One my favorite Yogi Berra quotes came to mind the other day while reading a white paper on the importance of good planning in the contact center. “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.”
Accurately predicting future resource requirements is very difficult in the contact center because of the impact of seasonality and other complex factors. It’s difficult, yes, but that doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and give up. Many people in the industry view workforce management (WFM) as the primary tool for predicting the future. That’s partially true. WFM does a good job of predicting contact volumes and accurately matching schedules, but over a time frame of a few weeks. That’s too short for sound resource planning.
The white paper I read from Bay Bridge Decision Technologies points out this shortcoming in a clear, intuitive way. WFM systems focus on making the best use of the agents you already have, as opposed to figuring out how many agents you really need. That’s not to say that WFM isn’t important. It is, very much so, but the white paper has an interest take here. WFM systems can be even more valuable when an organization has a good plan for hiring, training and staffing the required number of agents.
Companies spend a great deal of time and effort working to develop strategic staffing plans. A major problem is that the technology used, in most cases spreadsheets, just isn’t up to the complexities of the task. The paper draws an interesting parallel to illustrate this. Just as WFM produced better and quicker results than spreadsheet based forecasting and scheduling systems, new strategic planning technologies are available that greatly improve the results over planning spreadsheets.
The author outlines three common areas where relying on spreadsheet technology for strategic resource planning results in hidden contact center costs:
Flat-lining shrinkage – many organizations assume in their plans that all controllable shrinkage items (e.g. sick time) are constant throughout the year. This is not true and doing so builds inefficiencies into the plan that can be avoided.
Assuming different centers behave similarly – different centers have different handle times, shrinkage patterns, employee attrition, etc. Assuming these are constant across all centers simplifies the process, but ignores the realities that some centers are probably more efficient than others.
Avoiding too many what-ifs – if it takes too long to evaluate a single what-if question less of them will be looked at. Some questions may even be impossible to evaluate using spreadsheet technology. More what-if analysis equals better plans.
Download the full paper, Finding Costs Hidden in Your Contact Center Plans, to learn more about new planning technologies and how they offer increased value to your business over spreadsheets.