• Contact Center Workforce Management – Consider the Unusual First Part 1

    A contact center’s largest expense generally comes from its agent population, making staffing levels a focus of management’s attention. From the outside, it may look like a balancing act. On the one side, you need the right number of agents with the right skill sets to deliver exceptional customer experiences, while on the other side, you need to control costs and achieve operational efficiencies. The goal is to prevent overstaffing while avoiding service level failures.


    Over the years, workforce management has become very sophisticated. As a result, today’s RFPs often require providers to detail their workforce management processes and how call volume changes are handled. While important, perhaps more telling is how that provider deals with volume fluctuations during unusual situations— when stuff just happens.

    Planning for things you know

    While stuff does happen, contact centers would fail without a solid workforce management framework. A good provider will identify specific goals associated with each step:

    1.       Forecasting: ensure accurate inputs are combined with the right assumptions

    When selecting a provider, be sure to ask which forecasting methodologies are used for staffing calculations and queue dynamics. Proper planning involves long-term Staffing Forecasts (6 months out) coupled with short-term, detailed Scheduling Forecasts (up to 2 weeks out and at 30-minute intervals). Call history can be used to determine accurate inputs including call volumes, arrival patterns, handle times and abandonment rates. Identifying patterns, fluctuations and deviations, especially around holidays or special events, helps determine future staffing requirements.

    2.       Scheduling: establish stable agent schedules while controlling costs

    The next step is to balance staffing resources against costs. Effective scheduling is important because it impacts so many areas of the business including service level achievement, employee and customer satisfaction, the ability to execute non-voice activities, and of course, the bottom line. The goal of scheduling should be to combine all inputs and aim for stable agent schedules with a small proportion of the agent population kept flexible to address changing call curves.

    Stay tuned to our second article of the series Contact Center Workforce Management – Consider the Unusual First where we’ll share with you more tips for workforce management framework that will sustain the unusual situations.

    For more insights on the topic of contact center management download our insight paper Workforce Management: planning contact center program ramps — consider the unusual first.