most people hear the word “gig” they think of musicians or a musical
performance, and rightly so. Although hard to determine, the word “gig”
was thought to originate as slang among musicians and professional
performers to describe a paying engagement they had agreed to do. The
word first showed up in print in a London publication called Melody
Maker in 1926. According to the Worldwide Words website, the word gig
today refers to any short-term, paying job or commission that is not
associated with full-time employment.
best example of a gig worker today is the Uber driver. Uber drivers are
independent contractors who drive their own car and choose their own
hours. They work as much or as little as they want and are essentially
self-employed free-lancers working a “gig” for Uber.
there a place for gig workers in the contact center? That’s one of the
things we wanted to explore in our latest survey of end-users. Like
Uber drivers, we assumed gig agents or workers in the contact center
would work the hours they wanted to after undergoing appropriate
training. They would be independent freelance contractors to the
contact center and would supply their own equipment for their home
this basic information we put the question of gig agents to our
research participants and were surprised to discover that the idea of
gig agents is very familiar to some, and not out of the realm of
possibility for many others. Figure 1 below illustrates responses to
the question of whether or not the respondent contact center would
consider gig agents for their business.
Figure 1: Potential Acceptance of Gig Agents in the Contact Center Industry
There is a lot more to the idea of gig agents that we originally
thought there would be. As a result, we’ll be exploring this topic in a
on October 30th at 12 noon Eastern time. We’ll be joined by researchers
from Aspect, who will share the results of a recent project they
undertook to better understand the gig economy. I hope you’ll join us
to learn about what is poised to be a major, disruptive trend in the
global contact center industry. Webinar registration can be found here. See you on the 30th!
Important Forecasting Considerations For Inbound Contact Solutions
It’s said that the heart and soul of most companies is their
Inbound Contact Solutions
operation (also known as an inbound call center). This vital department
with an organization has an opportunity to get key customer insights
and the call center interactions often make or break the customer
note: When I refer to inbound contacts, I’m talking about inbound voice
contacts plus the other non-voice contacts that contact centers are
responsible for handling, including email, text and chat.
you ever sat on hold, trying to call a company and finally gave up,
never to interact with that company again? Making sure that your
Inbound Contact Solutions operation is properly staffed is super
important. Whether this is a first impression or an angry customer that
is giving the company one last chance, each inbound contact can be
your call volumes and appropriate staffing/scheduled of your workforce
is extremely important. Keep in mind that there are some very
sophisticated algorithms used to forecast call volume and the needed
workforce to answer those calls. I’ll focus more on the data that needs
to be considered. Here is a list of the key data points used for
forecasting and scheduling: Key Data Points for Inbound Contact Solutions Forecasting and Scheduling • Call volume • Average Handle Time • Absenteeism • Service Levels • Occupancy Levels
that we have list listed the key data points, let’s break these down
and look at a few other considerations for workforce forecasting and
planning for any inbound call center operation.
Inbound Contact Solutions Historical Data Data
is King! The best place to start is with data from the past. The more
data you can get your hands on, the better. The key metrics to focus on
will be call volume and average handle time. Look at these metrics by
day, week, month and definitely time of day. If possible, instead of
just looking at the last couple of months, look at the same time period
over the last several years. This will help especially in industries
where there are seasonal call volume changes (think Christmas time for
anyone selling consumer products).
at call volume and average handle time will give you a real good
picture on the number of FTEs you will need in your inbound contact
solution. This will get you about 80% there. There are still a few more
factors that we will need to take into consideration in order to get
the whole picture, which we will discuss in the following sections.
forget to look at absenteeism. You will need to know what percentage of
your workforce may call out sick on a given day. This can be very hard
to forecast but with enough data, at least you can forecast more
precisely. For example, let’s say your call center needs to staff 20
FTEs for Monday. Based on your absenteeism, historically 1 person calls
out sick on Mondays. Wouldn’t it be prudent to schedule 21 FTEs on
Monday, so that when the 1 person calls out sick, you still have the
right number of call agents to handle the expected call volume?
Future Events That Impact Inbound Contact Solutions Planning Not
only do you need to look at metrics from the past, but you also need to
look at any events happening in the future that are out of the
Marketing/Other Company Initiatives
– The Marketing Department might plan to send out an email announcing a
new product or a new promotion that they predict will increase call
– This one could be tougher, but this could affect you in a couple
different ways. One would be if your industry relies on the weather.
Maybe there will be extra snow forecasted over the next month and your
call center takes ski resort reservations. The other way is how it
affects your employees. Maybe increased snow means that your
absenteeism will be higher than is normal. So, more employees will need
to be scheduled to cover all the inbound calls.
