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A Guide to Contact Center Forecasting & Workforce Management

Maximizing your Contact Center Forecasting Starts by Understanding the Laws of Supply and Demand.  

When measuring your contact center forecasting success, it’s easy to get caught up in reaching service and financial goals, forgetting the need to keep staffing costs down. One of the most common challenges facing workforce managers is balancing the two. Many different forecasting techniques are available, but you probably struggle with knowing which system works best for your contact center. The end goal is to balance your supply of employees with the demand of calls, emails and web chats. 

First, it is necessary to understand the law of supply and demand. Demand consists of calls, emails, web chats and other forms of communication taking place with the customer. The number of contact center employees available to assist a customer determines supply. When the demand surpasses supply, service levels reduce, employees become overwhelmed and customer satisfaction decreases. When the supply is greater than demand, service improves at the cost of advisors being paid with no work to do. The key to contact center forecasting is finding the perfect balance between your contact center’s supply and demand. 

What is Contact Center Forecasting?

Contact center forecasting is a projection process to schedule the optimal number of employees to meet the contact center’s demand. The goal is to have enough agents to meet caller needs without having too many agents being paid without any work to do. Forecasting accuracy depends on considering call volume and omnichannel interaction averages from previous years, current trends and the time of year.    

Forecasting Factors to Consider

Contact center forecasting consists of projecting the number of incoming calls and aligning them with the actual number of calls that occur. Then, managers can schedule the optimal number of contact center agents. A big part of accurately forecasting is accounting for change. Factors such as days of the week, months, seasons, holidays and time of day impact the demand of an average contact center.  

These are all regular events that impact demand, but forecasts must also consider irregular factors. These factors include variations in call volume, call time, different needs and the amount of assistance required. Contact center managers must consider regular and irregular factors to make the most accurate forecast.         

Workforce Management Integration 

Properly integrating knowledge from your workforce management system is vital to accurate forecasting. Then, you can consider historical data in the forecasting process to better understand what happened in the past. 

You must also understand how other departments operate and consider their workflows, such as meetings, training and marketing campaigns. This knowledge will enable you to understand the staffing demand of the entire organization to project the supply and demand of your contact center.  

Trends and Seasonality 

One way to consider historical data in contact center forecasting is to assess trends and seasonality. Trends can show call volume levels being consistent over the same time as previous years. Seasonality impacts forecasting similarly by considering the time of the year and holiday seasons in their projections. For example, November and December  may be a season where retail companies see an increase in calls, but accounting and insurance businesses may see a reduction as people focus on other things during the holiday season. 

Previously, forecasters used an average of the past two or three years to project call volume. Now there are more efficient ways to project through exponential smoothing. This forecasting strategy prioritizes recent years to produce more accurate forecasts. Don’t forget to remove any outliers or oddities from specific years that occurred in a unique circumstance.    

Scheduling the Right Workforce 

Once you make your forecasts and projections, it’s time to start scheduling your contact center staff. Ideally, you would always have the perfect number of agents to respond to the exact number of calls. Unfortunately, in a world of employees getting sick, running late, or unexpected call volumes due to unpredictable circumstances, changes to the schedule must occur to best meet contact center demand, achieve business goals and provide quality customer service. 

Even a schedule based on good forecasts is not final, and you should change it according to employee and contact center demand needs. The contact center manager should regularly make adjustments to ensure workforce efficiency. Automation from a workforce management system can make the adjustment process much easier by searching a database of all worker availability, looking at employee history, and comparing workforce supply with the forecasts to make better predictions in the future.      

The Key to Improved Contact Center Forecasting Starts with Optimizing Your Workforce Management System.

An outdated, siloed workforce management system is a thing of the past. Your forecasting success depends on optimizing the perfect balance between your contact center’s supply and demand. Download your free whitepaper today, and discover what’s possible with an AI-enabled workforce management system.  

Key Takeaways

  • The key to contact center forecasting is finding the perfect balance between your contact center’s supply and demand. 
  • When the demand surpasses the supply, service levels reduce, employees become overwhelmed, and customer satisfaction decreases. 
  • When supply is greater than demand, service improves at the cost of advisors being paid with no work to do. 
  • Factors such as days of the week, months, seasons, holidays and time of day all impact the demand of an average contact center. 
  • Even a schedule based on good forecasts is not final, and you should change it according to employee and contact center demand needs.
Authority-Software-5-Keys-to-Improve-Your-Customer-Experience

5 Keys to Improved Customer Experience with Cloud-Based Contact Center Solutions

Optimize your customer journey with cloud-based contact center software

You may understand the internal benefits cloud-based contact center solutions provide to your business, but they also impact your external customer experience. Customers expect quick response times and accurate answers to their questions. Don’t let your WFO solution be the reason customers turn elsewhere out of frustration. Improve your customer experience with cloud-based contact center solutions. 

