Call Center Management Feature Article
February 20, 2013
What You Put into Call Center Forecasting Affects What You Get Out of It
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
While many call center organizations use call forecasting software to help them plan their day, week or month, forecasting software isn’t magic: it requires a number of human factors to get right. Your forecasting tool can use historical and real-time data to make predictions, but it can’t read your mind, it can’t foresee your future needs, and it doesn’t know what your business plan looks like.
For this reason, even the most cutting-edge forecasting tools are only as good as the humans who use them. Smart call centers understand how to best use their workforce management and forecasting tools to get the best success possible from them. A recent blog post by workforce optimization company Monet Software offers some helpful tips for success in call center forecasting:
Make use of historical data. Not only is it important to use historical data to help predict what will happen in the future, it’s important that you use enough historical data, writes Monet. Several weeks of data is usually sufficient as a starting point, but longer-term projections would require months or years of data, especially for seasonal or annual projections.
Simulations can help. Instead of waiting for scenarios to occur, some cutting-edge forecasting tools allow you to model. Staffing and service levels can be analyzed ahead of time by creating a what-if scenario, says Monet. This can yield intelligence about the best way to handle a situation before it even happens.
Review past events. Every company has special events each year, whether good or bad: new product debuts, holiday seasons, storms that affect staffing. By examining the historical data from these special circumstances, companies can plan better for how they will handle similar scenarios in the future.
Be sure to use real-time data. Forecasting solutions of yesteryear allowed companies to understand what they had done wrong in the past, but they didn’t help them understand what they were doing wrong in a real-time moment (when factors can be adjusted to improve operations). Real-time analysis of individual calls and calls handled within an hour, a day, etc. can lead to adjustments on the fly and more accurate forecasting in the days and weeks to come, writes Monet.
Include channels other than voice. Let’s face it: forecasting was a lot easier when all you had to worry about was phone calls. In today’s multimedia environment, there is more than one way to damage a customer relationship. For this reason, it’s critical to include channels such as e-mail, Web and social media into forecasts. It makes life more complex, but failing on this score can make business and customer retention a lot worse.
To learn more, watch one of Monet Software’s forecasting and scheduling videos here.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli