Planning for call volume in the contact center is one of the most daunting challenges facing any contact center manager. Improper forecasting can lead to under- or over-scheduling of agents, creating high stress and unnecessary costs. Customers are affected directly when volume exceeds capacity. In an environment where sales and loyalty can hang in the balance, effective contact center solutions empower managers to forecast and schedule accurately.
Considering the first priority, contact center managers need to examine the length of their plan. If it focuses on just a few months into the future, it can be difficult to readily identify peaks and valleys in the volume of calls. If the plan instead is 12 to 18 months into the future, trends are easily identified and addressed through economic measures that adhere to the strategy and not reactionary means.
The important point here is that this long-term planning is not completed with the use of C-based spreadsheets or Erlang, both of which are common and cumbersome. Managers should instead look to contact center solutions with simulation-based systems that allow for the factoring of the previous week’s real performance data. This approach will demonstrate that the predicted performance is the one achieved, creating confidence in the plan and the developed what-if analysis.
Finally, it’s important to remember that agent shrink, or the time spent away from the phone, is not consistent every week. This is a common misnomer and one that can easily contribute to inaccurate forecasts and capacity planning. In reality, shrink is seasonal and planning resources found in contact center solutions should account for the peaks and valleys for more accurate results.
Ultimately, contact center planning should be based on accurate data to ensure optimal performance. The costs associated with faulty capacity planning and error-prone analysis can quickly mount, hitting the bottom line in terms of wasted cost and increased customer churn. In an environment where customer care can make the different between a captured or lost sale, performance is everything.
For more information about making the best use of your contact center’s most critical resource, your agents, check out the informative whitepaper “Optimizing Agent Performance in a Real-time World.”
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