The operational planning process evolved to solve the core inbound contact center business question: given the seasonality of call volumes, the seasonality of agent attrition, the seasonality of agent sick time, vacation requests, and other shrinkage items, the seasonality of handle times, given that all of these items are different by center location and type of staff required, and given learning curves, training times, and other important and complicating characteristics, how does the organization manage the workforce, week over week, so the exact number of agents are available to work as the customer demand requires.
There are many levers available to management to move their agent resources toward a more efficient plan. Center executives can plan for hiring, terminations, seasonal employees, and outsourced employees. They can plan for downtime to be filled with training, vacation, loans to other groups, and undertime (sending agents home early). They can fill staff shortages with overtime, temp agents, outsourcing, and the cancelling of off-phone activities. They can plan for handle times to be proactively shortened when understaffed or they can allow cross sales to be offered when overstaffed.
When the complexities of a multi-site, multi-skill, and multi-channel operation are overlaid onto the business problem, the quest for more efficiency is even more difficult; there is just so much to consider.
Optimally solving this problem is critically important. It is in these strategic business decisions that the most significant contact center costs are contained or the value is wasted. The major functions of contact center strategic planning include: Making Prediction, Managing and taming seasonality, Managing operational change, Monitoring the operation, Providing Analysis.
A new Bay Bridge Decision Technologies white paper discusses theHidden Inefficiencies in Contact Centers Due to the Planning Process