Forecasting is the proverbial mix of art and science. It begins with predicting how many transactions you are going to get in the future. To do that, you look at historical data to determine patterns that reflect when customers contact, and consider possible trends that will effect these patterns of contacting a customer service. Next, we factor the handling times of these transactions. Finally, you modify results based on conditions not reflected in historical data.
In most contact centre operations, long term forecasts look out a year and beyond. We use them to estimate future annual budgets, establish hiring plans and define future system needs.
The short term forecast predict workloads up to three(3) months. They are important for organizing and adjusting schedule requirements, anticipating seasonal staffing needs, planning for holidays, and determine imminent hiring requirements.
Weekly, daily, and intra-day forecasts are called short term tactical forecast and are used to tighten up schedules and adjust priorities around current conditions and near term events.
Five Key Activities
The basic historical data you need for forecasting includes how many inbound transactions you have received in the past, when they arrived and how long they took to handle. Five key terms reflect this activity:
Talk time: everything from the beginning to the end of the call, and in between. Also ATT (Average Talk Time).
After call work (ACW) or Wrap-up time: time that is needed to log a transaction or to log data into a customer information system.
Average Handling Time (AHT): average talk time + after call work.
Call Load: the volume of transactions coupled with how long they last. volume multiplied by average handling time.
Abandoned calls and busy signals: customers that hang up after a period of time before talking to a CSR are registered as abandoned calls. When a customer is getting a busy signal, it means all lines are busy and the IVR is overloading.
If the historical data used to forecast ignores ones of the above activities, it will be underestimating demand.
Just remember, the forecast should always reflect "offered" transactions. In other words, offered transactions are all of the attempts your customers make to reach you. We have several possibilities, such as answered by a CSR, answered by the system (IVR) but hang up before reaching a CSR, or they get a busy signal.
A contact center often brings about a prospect’s first real-time interaction with your company. As such, if it’s not a positive one, they’ll likely look elsewhere for help. With 69% of Americans more inclined to recommend a company to friends and family after a positive customer service experience, you’ll need to exceed expectations on the following fronts. more
There’s a very good chance that your contact center is underperforming. With consumer preferences continuously changing, strategies that were once effective now result in too many unsatisfied customers. Fixing this problem involves reviewing your current procedures and optimizing them to drive better results. more
Do you know that 40% of contact centers have no data analysis tools, despite analytics being voted the top factor to change the shape of the industry within the next five years? This guide will outline the importance of call center analytics, and explore the many ways that analytics can help you improve your call center on every level. more
Technology is always improving to meet the needs and expectations of businesses and customers alike. To make sure you’re providing the service your customers require and deserve, it’s vital to use up-to-date software solutions that fully support your customer service needs and company expansion goals. more
Customer loyalty is essential to the long-term health of any business, whether B2B or B2C. Oftentimes, the factors that contribute to customer loyalty are intangible ones related to the quality of customer experience. more