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Causes of Inaccurate Call Center Workforce Forecasting & How To Avoid Them - The Connection - Blog

Causes of Inaccurate Call Center Workforce Forecasting & How To Avoid Them

Without effective workforce forecasting, call centers cannot serve customers well or function profitably.

Virtually everything that goes into optimizing resources — recruiting, hiring, staffing, and scheduling — depends on having an accurate estimate of the work that will come your way.

How accurate does your forecast have to be? As a general rule of thumb:

  • Large agent groups (100 or more agents) generally see relatively stable contact patterns. You should strive to forecast workforce needs to within 5 percent (or better), down to specific intervals (see table below).
  • Small groups (15 or fewer agents) often have more volatile patterns and should shoot for plus or minus 10 percent.
  • Those in-between should strive for something as close to 5 percent as possible.

In a perfect world, workforce forecasting would also be perfect. So, think of it as a work in progress, with continuous improvement as your top priority.

To help you reach your goals, we have identified ten common barriers to forecasting accuracy. In most cases, call centers with inaccurate forecasts usually find that two or three of these issues are most prevalent. The good news is, you can avoid these problems! By identifying the culprits, remedies become evident.

READ: Call Center Forecasting Challenges Managers Face

1. No Systematic Process Exists 

No excuses! Two myths often used to justify the absence of a systematic forecasting process focus on the “impossibly unpredictable” nature of the environment or claim that forecasting is simply not worth the time and effort. These misconceptions will set you up for failure because you cannot forecast successfully without establishing a consistent process.

2. Assuming "the Forecasting Software Knows Best" 

Forecasting software can be very helpful in collecting and analyzing data, running scenarios, contrasting methodologies and predicting potential outcomes. But you cannot just plug numbers in and have accurate forecasts pop out. The software does not know about your marketing plans, competitor activity, or any significant initiatives you have recently put in place that will literally reshape services. Software is a tool, not a replacement for humans.

3. Failure to Forecast at the Agent Group Level 

Even a perfect forecast of the aggregate workload will be of limited use if you route contacts to specialized groups. If you have a group of Spanish-speaking agents handling services A, B and C, you will need to forecast contacts from Spanish-speaking customers who need help with those services. This, of course, is a prerequisite to effective recruiting and hiring.

4. Ignoring Your Forecast   

If the forecast has been wildly inaccurate in the past or if no one understands the assumptions used in the process, it will not be given the credence it needs in the planning steps to follow.

5. Including Exceptions in Building Your Forecast 

Utility companies see contact volume go up when storms knock out power. The financial industry gets swamped when markets swoon. And all contact centers know what it is like to deal with a surprise spike in volume from an unannounced marketing campaign. These events are exceptions to normal activity, so including them in workforce forecasting guarantees skewed results. Those preparing the forecast must understand the root causes of past experience in order to make sound judgments about what will most likely be needed on an ongoing basis.

6. There is no Inter-Departmental Communication 

Most of the issues that affect customers and contact centers are caused by something going on in another department of your business. The forecast, as well as any larger business transformation initiatives, can be doomed if communication and feedback don't exist across all departments.

7. Planning Is Based on Unrealistic Goals 

If staffing is based on a handling time of four minutes when actual handling time is more like seven minutes, the resulting staff calculations and schedules will be based on a pipe dream. While things like lower employee turnover, improved training, or better systems could move things toward your desired handling time. However, ignoring reality in the planning process won't help to achieve better results or build confidence in the forecast.

8. No One Is Accountable 

Someone needs to be responsible for pulling together the various types of data needed for forecasting, ensuring that data is integrated into the forecast, and investigating which assumptions were off if the forecast proves to be inaccurate.

9. Agents Are Mixing Flexible Activities into Work Modes 

If agents are not using work modes consistently, especially after-call work, then accurate forecasting will be elusive.

10. Not Making the Connection with Staffing 

Forecasts mean nothing unless they are tied to staff and system resource requirements. Once you have a sound forecasting process in place, you are prepared to hire contact center superstars.

Workforce forecasting takes practice. You will never learn all there is to know about it — but you will get better at it. The best way to improve accuracy is to compare your forecasts with actual results and then ask, "Why?"


Publish Date: November 21, 2019

2024 Buyers Guide Computer Telephony Integration

Premium Listing
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

AMC Technology

DaVinci provides Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) to a library of pre-built applications + UXiPaaS (User Experience Integration Platform as a Service) built specifically for contact centers. As contact center needs evolve, organizations need to have access to extend or create new functionality, without waiting to be a part of a software roadmap. Get the benefits of CTI within your CRM like screen pop, click-to-dial, screen transfer, speed dial and more, but future-proof your contact center so you can expand and integrate how and when you want.

IntraNext Systems

IntraNext Systems develops agent efficiency tools and data security software solutions for medium-to-large contact centers. Our Event Intelligence® Platform solutions include SmartCTI™, iGuard®, and SmartSIP™. SmartSIP is based on our patented SIP layer technology and provides a DTMF masking solution for VoIP environments.


What is PhoneIQ?
PhoneIQ is the modern cloud phone system and contact center platform built exclusively for companies on Salesforce. Our all-in-one cloud communications platform brings together power dialing, local presence, voicemail drop, Salesforce call routing, call recording and a complete PBX replacement that lives within your CRM. With support for desktop, mobile, and desk phones, PhoneIQ works seamlessly at the office or remote, logging all interactions in Salesforce and generating reports in real-time.

Best For
Companies using Salesforce and looking for a phone system, dialer, or contact center software that provides deep integration capabilities with their CRM and expert Salesforce support.


Easy Contact Center Traffic Analytics (Ec2Traffic)
Prilink Ec2Traffic provides network traffic analytics (NTA) for Internet, SIP Trunk and WebRTC traffic for on-premises and cloud Contact Centers.

Ec2Traffic analyzes network layer 2 to 4, RTP and SRTP packet loss and SIP protocols in real-time from the demarcation point or network edge, generating NTA metadata and requires little telemetry bandwidth.

Ec2Traffic provides:

- Year-round NTA metadata

- Daily CSV files upload to Customer business applications

- Capture packet to Wireshark for Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)

- detect traffic anomalies

- and more ....

The Primas Group

Primas CX
Primas CX is a CTI-based contact center enhancement suite that takes your contact center software to the next level.
It provides a set of tools that every contact center needs, over and above their vendor features.

*Advanced Call Back in Queue & SMS in Queue
*Agent Screen Pop
*Chatbot Automation
*Welcome Back Greeting
*Post Contact Survey
*Dropped Call Reconnect
*Digital Front Door & Many more

As a Vendor Agnostic ISV, we pride ourselves on delivering the best COTS & Custom solutions for any contact center in any industry.


View more from The Connection

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