Tag Archives: Quality Contact Solutions

Important Forecasting Considerations for Inbound Contact Solutions



By Rich Hamilton

The heart and soul of most companies is their inbound contact solutions operation (their inbound call center, including voice, email, text, and chat). This vital department within an organization has an opportunity to get key customer insights, and the call center interactions often make or break the customer relationship.

Have you ever sat on hold, trying to get through to a company, and finally gave up, never to interact with that company again? Making sure your inbound contact solutions operation is properly staffed is important. Whether this is a first impression or an angry customer giving the company one last chance, each inbound contact is vital.

Forecasting call volumes and appropriate staffing and scheduling is critical. Keep in mind that there are some 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 are the key data points used for forecasting and scheduling: call volume, average handle time, absenteeism, service levels, and occupancy rates.

Now that we have 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.

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 are call volume and average handle time. Look at these metrics by day, week, month, and time of day. If possible, instead of just looking at the last couple of months, consider the same period over the last several years. This especially will be helpful in industries where there are seasonal call volume changes (think Christmastime for anyone selling consumer products).

Looking at call volume and average handle time will give a good picture of the number of FTEs you’ll need in your inbound contact solution. This will get you about 80 percent there.

Don’t 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 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 twenty FTEs for Monday. Based on your absenteeism, historically one person calls out sick on Mondays. Wouldn’t it be prudent to schedule twenty-one FTEs on Monday, so that when the one person calls out sick, you still have the right number of call agents to handle the expected call volume?

There are still a few more factors we need to consider to get the whole picture, which we will discuss in the following sections.The heart and soul of most companies is their inbound contact solutions operation (their inbound call center, including voice, email, text, and chat). Click To Tweet

Future Events

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 ordinary.

Marketing and 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 volume.

Weather

This one is tougher, but it 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. Increased snow may mean your absenteeism will be higher than normal, so schedule more employees to cover all the inbound calls.

Other Events

These events could be specific to an industry or a specific group of industries and the amount of calls the call center will receive. It might be a new federal law that affects a certain industry and the volume of calls they will receive. For example, when HIPAA was first implemented, healthcare providers received more calls, and the calls were longer than normal.

Management Expectations

Each call center has specific metrics from management that need to be adhered to. These metrics might include service levels (the percentage of calls to be answered within X amount of time) and occupancy rates (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 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 aren’t consistent.

But you’re still not done. Here are some more considerations to keep in mind as you identify the inputs for forecasting and scheduling for your contact solutions operation.

Human Resources Policies

HR policies concerning required break times and lunchtimes will impact your workforce management and scheduling plan. Obviously, there is a huge difference in scheduling when a call center agent has a thirty-minute lunch versus a sixty-minute lunch. Other HR policies could include union rules that dictate start and stop times for shifts, and possibly when the breaks would need to occur (after so many hours of work).

Agent Skills

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 from department to department.

When scheduling, it’s good to know which call center agents are cross-trained. I’m not 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.

Forecast and Workforce Management Resources

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.

Conclusion

Whether you have access to sophisticated forecasting and workforce management software or you’re working with Excel spreadsheets, you’ll find this aspect of the business is equal parts math and art. In my organization, we often gain a little more flexibility by adding some outbound calls into the queue. This helps justify more staffing while getting a higher occupancy rate.

 

Rich Hamilton is the director of marketing and product development for Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing organization. Rich works to bring new products to the teleservices and call center market. In addition, Rich is a telemarketing compliance guru with a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification. Contact him at rich.hamilton@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5105.

QCS Now Qualified for Government Call Center Contracts

Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) registered as a Federal Contractor, both as a certified woman owned and as a small business enterprise. QCS will qualify for contracts reserved by the government for small businesses (23 percent) and woman-owned businesses (5 percent). Angela Garfinkel, president of QCS, said, “A significant number of our current clients in the private sector have relied on our Woman Owned Business status for many years to ensure their company’s compliance with supplier diversity. Now we’re able to leverage our certifications to qualify for government contracts supporting inbound customer service, help desk, or even market research projects.”

Since its inception in 2007, QCS has continued to be a highly regarded call center organization. This is demonstrated by year-over-year growth since their first year of operation. At their core they are a sales organization specializing in a wide variety of outbound telemarketing and inbound call center programs for large and small clients. QCS also provides associations and non-profits with membership renewal programs.

Dean Garfinkel, chief operating officer, is excited about QCS’s status allowing them to bid for government initiatives. “There are numerous government agencies that rely on call centers to support consumers and business programs on an ongoing basis. From education to healthcare, to disaster recovery, state, local and federal governments must provide call center resources to support their programs utilizing today’s best technologies. It is important to provide communication channels that align with today’s consumer preferences. Whether that is text, voice, email, chat, or web, our state-of-the-art call centers are a great place to cost-effectively provide those services.”

