Picture this: there’s a sudden spike in call volume, but you don’t have enough agents to handle it. Wait times increase and customers become dissatisfied. You get on top of the problem as quickly as possible and scale your workforce up to handle the demand. Soon, call volume evens out again, and now you’re over-staffed and draining your budget.
Improving forecast accuracy can limit these scenarios. Data, history and experience, combined with your own judgement and common sense, make forecasting much more accurate and predictable. A quality system will combine historic data with real-time data for accurate forecasting.
Here’s how to improve your forecasting:
- Choose quality forecasting software.
Your forecasting software should gather historical data from the past two years to show you daily, monthly and seasonal patterns and trends. It should then monitor performance, document results, and continue to measure and evaluate data on a recurring schedule. Most importantly, your software should repeat this process – the repetition is what makes the forecasting so accurate and dependable.
- Look at both data overviews and specific segments.
Look at historical data, which will give you an overview of NCO and handle time. Also view data in hour, day and month formats. Continue to break data down to view it differently – turn monthly forecasts into daily forecasts, daily into hourly, and hourly into half hour views.
- Compare one month to the same month last year.
Point estimates are too simplistic an approach when it comes to contact center forecasting. A point in the future won’t necessarily match the same point in the past, even if it’s the same hour, day and month of the year. You have to look closely to determine if any data is out of the ordinary, and a good start is to compare this year’s month to last year’s month (i.e. January 2018 to January 2017).
- Don’t ignore aberrations.
Investigate data that’s exceptionally high or low to figure out if it was caused by a one-off event or if you should be prepared for a regular occurrence. Situations that affect call volume include:
- Billing cycles
- Business mergers
- Change in hours of operation
- Competitor activity
- Marketing campaigns
- New technology implementation
- Planned maintenance sessions
- Weather and natural disasters
Balance customer demand with staffing numbers to keep costs low while managing wait times and ensuring customers satisfaction.