Better Call Center Management Means More Cost Savings
There’s a reason companies have often approached the idea of running a contact center with dread. The average contact center is expensive and complex to run, and companies often don’t see the kind of immediate and tangible financial results they might hope from such a large organization. Customer goodwill isn’t the kind of thing that can be accounted for on a balance sheet.
Contact centers are expensive to run largely because they are so labor-intensive. Out of every dollar spent in call center costs, it’s estimated that about 75 cents is related to labor. This isn’t simply paying salaries for work done. It’s about recruiting, hiring and training a high turnover workforce. It’s also about wasted manpower during times of slow call traffic.
As businesses cruise into the seventh year of financial uncertainty since this recession began, they have picked all the low-hanging fruit when it comes to cost-cutting. They have cut employee levels down to the bare bones. They have given up well-meaning but expensive employee enrichment programs. They have raised the premiums and co-pays on their employer-provided health insurance. They have restructured and consolidated. At this point, they are finding that any further cuts would negatively affect the business (if they aren’t doing so already). Smarter companies are finding more costs savings, however, by boosting efficiency and decreasing waste.
In the contact center, this means building water-tight schedules that are as accurate as possible in order to make the most of the labor resources they have. They do this, in part, by ensuring that they are scheduling using historical data analyzed not by humans but by a modern workforce management solution, according to a recent blog post by Monet Software CEO Chuck Ciarlo.
“The most accurate and reliable guide to staffing, as anyone who studies workforce management can tell you, is to look back at past performance and call center history,” wrote Ciarlo. “Review the reports generated by the automatic call distributor for data on average handle time, number of incoming calls and other key performance indicators.”
Once this is done, the contact center can move on to creating a forecast. There are three methods typically employed by call centers to translate historical data into a staffing forecast, according to Ciarlo: point estimates, averaging and time series analysis. Managers can then effectively use the call volume forecast numbers and factor them into workload predictions, with workload being the number derived from multiplying the amount of forecasted calls and the average call handle time.
But these numbers won’t be precise, of course. Forecasting is about seeing the future, and no one can do that effectively. For a workforce management solution to truly help a contact center find efficiencies, it must be adjustable throughout the day.
“There is no way to know if a plan is going to work until it is executed,” writes Ciarlo. “Even with the preparations and calculations already described, staff schedules will likely still have to be adjusted every day.”
Edited by Stefania Viscusi