Quality Contact Solutions is a woman-owned call center organization, which conducts high quality, telephone-based outbound marketing and inbound customer service programs for a wide variety of industry verticals. For more information contact Dean Garfinkel at dean@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5115.

Garfinkel Earns Customer Engagement Compliance Professional Certification

Quality Contact Solutions, Inc. announced that Angela Garfinkel, president of Quality Contact Solutions, has earned the Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification through the Professional Association for Customer Engagement.

Garfinkel was part of the first class that was tested and certified in early September 2015. The CECP certification program includes rigorous instruction and testing to ensure the individual has a thorough knowledge of telemarketing regulations (both U.S. and Canada), CAN-SPAM regulations, Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), do-not-track regulations, faxing regulations, and regulations that affect text messages and telephone calls to mobile phone numbers for both sales and non-sales purposes.

“Keeping up with customer engagement compliance is a large part of what we do as a normal part of our daily activity at Quality Contact Solutions. Our clients expect us to be vigilant and up to date with the multitude of vast regulations that concern customer contact. As part of our investment in maintaining our expertise it makes sense to participate in third party certification programs as well as the required continuing education credits,” stated Angela Garfinkel.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Quality Contact Solutions Appoints Director of Sales and Marketing

Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) specializes in B2B telemarketing solutions that achieve sales results. Many Fortune 500 clients rely on QCS’s capabilities and seasoned management team to achieve their inside sales goals. “Our customers want to leverage our core competencies to supplement their internal teams, thereby meeting their goals,” explained Megan Fallis, QCS’s new director of sales and marketing.

“B2B inside sales teams have been growing at an average of 35 to 50 percent per year for the last five years. Large and small companies have found that the our services are a cost-effective way to augment sales support to existing accounts, and to prospect for and acquire new accounts without the challenges of hiring, training, plus the necessary layers of compliance and technology” added Angela Garfinkel, president.

Megan will be responsible for growing the company’s internal sales team and developing new business opportunities for the company’s B2B telemarketing organization and the company’s enhanced local Caller ID business unit, which helps increase outbound calling answer rates.

Megan joins QCS after fifteen years as the marketing and OTM manager for one of the top healthcare providers in the USA. Her experience overseeing multiple campaigns across a large vendor network provides QCS clients with a unique set of unparalleled skills that will effectively achieve sales results.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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Quality Contact Solutions Achieves Level 1 PCI DSS Compliance

Quality Contact Solutions, Inc. (QCS), a call center solutions and telemanagement provider, announced that its operation is certified as Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. The organization recently underwent a stringent audit by CompliancePoint, an independent Quality Security Assessor to ensure that it meets industry best practices and security controls required to keep credit card data and sensitive information safe and secure during transmission, processing, and storage.

The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is the most rigorous industry-recognized payment-card security standard available globally. PCI DSS is designed to minimize the exposure of credit card data to risk of fraud or compromise. Although the PCI standard is more commonly associated with merchant activities, call centers that capture sensitive data must also follow stringent security protocols before their operations are deemed safe for capturing consumer information.

“We’re excited to add PCI DSS compliance to our call center operations portfolio,” said Angela Garfinkel, QCS president. “Clients can count on our team to capture credit card information in a secure and efficient manner – in both our internal at-home call center and with our subcontracted call centers. We would like to acknowledge CompliancePoint’s guidance for helping our company achieve this milestone.”

“QCS’s achievement of v2.0 standard PCI DSS recognizes adherence to rigid standards of protecting consumer information and ensuring strict process and policy enforcement,” states Jerry Wyble, vice president and general manager of CompliancePoint’s Information Security practice group.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Quality Contact Solutions Expands and Adds New Position

Angela Garfinkel, president of Quality Contact Solutions (QCS), welcomes Rich Hamilton as its director of implementation and team improvement leader. This new position is an essential component of QCS’s growth strategy. “We have experienced significant growth in 2012 which led us to evaluate where we needed additional human capital. Rich’s past experiences and his out of the box thinking will help us embrace new technologies, techniques and processes that will enable all of us to be more effective for our customers, both new and existing,” remarked Angela.

Mr. Hamilton will oversee the implementation of all new programs as well as managing the continuous improvement process of existing programs. In addition he will be responsible for overseeing all training and employee development efforts. One of our core principles is a commitment to enhanced training for all of our employees, at every level within our organization.

Rich comes to QCS with eight years of experience working in and managing a variety of mid to large call centers. His career began as so many in our industry, as a call center agent. After finishing his degree, Rich was drawn back to the contact center industry and worked his way up through several different positions. Through Rich’s creativity and ability to lead, he has successfully managed the implementation of various new technologies, processes, procedures, and projects. Rich has successfully integrated social media into the contact center, reducing FTE’s, producing real ROI for clients. Rich has a B.S. in Business Management with an emphasis in Marketing.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Quality Contact Solutions Celebrates Anniversary

Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) is celebrating its five year anniversary as a leading telemanagement solutions provider for the contact center industry. Founded in 2007 by Angela Morris, with the mission to “make every contact count,” QCS has enjoyed consistent growth, expanding its core competencies to include a wide array of call center and telemarketing solutions, for clients desiring managed outsourcing as a business strategy. In addition QCS has become a supplier of multiple performance enhancing technologies, evolving from a one person business to an international enterprise.

