Contact centers must ensure they have sufficient call center agents every shift to meet consumer demands, provide quality customer experiences, and burnish their client’s reputation.
With today’s consumers demanding 24/7 multichannel customer support, brands need to build a high-functioning team with the right number of people to provide the level of care your customers deserve.
You don’t want to hire in droves and end up with a bunch of surplus employees, squandering your staffing and resources budget. And you don’t want to encounter understaffing issues either, resulting in high call abandon rates and tanking customer satisfaction scores.
Your business process outsourcing (BPO) partner must have an effective workforce planning strategy to determining the correct staff size for your customer service program. Service levels must be maintained without causing a significant dent on the bottom line.
Here are the factors to consider for effective workforce planning.
Start with how many inbound calls you get within a certain timeframe. You should be able to extract this data from your automatic call distribution (ACD) system or your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
If you aren’t using those tools, you may gather the relevant figures from your telecommunications provider. Another option is to ask your agents to manually log the number of calls they handle every day for a given period.
Average Handling Time
Average handling time (AHT) is a metric that contact centers use to monitor the amount of time an agent spends talking to a customer to solve their issues.
You can also access this information from your ACD or CRM system, or from agents’ manual call logs. Afterwards, you can calculate your AHT by adding all the call durations recorded and then dividing the result by the total number of calls handled within a given period.
The calculated number may be used as a basis for determining the number of call center agents you need, in addition to the number of transactions you typically handle. For instance, if your AHT is relatively short, you may need fewer agents on the operations floor.
Service Level Target
Service level refers to the percentage of calls that a live agent answers within a set amount of time.
Contact centers typically aim to answer 80% of inbound calls within 20 seconds. Recently, some customer support providers respond to 90% of calls in 10 to 15 seconds.
In most cases, you and your BPO partner need to agree on the minimum service level that must be achieved and maintained. The higher your target is, the more employees you’d have to hire.
In contact centers, shrinkage is the amount of time agents spend away from their computers. This includes lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, absences, authorized leaves, and schedule violations (e.g., working less than eight hours, coming in late, etc.). All these can reduce your productivity.
As part of your workforce management, considering shrinkage can help you calculate the number of customer support reps you need to cover for employee attendance gaps in the team.
Seasonal Peaks and Downtimes
It’s also important to consider the seasonal peaks and downtimes in your business.
Peaks include holidays and any of your brand’s promotions that can cause significant uptick in your call volume. For instance, most call centers handle more transactions during the holidays than usual. Make sure that your team can handle sudden spikes in incoming customer requests and transactions.
Conversely, you should also plan for downtimes. Some customer service handle this by hiring on-call or freelance employees who work only upon request. This is a much more flexible setup, which will allow you to maximize your operation costs.
Data-Driven Workforce Planning for Seamless Operations
Open Access BPO has a dedicated team of Workforce Analysts to ensure our programs’ seamless operations. They develop weekly and monthly forecasts based on each program’s historical data, our partners’ goals, seasonal trends, and real-time operational data.
With the aid of forecasting tools, they craft cohesive workforce schedule plans for programs that experience frequent fluctuations in transaction volumes.
This contributes to the achievement of service levels, targeted key performance indicator scores, and customer satisfaction. They also collaborate with partners, the Reports Team, Team Leaders, and the Program Managers to ensure that all workforce requirements are being met.
As a leading provider of agile outsourcing business solutions, Open Access BPO has over a decade of experience working with brands across industries. We match businesses of all sizes with an expert team of skilled professionals with the help of our Recruitment and Workforce teams.
Contact us today so our project development experts can start developing an outsourcing plan hyper-customized for your unique needs and goals.