Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Call Center Management New Year Resolutions

As you work on implementing new plans and strategies to further improve call center management and operations for 2012, it might be a good idea to reflect on 2011: What has worked well, and what has worked not so well? Here are a few questions to consider:
  • What were the top 3 call center challenges in 2011?
  • How can you overcome those challenges for 2012?
  • What do you need to do to keep our agents happy and motivated?
  • What do you have to do to better serve your customer?
  • What new technologies and call center software do you need to make your work easier and more efficient?
  • Do you have online sources that provide you with practical tips, ideas and tools (blog, twitter, etc.) for your daily work?
  • What are the top 3 things you should focus on in 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Call Center Schedule 101 - tips, tools and best practices

Every call center has different scheduling requirements. However, there are some tips and best practices that apply to most of them. Here you go:
And finally, if you are looking for a quick summary here is a document with 7 tips for improved scheduling you can download.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adherence to schedule - a big challenge for your call center?

Managing adherence to call center schedule is one of the most challenging jobs related to running a call center - making sure there is the right number of staff with the right skills available at the right times of the day. Here are some helpful tips and considerations:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Call Center Forecasting Methods & Techniques

Accurate forecasting is critical to successfully managing your call center. In order to meet call demand and avoid under- or over-staffing, you need methods that precisely predicts how many agents are needed to handle the center's call volume, and also methods that help you "re-calculate" if the the call volume fluctuates more than anticipated. Here are 5 considerations and methods that should help you improve forecast accuracy:
  1. The importance of accurate forecasting: First, take a look why an accurate forecast is crucial.

  2. How to improve forecasting with simulation tools: Anticipating the "future" is not easy, therefore, running simulations with different assumptions helps to better predict call volumes.

  3. How to forecast special days: There are certain days that are difficult to forecast, or are important for the business. Here are some tips on how to deal with those.

  4. How to do "intra-day" call forecasting: One of the biggest forecasting challenge is related to unpredictable call volume fluctuations - here are some "intra-day" tips.

  5. How to forecast for multiple channels: As more communication channels open up (phone, email, chat, social media) you have to add those to your forecasting scenarios.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spreadsheets for call center forecasting and scheduling?

The overwhelming majority of ongoing call center expenses are related to staffing (up to 70%). Having the optimum number of staff at the right time in the right place is essential to call center success and profitability. Over-staffing results in needless spending for unnecessary staff, while under-staffing will lower service levels, increase staff turnover and impact your revenues. Two key questions to ask:
  • Can a call center really "afford" to use spreadsheets for forecasting and scheduling, since there is so much at stake?
  • Does workforce management software provide measurable improvements resulting in savings that exceed the cost of the solution?
Here are three things to consider when you evaluate the situation in your call center:

1. More efficient scheduling and agent usage: The savings associated with more efficient scheduling includes reducing overall staff hours and need for overtime and identification of over-staffing. Call centers using WFM systems generally experience a minimum reduction of 2% for staff hours with an average potential savings in the 5 – 10% range.

2. Automation of scheduling tasks: Manual or Excel-based spreadsheet forecasting and scheduling consumes much of a supervisor’s time in many call centers. With WFM it is generally expected that at least 25% of the time currently devoted to manual input can be saved and used for coaching, training, etc.

3. Improved schedule adherence: Many hours of work time are wasted due to excessive non-productive interruptions. A WFM system can provide historical and real-time information on agent schedule adherence and exceptions, for better management and control of staff, reducing workforce shrinkage by 10 to 20 minutes per agent per day. Please read our whitepaper "Strategies for Improving Schedule Adherence" to learn more. Also, there is a related blog post that talks about the "cost of out-of-adherence".