Angela Morris, president and founder of QCS and a 25 year industry veteran, set the company in motion with an innovative approach to delivering performance for clients. Her execution and vision have proved to be that successful formula. In late 2010, Dean Garfinkel joined the QCS team as partner and COO, expanding the company’s technology offerings delivering new innovative solutions which enhance telemarketing performance. New solutions include QualityCallerID.com and the management of the American Teleservices Association’s (ATA) online DNC Regulatory Guide which has been touted as the “industry bible” for teleservices regulatory guide compliance since 2003.

Phil Grudzinski, CEO of the American Teleservices Association called Angela to congratulate her personally on the milestone. “QCS has been an advocate of the industry and has led by example. I congratulate the company and its employees on their success.”

“We are proud to celebrate five years of growth and service to our clients,” said QCS president Angela Morris. “Our continued success is a direct result of our talented and dedicated staff. It’s been an incredible experience watching our company grow and I look forward to future successes.”

QCS specializes in telemanagement, call center consulting, at-home call center solutions, an enhanced Caller ID solution which provides local phone numbers to call centers to use for Caller ID when dialing outbound telemarketing campaigns, and online regulatory guide solutions.   QCS’s staff is comprised of highly experienced personnel with call center management backgrounds.

Angela Morris currently serves as ATA Midwest chapter board of director and marketing chair. Dean Garfinkel currently serves the ATA as treasurer and national board of director. Quality Contact Solutions, Inc. is a WMBE enterprise with federal status.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Angela Morris Awarded Customer Engagement Professional Designation

Quality Contact Solutions announced that Angela Morris, president of Quality Contact Solutions (QCS), has been awarded the designation of Customer Engagement Professional from the American Teleservices Association (ATA).   The Customer Engagement Professional designation is the culmination of Ms. Morris’ involvement in the ATA at both the national and chapter levels.  Ms. Morris frequently speaks at industry events on call center performance improvement, productivity, and compliance.  She is also certified as an ATA Self Regulatory Organization auditor.  Ms. Morris has been an ATA member since 1992 and was a founding member of the ATA Midwest Chapter board where she currently serves as marketing chair.

As a recognized industry leader with more than 20 years of experience, Angela views the Customer Engagement Professional designation as a valuable program that will encourage education, participation, and leadership within the call center and teleservices industries.  She noted, “I am fortunate to work throughout the call center industry with some exceptionally talented and dedicated people.  Often-times those people are not formally recognized.  The Customer Engagement Professional designation gives professionals at all levels within an organization an opportunity to work towards and attain formal recognition.”

Learn more at www.qualitycontactsolutions.com.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Quality Contact Solutions Expands At-Home Call Center Operations

Angela Morris, president of Quality Contact Solutions (QCS) announced the expansion of QCS At Home, the work-from-home call center solution.  “Answering the local communities’ call regarding the closing of two call centers in Nebraska, we had the unique opportunity to hire some very experienced business to business telephone sales professionals expanding our At Home team.  These professionals will continue to conduct business for some of the same clients they have worked with for years,” stated Nathan Teahon, director of operations for Quality Contact Solutions.  “It has been a win-win-win solution for the employees, the local community and the clients.”

QCS At Home was formed in the spring of 2010 to expand QCS Telemanagement’s capabilities for program development and testing by creating an At Home environment staffed with true veteran professions.  “We found many new client programs required a high degree of hands-on program development and incubation before being migrated to one of QCS partners via our telemanagement model,” stated Morris.

The at-home management team has all the same capabilities that any brick and mortar call center manager would have.  All training is conducted using Web-enabled learning sessions.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

Dean Garfinkel Joins Quality Contact Solutions

Angela Morris, President of Quality Contact Solutions (QCS), is pleased to welcome Dean Garfinkel as her new company partner.  As his first order of business, Garfinkel will expand the technology solutions available to their call center clients.

In addition, Morris and Garfinkel will soon be announcing a host of new, innovative call center technology solutions that will fall under the QCS umbrella.  “Our new technology-driven products will ensure our clients have access to leading edge contact solutions,” said Morris.  “QCS offers unparalleled experience and capabilities, and Dean adds a whole new layer to the organization that our customers will appreciate.”

Well-known within the telecommunications and teleservices industries, Garfinkel has more than 30 years experience in a wide-range of technologies.  He also invented TeleBlock®, a patented call routing system, which has become a national telecom standard.  He is a leading expert on telecommunications, caller ID and do not call compliance, and is a regular speaker within the industry circuit.  Garfinkel is a member of the national board of directors of the American Teleservices Association and was instrumental in developing and implementing the Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO).

For more information, please visit qualitycontactsolutions.com.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]