Using analytics to predict staff availability in inbound call centres
Predictive diallers help outbound call centres to place more calls and maximise agent activity – but what about inbound call centres that face varying levels of demand at different times of day, week or year?
A new study published in the International Journal of Industrial and Operations Research looks at how predictive modelling can be used to forecast variable demand in inbound call centres, as well as to adjust rostering to take account of predicted staff absences.
The authors write: “Staff rostering is a crucial task in inbound call centres, as personnel costs usually account for the largest share of operating costs.
They add that in many cases, variables like employee absences are not factored into rostering ahead of time.
Decision trees for call centre staff rostering
In their model, the authors propose the use of decision trees to account for absences and adjust rostering accordingly, to meet the levels of call demand at any given time.
“Predictors include characteristics of the service agents such as attendance history and regular working hours as well as other factors such as the weekday,” they explain.
Their predictive model not only accounts for variations in caller demand throughout the day, but also allows for call centre agents having different skill sets, so that there is less risk of lost revenues due to being unable to handle specific types of call.
“Service agents represent human resources and their presence cannot be taken for granted,” they write.
Four steps to contact centre staff rostering
In the paper, the researchers detail a four-step approach to contact centre staff rostering:
- Forecast demand including inbound call volume in specific time intervals
- Determine the minimum number of agents needed to handle call volumes
- Generate shift patterns that ensure specific skills (e.g. languages) are available
- Assign agents to those shifts to create a complete roster
By introducing a fifth step, after the initial rostering and to adjust shifts for predicted staff absences, they suggest that call centres can better meet variation in demand, without leaving calls unanswered.
They note that staff absences can occur for a variety of reasons, not only including health, but also factors like motivation, job satisfaction, and demographic traits like gender.
How MaxContact can help
Getting the right calls to the right people is essential to run an effective and profitable inbound contact centre – and MaxContact can help.
Our inbound channel offers flexibility, to match callers to an agent with the required skills, and also to provide highly configurable IVRs that allow for caller self-service during periods of peak demand, or at any time to reduce demand on your human call agents.
This is combined with features like virtual call queues, which allow customers to hang up and receive a callback when an agent is available – further reducing the risk of abandoned calls at peak times and improving customer satisfaction.
To find out more, call or email our sales team today, or fill in our contact form at the bottom of the homepage and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible to help you get your inbound call centre running efficiently.
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