Prevent a Forecasting Fumble in Your Small Contact Center
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Prevent a Forecasting Fumble in Your Small Contact Center

If you happened to watch the Super Bowl, or even if you didn’t, you probably heard that the game was a little (OK, let’s be honest, a lot) one-sided. A mistake in the very first play of the game, which turned into an omen of the beating to come, got the Denver Broncos off to a bad start and they were never able to gain momentum.  A game that, by all other accounts, should have been an even battle was turned on its head with an unexpected victor rising to the top.  Naturally, this got me thinking about small contact centers and the “game” that we play day in and day out.  (All right, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but just go with me on this one…) As small centers, we have the tools and resources available to be successful in overcoming the daily battles with, in particular, forecasting.  But it doesn’t always (or maybe for some of us, ever) feel like that’s the case.  We struggle with feeling short-staffed, under-resourced, and overwhelmed.  It’s almost like our customers KNOW that we’re backed into a corner and they persist, and persist, and persist, never allowing us to build momentum. We feel a lot like the Denver Broncos must have felt against the Seattle Seahawks. 

There is good news though! (For us – not the Denver Broncos – I mean they just lost the Super Bowl!) Our small contact centers actually have more flexibility, strategic value, and potential resources than we may initially perceive! You might be wondering, “How is that?” Well, here are a few tips and pointers that I picked up during my time working in small contact centers.

  1. A majority of the pain and suffering that seems to arise in the small contact center is the result of a bad forecast. While this could be the result of inaccurate data, a misunderstanding of agent capacity, or a seemingly rigid agent schedule, these are all things that with some knowledge, understanding, and creativity can be overcome. Look at creating a schedule that accounts for your historical variance to forecasts and enables you to adjust schedules as you approach the week ahead.
  2. Implement an escalation plan – BEFOREHAND! List out your action items, assign responsibilities and determine your thresholds for action.  Categorize your responses into foundational, tier 1, and tier 2 categories.  Have real-alternatives available to deploy when necessary and make sure that you effectively communicate these plans at all levels of your contact center.
  3. After you’ve gotten yourself into a mess (which you will), go back and conduct a root-cause analysis.  I can guarantee you that the Broncos will watch the videos of the Super Bowl to figure out what they could have done differently.  You need to be asking the question of, “How did we get into this?” Whether they were budgetary decisions, a bad forecast, agent adherence problems, or one of the many other possible things, you need to know what you can do differently next time.

In addition to what I shared with you today, I also encourage you to attend our upcoming live virtual course, Small Contact Centers: Forecasting and Scheduling on February 27 from 2-pm ET.  ICMI Senior Certified Associate Laura Grimes will break down the characteristics of the small contact center and show you how a better understanding of them can help you do more with less.

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Topics: Workforce Management

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