In the current economy, it is critical to ensure you are getting maximum benefit from your forecasting tool. Inaccurate forecasting can severely impact profitability. If call volume is underestimated to the extent that 100 callers out of 1,000 hang up before they speak to an agent in a sales environment where the average order is just $50, $5,000 in lost revenues will occur per day, $150,000 per month, or a staggering $1.8 million per year.
Accurate forecasting is determined by providing the required accuracy and taking account all the historic and future dynamics. No single methodology is optimal for all circumstances; however, four factors should be taken into consideration:
- Correlated Forecasting – includes forecasting for specific events that cause wide fluctuations in the volume of calls that must be processed.
- Integrated approach to support multi-skilled issues – is necessary to have forecasting algorithms that directly calculate requirements in a multi-skilled environment, while avoiding repetitive analytical simulations.
- Collecting enough historical data – is imperative to maintain detailed data for several years in order to produce an accurate forecast.
- Algorithms that include curve mapping and pattern recognition – in variable environments, Historical Trend Analysis is the only way to ensure proper staffing and that can incorporate complex historical trends in its calculations.
Ensuring your workforce management system produces accurate forecasts is your most important consideration. Keep these four tips in mind to maximize accuracy of your forecasting tool:
- Beware of averages – While forecasting averages is a safe bet, it is not likely to be the most accurate.
- Give the forecaster some data – The more data, the better. If the tool cannot process more than a few weeks of data, its accuracy will be compromised.
- Have realistic expectations – The tool’s predictions can only be based on what has happened historically and on what it is told will happen in the future.
- Understand how your forecasting tool works – (a) How much data can it store/use? (b) Can it take account for inflation due to abandoned calls? (c) Can it recognize seasonal and growth trends (d) Can you input special event information and apply correlation factors? (e) How does it accomplish all these things?
For optimum forecasting, invest in a system that can perform critical functions, accommodate future needs, and maintain sufficient historical call data to generate accurate forecasts.
Pipkins, Inc. is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry. Vantage Point, Pipkins’ premier product, is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. Pipkins’ @HomeVantage gives organizations the ability to effectively manage their agents and can be used with Vantage Point or integrated into another workforce management system to leverage existing technology. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.Pipkins.com.