How harnessing data takes your forecasting to the next level

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One of the most precious resources any contact centre outsourcer has is time. For many companies, however, trying to create as much of this as possible while still delivering a quality service to their clients can prove to be a major challenge.

A key reason for this is that contact centre outsourcing is a very agile industry. Unlike in-house alternatives, where demand can often be predicted and planned for ahead of time as they are focusing on a single company, outsourcers have to juggle the needs of several clients at once, each with their own unique demands on an outsourcer’s time.

With multiple campaigns in progress at any one moment, being able to accurately forecast demand and allocate resources appropriately is a must. However, this is often an area where businesses struggle to be effective.

Swamped with data

One of the biggest problems is that the volume of information available to outsourcers far outstrips the capabilities of their systems. In many cases, firms will still be heavily reliant on tried and tested solutions such as spreadsheets for their demand planning. But in today’s data-rich environment, these tools are simply unable to cope.

As well as being unable to process the deluge of information fast enough, spreadsheets have other drawbacks that make them a poor tool for forecasting. For instance, they are usually only able to work off only historical data, which may not necessarily give the best indication of future demand, while they are also typically unable to factor in issues like shrinkage, which can lead to projections being highly inaccurate.

Despite these weaknesses, more than nine out of ten business process outsourcers admit that spreadsheets are still an integral part of their planning and forecasting, according to figures from the Aberdeen Group. A study by the organisation also revealed that six out of ten companies reported problems such as errors caused by the need to manually input data, while almost half (49 per cent) said they had encountered problems with outdated, inaccurate information.

All this means that forecasting is more often than not based on guesswork and assumptions that what was true in the past will remain true in the future. However, in today’s constantly evolving environment, this is rarely the case.

The right tools to improve your forecasting

Therefore, having strong technology solutions in place that can harness all this data and interpret it correctly will be vital to strong forecasting. This will be particularly valuable to outsourcers, as they will be able to more accurately predict periods of high demand when they will need all available resources, as well as helping them make preparations for what they can be doing in quieter periods to ensure agents are not sitting idle.

Today’s predictive analytics tools can be combined with advanced workforce management (WFM) solutions to ensure that opportunities are spotted as early as possible. The volume and variety of data available means that it will be impossible to effectively analyse this using spreadsheets alone.

By moving to advanced analytics and management tools, vital forecasting activities can be conducted much more quickly, helping outsourcers create time that can translate directly into improved profitability and a high level of service.

Find out more about how the right technology solutions can help contact centre outsourcers create more time.