– These events could be specific to an industry or only affect a
specific group of industries and the amount of calls the call center
will receive. One example could be a new federal law being passed that
will affect a certain industry and the volume of calls they will
receive. For example, when HIPAA was first implemented, I’m sure
healthcare providers received more calls and the calls were longer than
Management Expectations for your Inbound Contact Solutions Operation Each
call center will have specific metrics from management that need to be
adhered to. These metrics will include service levels (percentage of
calls to be answered within X amount of time) and occupancy levels (the
percentage of time actively working on calls including talk time and
after call work time). The higher the service level required, the more
call center agents will be needed to answer phone calls. Higher
occupancy levels mean you won’t need as many call center agents, but it
also means agents will burn out faster and sometimes it is difficult to
achieve higher occupancy levels and higher service levels if the call
volumes are not consistent.
Other Considerations for Proper Forecasting Methodology in Your Contact Solutions Operation And
here are a few other considerations to keep in mind as you identify the
inputs for forecasting and scheduling for your contact solutions
Human Resources Policies:
HR policies like required break and lunch times will impact your
workforce management and scheduling plan. Obviously, there is a huge
difference in scheduling when a call center agent has a 30-minute lunch
versus a 60-minute lunch. HR policies which we would include union
rules could dictate start and stop times for shifts, and possibly when
the breaks would need to occur (after so many hours of work).
If your call center has multiple departments, this adds another level
of complexity. Calculating call volume and average handle time along
with the other considerations will have to be done for each department
because the skill required will vary most times vary from department to
department. Call center agents that are cross trained is good to know
when scheduling. Not that I am saying that you can count a call center
agent for both departments if they are trained for both, but at times
when one department is slow, and another is busy, knowing that a few
agents can help with the overflow is helpful for scheduling.
Forecast and Workforce Management Resources:
In my career, I have managed inbound contact solutions operations that
were very large and very small. Typically, the larger the organization,
the larger the budget for workforce management software and systems.
Smaller inbound contact solutions operations typically get by with
spreadsheets and elbow grease.
you have access to sophisticated forecasting and workforce management
software or you’re working with Excel spreadsheets, you’ll find this
part of the business is equal parts math and art. In my organization,
we often get a little more flexibility by adding some outbound calls
into the queue. This helps justify more staffing while getting a higher
is the Director of Marketing & Product Development for Quality
Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing organization.
Rich works tirelessly to bring new products to the teleservices and
call center market. Rich is also the creative powerhouse behind
executing on a wide spectrum of marketing initiatives for the
organization. In addition, Rich is a telemarketing compliance guru with
a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification to
back it up. Rich can be reached at email@example.com or 516-656-5105.
Employee Engagement Will Continue to Reign In 2019
we conducted our year-end interviews with members of the NACC at the
end of 2017, we discovered an emerging trend that was poised to be a
dominant movement in 2018. That trend was Employee Engagement and
results of our most recent research work points to employee engagement
continuing to be a driving industry factor as we progress toward 2019.
2019 Saddletree Research survey of end-users, conducted in conjunction
with the NACC, sought to quantify the importance of employee engagement
in the global contact center market. The results of our question
regarding the importance of employee engagement relative to their
contact centers’ overall operational strategy are illustrated in Figure
Figure 3: Importance of Employee Engagement in 2019
On November 8th at 1 p.m. Eastern time, I will be speaking in a
that addresses the evolution of employee engagement in the contact
center, and its importance to the future of the industry given
generational issues, shifts, and preferences. For more information and
to register to join me in this webinar, please click
Another webinar alert!
OpenText Qfiniti will be conducting a series of three webinars
beginning on October 30th. The topic of these webinars will be the
benefits of an intraday management mobile app. Mobile apps will only
increase in importance as the most connect generation in history
becomes the majority of workers in the contact center and in industry
as a whole.
More details about this webinar series and registration to attend can be found
Call Center Comics
If you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com or
just click on the comic to tak you to his page. The NACC appreciates
Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
In This Issue...
Gig Economy & Contact Center
Employee Engagement: Important Trend
Call Center Comics!
Pearls Of Wisdom
greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
Reports From NACC
NACC has been burning the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are
sore to bring out reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you
are interested to see what we are writing about, click on the links
below and download the executive summary of each. If you like what you
see, join the NACC so that you can view these reports and others that
will be coming out soon on our website. These reports will ensure that
you know the latest trends in the industry.