lunches won’t be as effective as you’d think. To create an optimized schedule, you need solutions that include these special events and allows users to be flexible with their breaks. With flexibility, planners can set shift profiles to accommodate every schedule change effortlessly.

These were few of the ways to improve your contact center forecasting

Conclusion

Running a contact center is not a joke! Call center managers need to juggle a lot of responsibilities simultaneously. So, they should look at software solutions that ease their jobs and make tracking agents’ work and schedule accordingly. To stay competitive in the market, planners need to ensure they satisfy their customers and ensure the best service by forecasting appropriately. With more than 20 years of experience as a leading Call Center Outsourcing company, Invensis Technologies enables you to delight your customers.

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