Focus on Contact Center Capacity Planning for the New Year
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.
The effects of scheduling directly impact the bottom line. Consider the example of 100 callers out of 1,000 hanging up before they reach a live agent. If the call center environment is one where the connection results in the average sale of $50, the loss per day reaches $5,000. Exponentially, the cost would be $150,000 per month or $1.8 million per year. Such potential losses highlight the need for an effective approach to capacity planning.
A recent Interactive Intelligence blog examined this phenomenon, highlighting the potential cost associated with inaccurate forecasting and capacity planning. Author Ric Kosiba stressed the importance of planning not just for anticipated call volume, but also for agent attrition, agent sick time, training and coaching sessions, the average time to handle a call and more. With so many elements involved, planning through manual processes could waste considerable time and allow for too much human error.
Three priorities for proper capacity planning and anlysis
To properly approach capacity planning and analysis, contact center solutions need to allow for three priorities:
- Making the long-term plan long enough
- Validating the planning process to ensure accuracy
- Employing a forecasting technique to account for shrinkage and assume the shrink is seasonal
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.”
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Peter Bernstein