Contact Center Forecasting: Tougher than Predicting the Weather?
I sometimes ask myself why I didn’t become a meteorologist. Think about it: in what other role can you be incorrect so frequently and still have a job? It’s not like anyone can blame the meteorologist or point their finger at them when they’re wrong. It is, after all, the weather.
“Predicting the location and intensity of thunderstorms is like peering into a pot of boiling water and trying to figure out where a bubble will pop and how big it will be.”
— The Washington Post
Fortunately, in most cases, weather’s unpredictable nature and the inaccuracy of the corresponding forecasts cause only minor inconveniences. You might be caught outside without an umbrella, or find yourself driving in snowy weather without a windshield scraper.
But in business, inaccurate forecasts can do much more than inconvenience your company—they could bankrupt it.
Take contact center forecasting. For most contact centers, the primary goal is balancing customer service and service level goals while minimizing staffing costs. Since staffing typically comprises 70 to 80 percent of a contact center’s budget, it stands to reason that the top way to stay within budget is by preventing understaffing and overstaffing.
After all, if you overstaff your contact center, you pay agents to wait for calls that will never come. And the result if you understaff it is even worse: customers frustrated by long wait times may decide to buy from your competitors instead of maintaining their relationship with you.
It’s easy to see why so many contact center leaders believe good forecasting is the foundation of contact center scheduling. It:
- Helps the business staff to prepare budget estimates to meet anticipated service levels at any given time.
- Empowers analysts to create reliable schedules that place the right agents, with the right skills, at the right time—at a minimum cost to the business.
- Gives customers a great experience with your brand.
Like anything that is meaningful, however, it’s not always easy. In fact, many of these same leaders tout forecasting as one of the most challenging ways to optimize contact center staffing. This is because contact volume itself can be so unpredictable, and unexpected events—like a website outage—can create unanticipated contact surges and long handle times.
But don’t let the potential hurdles scare you away. Developing accurate forecasts takes commitment and the use of intelligent applications like Calabrio Workforce Management can help you learn from these unexpected events, so you can predict them better next time.
The payoff to your business is well worth it.
Start improving your contact center forecasting right away. Download our new white paper, The Top 3 Ways to Forecast for Your Contact Center, to learn more.