16 12, 2020

A letter to Intra-day managers in modern contact centers

2020-12-31T12:02:26+00:00December 16th, 2020|Capacity, Forecasting, Intra-day, Scheduling, WFM|

This year is difficult for all of us. The unforeseen COVID catastrophe has changed the way we work, the way we live, and even the way we love. Despite this, we are also fighting hard with a positive mindset to adapt ourselves to this new situation and achieve our goals for this year! Interestingly, this reminds us of intra-day management in contact centers, which also aims to reduce the impact of unforeseen fluctuations to reach the expected service level (SL). In this last blog of 2020, we would like to talk about the challenges and potential directions for improvement [...]

27 10, 2020

Why Excel is not suitable for Forecasting

2020-12-31T12:05:45+00:00October 27th, 2020|Forecasting, WFM|

Excel is an amazing tool that allows users to organize data in spreadsheets and manipulate it using a large selection of functions. However, many WFM departments also use it as a forecasting software for their time series. There are reasons why this is not a wise choice. We will elaborate on these reasons. Excel is not a database Using Excel for forecasting indirectly assumes that spreadsheets are used as database; asking that duty from Excel is one of the most notorious reasons for business inefficiencies. In fact, once your data grows, your spreadsheet grows too and becomes very slow [...]

8 09, 2020

Why more information does not always give a better Forecast

2020-12-31T12:06:20+00:00September 8th, 2020|Forecasting, WFM|

Call center forecasting is a fascinating field where science and business intersect to create stimulating challenges. However, business requests sometimes contradict scientific reasoning such as using external variables to predict call volumes. As a forecasting specialist I often receive an Excel sheet from the sales department containing future demand forecasts and I am asked to use this information to provide call volume forecasts for the coming weeks. Considering future demand to predict future calls seems, at first glance, entirely reasonable; after all, if sales increase, more customers will try to contact. The problem is that we want to predict [...]

25 08, 2020

The Forecaster’s Luck

2020-12-21T08:41:49+00:00August 25th, 2020|Forecasting, WFM|

I am lucky not to be a forecaster… because they really have a difficult job. They have to differentiate between the effects of many factors, such as day-of-the-week, week-of-the-year, long-term trend, marketing events - without being able to tell exactly what the effect of each factor is. The reason for this is twofold: factors change over time, depending on the time of the year, changes in the call center or the company’s business, etc. But also because everything is obscured by a layer of noise. Think about it: if you forecast 30 calls in half an hour, then 30 customers [...]

28 07, 2020

The Maths of Adherence

2020-12-31T12:06:50+00:00July 28th, 2020|Capacity, Forecasting, WFM|

Agent scheduling is neither the first nor the last step to make sure your agents do the right thing at the right moment. Before you need budget and capacity planning; after it you need real-time performance management. An important part of that is 'schedule adherence': making sure your agents do what they are supposed to do. However, 100% adherence to the schedule is impossible and undesirable. Evidently, when an agent is busy with a call the moment she is supposed to move to another activity there should be time to finish the call without having a bad adherence score. [...]

7 07, 2020

The Challenges surrounding Flexibility

2020-12-31T12:07:42+00:00July 7th, 2020|Capacity, Forecasting, Scheduling, WFM|

Today, as I’m writing this blog, is the first really warm summer day in Holland. Every WFM professional knows that this means less calls which arrive earlier in the day (unless you’re in airco sales). This results in overstaffing, especially in the afternoon. To avoid this we need flexibility. Perhaps some agents want to leave early, but the contract should allow it. Or you have some back-office work to do or trainings that can be scheduled, or even calls from a country where the weather is different.  Flexibility has many uses and faces. It has to do with when [...]