Discover how intraday management can empower you with the tools and insight you need to take control of the customer experience.
No Forecast Is Ever Right
Despite the best efforts of planners, your call centre will never see a day when your forecast is exactly the same as reality.
As Murphy’s law says: everything that can go wrong, will. It doesn’t take much of a deviation for the day’s plan to suffer, and a few unexpected phonecalls, and a handful of unanticipated absences, and your best laid plans suddenly find themselves outdated and irrelevant.
On any given day, there are dozens of ways for performance to deviate from the forecast:
- Call volumes can be much higher than expected, thanks to unforecasted bad weather, an unexpected customer service problem, or any number of unseen factors.
- Call volumes can be lower than expected, leaving agents sitting idle.
- Average handling times may be longer than expected.
- Average handling times might be shorter than expected
- Absenteeism might be higher than planned for, creating empty desks and longer queues.
- Absenteeism may be lower than expected, leaving agents with little to do.
In the same way that ‘no plan ever survives contact with the enemy’, your forecast will never predict every intimate detail of the day’s operation.
When the Plan Fails, It’s the Customers That Suffer
In spite of that fact, some call centres will never deviate from their schedules: holding planned training sessions despite high absenteeism from a bout of flu, or continuing to clear an email backlog in spite of a spike in call volumes.
Variations of these problems happen every single day; and when call volumes spike, and queue lengths grow, it isn’t always the call centre (or its staff) that suffer the most.
We’ve seen contact centres decimated by unexpected call volumes, with a hundred people on each queue, and a service level not far from 0 calls answered in 20 seconds. It was a tough day for the call centre’s staff, but it was even tougher for the customers trying to get through to an agent.
Every single call represents a customer trying to solve a problem. As call volumes grow and queues swell, it isn’t just your service level targets that suffer. Each of those customers is left waiting, worried that their problem will go unsolved, and frustrated that the company doesn’t care enough to answer their call.
So what’s the solution?
Intraday Management Prioritises Customer Contact
Looping the message ‘Your call is important to us’ doesn’t do anything to solve your customers’ problems, or compensate for long waiting times. Excessive waiting needs to be an exception, and not the rule; and call centres that don’t take steps to close the gap between the plan, and reality, risk paying little more than lip service to the customer experience.
Intraday management gives your call centre the power to take control of threats to your service level, and solve them before they become a problem. It allows the call centre to adapt to reality, rescheduling meetings and break times, and reallocating agents, to ensure that service levels are maintained. Instead of publishing a schedule, and hoping that the workload will come in as forecasted, intraday gives you the tools you need to ensure that the plan fits the reality. There’s no need to just go through the motions; and you can take proactive action to protect the customer experience.
Intraday allows you to prioritise activities, and make the best possible use of your agents’ valuable time. You can respond to changes in call volumes, average handling times and absenteeism, and reallocate your agents to the most important tasks. Instead of passing problems on to the customer, you can take ownership over the customer experience, and ensure that a volatile day doesn’t result in volatile customer service.
Improve the Customer Experience
The end result is simple: deviations from the forecast have less of an impact on the customer, resulting in lower waiting times, and happier customers.
The positive impact of intraday management on the customer experience is borne out by research. Data from the Aberdeen Group (“The Strategic Value of Intraday Management in the Call Centre”, July 2013) has shown that intraday management results in quanitifable improvements to the customer experience, including:
- Reduced call abandonment rates.
- Improved agent productivity.
- Improved first call resolution rates.
- Improved customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
The customer experience is paramount to the success of your call centre. By using intraday to proactively manage and control everyday threats to your service level, you can significantly improve the experience of your callers: and reap the rewards of happy, satisfied customers.