In my last post "3 Pillars of Workforce Management, Part 1" I addressed the important role of the Real-Time Analyst. This person knows the trends of your call center like no one else and is literally the eyes and ears of your center.
Today, I want to focus on the Forecaster - your small group of trend setters and number crunching gurus. Let's start with looking at this group's critical contribution to the center and conclude with tools that can help your Forecasters be even more effective.
In Webster’s Dictionary the definition of forecasting is to predict (a future condition or occurrence); calculate in advance. The Forecaster is the trend setter and number cruncher of the call center. They look at various statistics to determine possible staffing additions or reductions, training schedules and give input to determine call center service levels and goals.
Although normally the forecasting title is assigned to one or two people, this is a “group effort”. Your forecaster will depend on information from various departments such as Marketing, Training and Human Resources - whichever entity has input into call volume and your hiring processes.
In the days of old, forecasting within the call center was basically looking at inbound/outbound call volume and maybe some hiring recommendations. It was very reactive and not at all about being proactive.
Now-a-days whether your contact center entails payment processing, retail sales or marketing, there is a renewed appreciation for the central role that customer service plays; especially when addressing customers' questions and concerns. Contact center agents are on the front line of customer communication. Many executives now acknowledge this fact and have begun to reconsider making cuts in this area.
Forecasting is now in the forefront of every aspect within your contact center. It’s not just calls – it’s also digital interactions of all types: chats, emails and text messages. Companies are not only forecasting for the present but using the information for long-term planning. Where will your staffing be in the next 5 – 10 years? Will you utilize other multimedia services including video? If so, how does that affect your overall contact center staffing?
My mentor always reminds me that within contact centers, there is an art and science to everything. The art of forecasting normally comes from your experience within the call center, but the science is definitely within the tools that you use.
Interactive Intelligence offers great tools that allow you to plan for the future while keeping your present goals intact. Interaction Optimizer uses your historical data to predict your call arrival patterns in order to staff for breaks, lunches, meetings, training or any other off the phone activity and still maintain your service levels. You can easily adjust volume and average handle time.
Additionally, Interaction Decisions offers the long-term planning that many contact centers desire. I often describe it as “Excel on steroids” with just about every if/then scenario you can imagine.
Do you have the "science" for your contact center? If you'd like more information please contact us. We're here to help your Forecasters be successful!
Stay tuned - part 3 "The Research Specialist" will hit your inbox next month. To read part 1 "The Real-Time Analyst", click here.