- Accurate workforce management forecasting helps contact center managers optimize resources and save money.
- You can improve the accuracy of your workforce forecasting by using well-designed tools and strategies.
- Accurate forecasting includes taking a holistic view of your workforce management needs across all channels and shifts, accounting for shrinkage and volume spikes.
Contact center managers spend a lot of time and effort creating workforce management forecasts, and for good reason. Forecasting can help fill any gaps in agent work schedules so that every minute is well-spent, saving contact centers money and optimizing resources.
Without proper workforce management forecasting, contact centers can easily find themselves without adequate staffing to handle all the incoming calls. On the other hand, scheduling too many agents means money wasted.
Accurate forecasting allows contact center managers to ensure that the right number of agents are scheduled at any given time to meet the needs of the customers without running the risk of overstaffing.
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This entails predicting with reasonable certainty call volumes throughout the day, week, month, or time of year to give you the insight needed to adequately staff to meet customer demand.
You can improve workforce forecasting with the right tools and strategies in place. Here are a few tips to make the most of workforce management forecasting.
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1. Boost agent engagement
The average employee turnover rate in contact centers is between 30 and 45%. The direct and indirect costs of high turnover rates are significant and include costs such as:
- Recruiting costs
- Hiring costs
- Training costs
- Supervision costs
- Unproductive paid time
- Overtime costs
Strong employee engagement is one of the keys to reducing high turnover rates because engaged workers who report high levels of satisfaction are likely to stick around for the long haul.
Engaged contact center agents also boost productivity in the office and ensure better customer satisfaction. Keeping agents on the roster for the long term also makes it easier to forecast ongoing workforce needs.
2. Account for ‘shrinkage’
‘Shrinkage’ refers to any time lost to staff training, meetings, breaks, and anything else that takes up time during business hours and does not contribute to agent productivity. Shrinkage percentage should be considered when forecasting to help prepare contact center management for any unexpected situations. It also ensures that there are always adequate resources available to handle customer demands without the need to spend more than necessary to overstaff the center.
Accounting for various workplace activities that cut into an agent’s work time allows for more accurate forecasting.
3. Forecast for holidays
You must account for holidays and vacation days in contact center workforce forecasting. Special days, which are days when the volume of customer communications is higher than normal, should also be considered. To do this accurately, gather historic data from prior holidays, vacation days, and special days and analyze when and how often they took place, then apply appropriate weight to the information collected.
4. Factor in back-office employee activities
Some contact centers may only consider agents on the floor taking customer calls when forecasting workforce management. But it’s also important to consider employees working in back offices or blended agents who assume more of a hybrid job title in forecasts. Paying closer attention to back-office activities will help contact center management to more accurately and effectively staff their centers according to their needs and business goals.
5. Account for all contact channels
Modern contact centers include multiple channels of communication with customers besides telephone, including chatbox, social media, and email. Managers and supervisors should account for these additional channels in workforce forecasting, but that may not be happening on a consistent basis just yet.
To gain accurate insight into the needs of the contact center and ensure that agents are scheduled appropriately, you should include all communication channels in the forecast.
6. Measure forecast accuracy
Having a forecast in place is important, but the accuracy of the forecasting will determine how effective a contact center’s staff scheduling is at ensuring minimal gaps. Unfortunately, many contact centers do not effectively measure their forecasting needs relative to intraday requirements.
To ensure your contact center’s scheduling needs are appropriately met, it’s important to pinpoint where improvements can and should be made, which can be achieved by carefully measuring the results of your forecasting model over time.
7. Make use of sound forecasting tools
Robust forecasting tools can give contact centers valuable insight into previous project data without the need to spend time manually going through detailed reports. These tools can also show contact centers the number of hours that resources are scheduled and how they’re assigned, as well as help track time to provide the exact amount of time spent on projects.
8. Take advantage of historical data
Historical data can provide contact centers with valuable information needed to accurately forecast. Luckily, today’s innovative workforce management software solutions can provide contact centers with more accurate forecasting by collecting call history from any customer relationship management (CRM) system and allowing managers to look over workforce data over a period of time to achieve accuracy in forecasting.
Leveraging historical data using these workforce management solutions can help management keep tabs on shrinkage, average agent-customer call times, and other metrics relevant to contact centers. Any changes to these factors can be assessed using these tools. Contact center managers can then use the data to appropriately forecast workplace needs in greater detail.
Leverage RingCentral technology to improve your forecasting
At the end of the day, anticipating customer needs through workforce management forecasting can help contact centers create excellent customer experiences. RingCentral’s innovative contact center solutions include workforce management technologies that enable accurate forecasting for your contact center, which leads to better employee engagement and improved customer experience. Get in touch with RingCentral today and request your free demo.
Originally published Feb 03, 2022, updated Feb 23, 2023