Surviving Call Center Peaks and Valleys, Part 1: Mapping your way toward a solution

Posted: 06/05/2014 - 00:00 | Inova Solutions

I recently read an article by Pete McGarahan, “How to Survive Call Volume Spikes:  A Practical Guide to Successfully Handling Call Volume Peaks and Valleys.”  The article grabbed my attention with its pseudo-superhero introduction, but I was quickly engrossed by the real-world challenges addressed in the rest of the text.

Anyone who works in a call center knows about the peaks and valleys in call volume, “no matter how many Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) you have available, it's impossible to meet the current demand for your services.”  McGarahan makes the logical case that call volume spikes can be either planned or unplanned.  Planned causes include those that you are aware of and can plan for:  typical days, times of days, or planned events that can lead to spikes.  Unplanned events are completely beyond your control:  inclement weather, system outages or failures.  It’s not enough to just know that you have planned and unplanned spikes, though; you need to map those surges and slow periods to see if you can determine patterns.

To really see your patterns, look at a graphical representation of the data from your ACD.  Through your historical data, you can try to identify any patterns of planned and unplanned peaks.  He offers a six-step process for mapping your call center:

  1. Use historical data to graph incoming calls
  2. Graph for a few months to allow you to find patterns and peaks
  3. Identify your peaks and valleys
  4. Filter planned and unplanned call spikes
  5. Analyze your unplanned peaks; identify the root causes

This analysis is just one part of your map.  You also need to determine a route toward efficient management of the peaks and valleys. McGarahan offers some key points in identifying a management, which I’ll discuss in a future post. 


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