Forecasting and scheduling are crucial components of call centre operation, but the reality of day-to-day performance can wreak havoc with even perfect planning. Thankfully, a solution is at hand: intraday management.
The Problem With Forecasts: They’re Wrong
In many call centres, workload forecasts are completed months in advance. Schedules are created based on those forecasts ahead of time and distributed to agents and managers weeks before coming into use. Staffing requirements, training activities and break times are all based on forecasts, often down to the half-hour interval, made weeks prior to each day of call centre operation.
Unfortunately, forecasts are only ever a best guess of each day’s operation. In most cases, reality is always different from a forecast. On any given day, the call centre can be hit by fluctuations in call volumes, higher than average absenteeism, urgent staff issues and a plethora of other challenges.
Given the latest information on customer demand on the day, there has to be a way to check that schedules are still valid and to address any threats to service levels or opportunities for better productivity.
The Solution: Intraday Management
Intraday management reduces the impact of surprises; rebalancing each day’s workload with available human resources in order to deliver a good service level to customers efficiently. Intraday management keeps track of workloads across all channels and manages the allocation of agents to each.
Whenever a change to the schedule is requested, or an unexpected event occurs, intraday management can model the expected impact of the change on the day’s service level. It can approve requests when staff is plentiful and postpone less important work when call volumes are higher than anticipated. By redeploying agents, monitoring call volumes and keeping a watchful eye over the day’s operation, intraday management can smooth out the peaks and troughs in the day’s performance.
Real Time vs. Intraday
The concept of intraday management isn’t new, even if the name is a relatively recent adoption. Variants of intraday management have existed in the call centre for years, referred to as real-time management (in roles like real-time analyst and real-time manager).
Within the context of the call centre, ‘real time’ tends to refer to activities and measurements that take place within five, ten or fifteen minutes of an event. However, with the increasing adoption of truly instantaneous ‘real-time’ technologies (like real-time payment systems), the term is becoming less meaningful. As a result, many in the industry are adopting the moniker of intraday management – meaning simply ‘during the day’ management.
Identifying Intraday Opportunities
Crucially, there’s more to intraday management than protecting service levels. In many call centres, over-allocation of resources is as much of a problem as under-allocation; and agents sitting idle can be just as damaging to performance as agents overwhelmed by high call volumes.
Intraday management has a huge scope for identifying these missed opportunities, as well as remedying potential problems. Instead of approving a schedule and leaving the day’s performance to chance, intraday management gives you the process you need to make the schedule work and make the most of staff time on the day.
Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, and simply hoping for the best, you’re taking steps to ensure that service levels are hit, agents are fully utilised, and customers are getting great service.
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