Call centre managers face an ever-changing array of challenges and questions – so what is the most important question to answer in order to optimise a contact centre’s running costs?

A paper accepted for publication in the International Journal of Operational Research and republished in the Iowa State University Digital Repository looks at the use of staffing algorithms to reduce call queueing and delays in call centres.

The paper’s authors, Dong Dai, Arka P Ghosh and Keguo Huang, explained that labour costs – including salaries and training expenses – represent the single largest area of expenditure when running a call centre.

In their analysis, they wrote: “This leads to the most important decision to be made by a manager: What is an appropriate number of representatives for a call centre at any given time to accommodate a time-varying number of customers?”

Supply and demand

The answer to this question is one of supply and demand. At different times of day – even over the course of a single shift – call centre agents can encounter significantly different levels of demand from queued callers.

In the example given in their research paper, the authors found variation depending on the day of the week, as well as peaks in demand during late morning and early afternoon.

They wrote: “In response to the arrival rates that are changing over time, one needs to come up with a staffing level function that changes over time as well.”

Due to the need to avoid wasted resources, while still delivering a good level of customer service, they asserted that ‘good’ staffing levels represent the least possible number of call agents required to deliver consistent service despite changing demand.

Consistent SLAs in changing conditions

MaxContact Workforce Management is a powerful platform that enables contact centre managers to meet and exceed their SLAs despite ever-changing caller demand and agent shift patterns.

It achieves this by analysing all of your call centre interactions, taking into account KPIs and SLAs, differences in contracted hours, agent skillsets, annual leave and so on.

Once all of this data has been integrated, WFM forecasts the mix of skills and the minimum staffing level you will need to deliver the desired performance on each upcoming shift.

This applies not only to inbound calls, but other channels too, for example:

  • Email support
  • SMS
  • Web chat
  • Back-office administration

Alternatively, when you are operating with limited resources, WFM can forecast the best performance you can get from your existing team, and what you need to add in order to take it to the next level.

Raise performance while cutting costs

The optimisations delivered by MaxContact Workforce Management can achieve staffing cost savings of 30% or more, while actually increasing performance in areas like call queueing and customer satisfaction.

You can make certain you always have niche skillsets represented among your scheduled staff – and that relevant calls are routed through to those individuals first time.

Finally, you can offer more flexible shifts and schedules, allowing you to have greater capacity in your contact centre at times of peak demand, without wasting resources later in the same shift.