Bank holidays and the festive period are days we all look forward to. However Resource Planners will know they have careful work to do to ensure that customer satisfaction remains high and service level agreements (SLA) are met. You are likely to be currently developing plans to cover the day and its fluctuating customer demand. Here is our handy top ten tips checklist to help support you as you plan for any bank holiday.
1. Review your opening hours. Will your operation be open on the bank holiday and if so, what will your opening hours be? If they will be different to normal, ensure your telecoms team are aware so the opening hours of lines can be adjusted. Open and proactive communication will ensure that all support teams are aware and can prepare for your contact centre's situation. Don't forget to let your customers know the change in operating hours too!
2. Factors that will impact your average handling time. Prepare your forecasts, and then review available systems or support and calculate if any of these changes will impact your average handling time (AHT). Will the change in staff or support have an effect on the week after the bank holiday for which you need to plan? We offer these points to help focus your thinking:
- Which systems, 'back-office' or support departments may not be working?
- Will their unavailability impact your AHTs and the potential for you to resolve customer contacts? Or will you need to adjust the number of agents on shift?
- And finally will unresolved contacts mean that there is a spike in demand or administration on the days following the bank holiday?
Understanding demand and the impact of your internal organisational constraints will mean you are able to develop a holistic proactive response for work on the day while effectively managing the subsequent week.
3. Produce a long range forecast in your workforce management tool. Do you have previous bank holiday actuals saved? Why not use this data as a base line and then you can adjust the call volumes as necessary. Take time to consider any changes you have identified in normal AHTs, and update your long range forecast so your required demand is based on accurate data. Blending historic data with current statistics ensures that your teams have the most potential for success.
4. Do you need additional staff? Based on the operational headcount required from your forecast, will you be able to staff your operation through volunteers, or will you need to enforce contractual obligations for the bank holiday? Asking early for volunteers enables a more positive interaction and provides warning to others if they might be needed.
5. Update your workforce management tool with the revised schedules. Once you have identified who will be working the bank holiday, ensure their hours are updated into your workforce management tool. Preparing data and ensuring your system is up to date reduces the chance of errors and ensures links to payroll and other systems are effective.
6. Run break and shift optimiser strategies. Once the bank holiday week is processed into your workforce management tool, it is best practice to run the break and shift optimiser strategies. Using the optimiser strategy means you are able to make small adjustments to available staff shifts and maximise the contribution each person can make to your team meeting or exceeding SLAs.
7. Postpone or reschedule activities. Making the most effective use of available staff over the bank holiday is good for customers and team morale. This may mean postponing and rescheduling activities until after the bank holiday in order to ensure that performance meets the desired SLAs.
8. Review your use of call backs or outsourced calls. Manage potential queues and reduce customer frustration. The visibility and control that a call back solution, such as Netcall's QueueBuster,offers means that if you are a user, you can ensure you have the capacity to manage queues via call backs.
- You need to review your Divert/Reschedule 'What if' report in addition to optimising and adjusting shifts and call backs to support your SLAs.
- Alternatively if you are outsourcing some of your calls, use the Divert/Reschedule 'What if' report to provide anticipated call volumes to your outsourcer. Do check their service and availability are as you expect!
9. Consider strategies for higher than expected demand. What if the call volume on the bank holiday is busier than forecasted? Think about other tactical options such as any back office staff or team leaders taking calls. Alternative use of a few extra people is likely to make the difference and allow you to achieve your SLAs.
10. Save your bank holiday call profile for future use. After the bank holiday, review what went well and what requires improvement. Make notes, circulate them to the team leaders for comments and begin the plan for the next bank holiday. Finally do not forget to save the bank holiday call profile in your workforce management tool for future bank holidays.
It is a learning journey where every experience is able to support your next step. Bank holidays may introduce uncertainty and a need for careful planning. Balancing the demand takes careful tactics as they might bring additional revenue, while releasing team members to their families boosts morale. Our team is here to help you get the most from your workforce management investment. Should you have any questions about planning for the bank holiday please do get in touch.