Three Common Operating Mistakes in a Catalog Contact Center
The meeting’s purpose is to establish the upcoming weeks’ forecasts, adjust the current forecast and identify outstanding issues (e.g., new hires, training, departmental meetings, holidays, illness) that can affect the center’s staffing.
Forecasting customer contacts is a dynamic process with weekly schedules being produced three to four weeks in advance and continually being refined during subsequent weeks. The weekly call volume then is allocated over days of the week by using historic call patterns such as percentage of calls by day of the week and hour of the day.
Without the direct involvement of marketing and an ongoing reappraisal of the forecast, an accurate and up-to-date workload projection is impossible; and without it, operations has no ability to plan or manage either a cost or service standard.
Mistake No. 2: Inappropriate Staffing Calculations
Unfortunately, even with accurate call forecasts, companies still fail to correctly determine their staffing requirements. Catalogers make two common mistakes in calculating headcount requirements:
• staffing to satisfy a specific call abandonment-rate objective; and
• relying on the number of calls per rep hour as a productivity measure.
First, while maintaining low call-abandonment rates is a worthy objective, staffing to meet this objective isn’t as easy as it seems. Contact center managers can control only how fast calls will be answered, not how long callers will wait on hold.
As a result, management has only indirect control over the abandonment rate, because a caller’s tolerance to a holding delay will vary by call type and service expectations.
Second, using a fixed number of calls per hour to determine staffing will result in uneven service performance throughout the day. As shown in the Contact Center Staffing chart (above left), the rep productivity necessary to achieve a specific service level will increase as the call volume increases.