9 Tips for a More Accurate Call Center Forecast

Mary Lou JosephAugust 7, 2018

This is the last in a blog series based on two, rapid fire, 60 ideas in 60 minutes sessions for tips and techniques in workforce management held at the Society for Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) Annual Conference. The first was, Three Tips to be Proactive vs. Reactive in Scheduling Your Contact Center, the second was Five Tips to Make Your WFM Team More Effective.

Now I’ll share some tips on how to make your contact center forecasts more accurate.

  1. Continually review and update inputs, especially shrinkage. You should continually assess the inputs into your forecast for accuracy and relevance. For example, using the same shrinkage calculations you used three months ago may not work for the next scheduling period.
  2. Know your concept. Similar to reviewing the inputs, review your underlying assumptions and algorithms to help ensure they still align with the changing needs of your business.
  3. Understand what the outputs are telling you. What does a 1-minute average handle time cost your business? What does one extra call handled cost or generate? Know the financial impacts of your KPIs and how to communicate the impact of changes on these to the various stakeholders.
  4. Continually analyze incoming events and trends. Are fewer calls coming into the contact center due to self-service? Are more steps being automated, speeding up handle times? Has speech analytics identified opportunities to improve processes that will impact the forecast?
  5. Know your data. You should be able to analyze the day-to-day reports and mark special events in your forecasting model. This way you can look back and understand why anomalies occurred and be better prepared for similar occurrences in the future.
  6. Hire the right skill set. Forecasting is a numbers game. Hire an analyst for the position with a finance or accounting background. In the words of one customer, “not a people person or admin, but an analyst.” Another customer shared that they recently hired a data specialist on their WFM team to support forecasting.
  7. Periodically validate your data collection. New queues are being added, work being re-routed, etc.; make sure your source data mapping is still operational and encompassing of all data sources.
  8. Invest in vendor training. A repeat from the Five Tips to Make Your WFM Team More Effective is worth repeating here: Proper training helps ensure you are using the solution effectively and to its fullest potential.
  9. Don’t forget about the call-back feature. Implementing the callback feature on your ACD to help improve the customer experience will help decrease service levels and move more work for later time slots or shifts. You need to evaluate your forecasts to make sure you are properly forecasting those volumes at the later time.

Well that’s it—three posts with tips and tricks to help improve proactive scheduling, WFM team member effectiveness, and forecasting accuracy. Thanks to the SWPP for a great event—I hope to see you there next year!