Improving call center service level can have a huge impact on your service quality. It can positively affect the reputation and the overall bottom line of your business. Service level is an important KPI for your contact center. When you measure, monitor and optimize it continuously you are on the right way to ensure you’re delivering a good customer service experience.
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More so, setting and achieving service level targets enables you to execute and maintain an efficient staffing strategy based on maximizing productivity and reducing cost.
Service level provides a good indicator of a contact center’s overall customer service accessibility and its ability to plan and schedule staff accordingly. Therefore, it’s one of the most basic but crucial call center performance metrics.
Achieving and optimizing service level is a major concern for call centers since it is closely tied to customer service quality/accessibility, operational efficiency as well as overall business performance.
Knowing how to calculate, report on and interpret service level surely is indispensable for any CC professional. But that’s just the start. Achieving service level targets effectively depends on your understanding of what drives service level. Furthermore, you can optimize this KPI, like any other in your contact center, by learning about the strategies and tactics that have a positive impact on service level.
In this first article, we present 2 out of 5 proven ways to help you as a planner or WFM professional to improve service level in your contact center.
Optimize your workforce management process
Successful workforce management (WFM) is key to achieving service level consistently in your contact center. It involves forecasting, scheduling, real-time or intraday management as well as reporting. WFM ensures you have the right people with the right skills at the right time and place to deliver the best possible service.
A streamlined workforce management process can have a fundamental impact on core KPIs and the overall bottom-line of your contact center. It helps you increase operational efficiency by maximizing productivity while reducing cost and allowing for optimal staffing. The latter is key to ensure you’re able to hit service level targets.
In fact, understaffing leads to longer waiting times and a decline in service level. Overstaffing results in an increase in service level, but at an unnecessary cost.
To optimize your WFM process, consider the following approaches:
- Identify efficiency gaps in your internal process (e.g. staffing levels, break optimization, intraday adjustments, etc)
- Develop a workforce management strategy or rework your existing strategy to focus on goals that aligns with your call center objectives
- Have a person or team in place dedicated to workforce management exclusively
- Evaluate your current tools (Excel, WFM software, etc) and consider new technologies to help you execute your strategy
Optimizing your WFM can be complex. The good news is that there are technology solutions out there to support you. There are planning tools like spreadsheets (e.g. Excel), but they fall short on covering the entire workforce management process. WFM technology enables you to automate and optimize all the steps in the process of improving your service level.
>> Check out this post on 10 WFM technology features you need to improve service level
Improve your forecast accuracy
Forecasting is an essential first step in your workforce management process and a key ingredient to achieving service level. Often contact centers struggle to meet service level because the forecast is inaccurate. Forecasting involves demand planning based on historical data such as call (contact) volumes and average handling time (AHT), which are used to predict future workload.
An accurate forecast depends on your ability:
- To identify patterns in your historical data
- To consider upcoming events such as marketing campaigns/promotions
- To account for holidays and seasonal fluctuations
However, forecasting is both art and science. Even experienced analysts and planners struggle with forecast accuracy.
Here are some approaches to improve your forecast accuracy:
- Get the data right ("Garbage in, garbage out")
- Factor in your business intelligence
- Learn from past mistakes
- Understand the drivers of demand
- Use the right tools
To make your life easier, forecasting solutions can help and are often covered in the feature scope of a WFM system. With machine learning and AI-powered technologies, planners are empowered to generate forecasts with weekly, monthly and yearly patterns at the push of a button without sacrificing accuracy.
Given a solid integration with your ACD that fuels your forecast with data in real-time, you’re in the driver’s seat to boost forecast accuracy even for multi-channel environments. Eventually, you can create better schedules by effectively matching demand with supply to ensure you’re hitting SL targets consistently.
Learn about 3 more tactics to improve contact center service level in this article.
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Originally published on Feb 18, 2020, updated on Mar 11, 2021.
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