How does a cloud-based contact center work? 

A cloud-based contact center relies on fully integrated workforce optimization solutions hosted in the cloud. These solutions provide access from anywhere to quality management systems, workforce management, customized designs, and CX applications all while delivering superior service to customers.

1. Get Better Value with the Cloud. 

Your bottom line relies on customer satisfaction and retention. Since using siloed and outdated contact center systems demand more time and energy from your employees, your team can become frustrated and worn out during customer interactions. Helping to recapture this lost time and productivity should be the chief concern of workforce optimization tools now and in the future.

With a cloud-based contact center solution, your team recovers valuable labor hours, previously wasted on navigating and troubleshooting segregated systems. A WFO solution focused on ease-of-use and speed of service is more likely to improve the customer experience and CSAT scores overall. Don’t let technology get in the way of day-to-day operations and limit the time you spend with your customers.  

2. Cloud-Based Contact Centers Optimize Workforce Efficiency to Meet Demand. 

If it wasn’t clear before the pandemic, it is certainly clear now that the 9 – 5 workday is history. Today, businesses must serve the 24/7 needs of consumers who expect fast, if not immediate, response times. 

Cloud-based contact center solutions ensure employees can be scheduled based on demand rather than the same hours every day. WFO software optimizes labor through algorithms that anticipate customer needs at all hours of the day. This process prepares contact center employees for spikes in customer demand. Scheduling and forecasting prepares the workforce to provide the right amount of customer service when it’s needed the most. No more guesswork. No more massive spreadsheets.  

3. Look to the Future of Customer Communication.

Customer communication has expanded from calling a single toll-free number to including digital channels, such as email, messaging and live chats. Legacy WFO systems are pieced-together segments of software which fail to meet customer needs in a world of multi-channel communication. 

Cloud-based contact center solutions provide easy-to-use and modern UX, so you can follow the customer journey from one channel to the next. Integrated technology and customized delivery connect to allow contact center agents to anticipate customer needs and stay one step ahead of demand. Cloud solutions improve CSAT scores by eliminating the guesswork and enabling exceptional speed of customer resolutions.

4. Match Agent Skills with Customer Needs. 

We’ve all experienced the agonizing frustration of being put on hold for what seems like an infinite amount of time, only to be transferred yet again by the next uninformed person we encounter. Cloud-based contact centers eliminate this frustration through call monitoring and predictive AI to efficiently match your need with an agent who has the answer. This process matches individual agent skills and knowledge with customer needs to prevent wasted time getting to the right person. By following and integrating each unique customer journey, the cloud-based system enables the right agent to match with the right customer. 

5. Ensure Continuity Between Disaster Recovery and Business Flow.  

When disaster strikes, the cloud enables software to continue operating without interruption, unlike premise-based contact center solutions. Infrastructure and data is stored offsite in a secure place to prevent the entire system from going under in the event of a disaster. Mobile-friendly features allow the contact center to be accessible from phones or any device with WIFI access, ensuring business flow continuity that isn’t possible when an onsite contact center goes down. 

In addition, cloud-based solutions provide greater security for contact center and customer data. By housing the infrastructure and data in a cloud-based model, greater measures are taken to increase security and ensure data protection that couldn’t occur onsite. 

Your customer service depends on cloud-based contact center solutions. 

Cloud-based contact center solutions are necessary to improve customer service in a 24/7, digital world. With customers using multiple communication channels, siloed contact centers cannot adapt to customer expectations and demands. If these systems do not fully integrate, customers will experience slow and frustrating responses. This causes the risk of losing customers because of technology. 

Learn what’s possible with AI-enabled workforce management. Download your free guide today. 

Key Takeaways

  • Siloed and outdated contact center systems demand more time and energy from your employees, creating frustration. 
  • Businesses must serve the 24/7 needs of their customers who expect fast, if not immediate response times. 
  • Communicating with customers expanded from calling a single toll-free number to including digital channels, such as email, messaging and live chats. Cloud-based systems fully integrate these channels to follow the customer journey. 
  • Cloud-based systems enable the right agent to match with the right customer. 
  • Cloud-based contact centers are necessary to improve the customer experience.