Six Remedies for a Dire Forecast (11th Jun, 2014)

Part I

Alarms are going off, red lights flashing, and smoke fills the air – okay maybe it’s not this dramatic, but a forecast mishap in the back office can feel a bit like an apocalyptic movie scene. When a dire forecasting emergency slams your back office, do you have a strategy to save the day?

This three part series will offer solutions and measures to put in place so you can respond quickly and accurately to back office staffing emergencies. Everything from poorly planned marketing initiatives, to a bad back office work plan, to shifting regulatory requirements, or a comet heading straight for your office can disrupt your smooth operation. Be prepared to respond at a moment’s notice.

The first two pieces of your attack plan are about readying your people. This requires that you minimize your skills gap, and enlist allies in case of an emergency.

Attack Your Skills Gap

A sophisticated back office solution allows you to track your employees’ unique skill sets and schedule accordingly. You will have the insight to see what skill areas need bulking up and what shifts are thin on a high demand knowledge base.

Strike here by knowing who to hire and who to entice with longer hours, overtime, comp days or other incentives. This is why it’s important to include each work type in the forecast, and carefully examine whether the shortfall is coming from a particular category. Hire new employees with the goal of supporting your weak areas, and reflect this assessment when training existing staff.

Enlist Help Close to Home

If your back office has a strong working relationship with the contact center, consider setting up a deal where you can ask for an extra hand or two during an abnormally high workload period; it’s often possible to allocate some work units to customer-facing contact center agents. This blended work model offers greater flexibility to the company as well as to the employees.

The high-pressure scenario of a poor forecast may sound like an inopportune time to experiment with staffing models. Keep in mind that necessity is the mother of invention. Both contact center and back office departments are entrusted with the customer experience, and collaboration is one of the surest ways to deliver consistently high quality service and earn client loyalty. Look for ways to support each other if possible.

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