When it comes to operational success in a contact center, it all comes down to call center planning. It’s imperative for contact center managers to have accurate volume estimations in order to mitigate staffing costs, maximize agent retention, and optimize customer satisfaction (CSAT). Forecasting to meet demand and predict volume correctly can be tricky, especially in a contact center environment. You need to balance business needs and seasonal peaks against employee skills and availability, coordinating with product and marketing teams – all while ensuring your customers receive the level of service they deserve.
Ordinarily this is where we would go on and on about workforce management (WFM) capabilities and how it optimizes your workforce no matter the location or the logistics, or simply matching your best staff to the most valuable revenue streams. While all of that is true, the real reason forecasting gets better is because of you.
If you ran forecasting models a year ago to predict the needs and the requirements for 2023, all insights and models would indicate that customers would continue to prefer self-service to agent assisted service, that robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) would push better interactions and drive the continuing trend toward more automated self-service; and only the more complex tasks and issues would route to live agents. And if you bet your business on it, you would have lost. Yet, we know that very few shift planners and WFM experts made that mistake. Why?
The answer is quite simple. Data.
We’ve talked about real time optimization (RTO) before, but it bears repeating just how revolutionary this capability can be. The ability to execute and align a CX strategy with metrics, administration, and the actual customer journey in real time has the power to neutralize any forecasting errors you might make. A platform that can cull real-time data, help decisions about workforce staffing and allocate resources immediately maximizes call center efficiency and deliver the highest level of customer service in an instant is worthwhile for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it allows for development of less experienced forecasters to learn as they go; RTO also helps the seasoned analysts continually improve by fine tuning their instincts while adding more input data.
Forecasting is the very definition of “work in progress.” Data and its subsequent analysis won’t slow down anytime soon; new tools and techniques allow us to leverage the power of our numbers and fill in the gaps in our understanding of them. Adding self-service, digital multichannel, remote and hybrid teams into the equation creates a myriad of opportunities and challenges. With so many variables, it’s a wonder we forecast at all. But with the proper technology and training, we can ensure our industry continues to grow while we get better. Much better.