The Dreaded Camel Hump 🐫
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Hello, workforce world! We all have experienced or know about that dreaded call center camel hump lol… we still live in a world where the majority of the corporate world works and would like to work the standard wish list 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday shifts J.. however, as businesses evolve as well as technology ... your hours of operations are expanding, and businesses need to be more flexible to meet their customer needs across multiple age generations like the baby boomers/generation X and Millennials.
I have worked in a few call centers, and the arrival patterns of voices calls tend to be fairly static or typical, and this is what causes that dreaded camel hump ... where you have to staff up your mornings heavily to meet that big morning spike in volume ... however, to cover your ever-expanding operating hours... you have to ensure a balance in your workforce to meet that same spike in call volume that occurs at night. Also, we all tend to like a continuous shift... we run into that "Dreaded camel hump problem" where you have a huge overlap in the staffing, and your early afternoon to late afternoon is so overstaffed, and you are burning money??!!! Well, what can you do about it????
Below are some good suggestions:
1. Split shifts
2. Voluntary early leave (VEL)
3. Workforce Optimization Software Suite
4. Alternative platforms like Social Media and Web Chat
5. Work from home agents ** 5G and easy to get jump on's
Topics in detail
#1- Split shifts
Split shifts are a great way to reduce the overlap in a call center camel hump situation; however, from my experience, they are not highly desired and have very low uptake. So most organizations... like this idea... but are generally disappointed on how ineffective it is ... when only a few agents tend to pick or want them.
#2 - Voluntary early leave (VEL) / Leave without pay (LWP)
VEL and LWP is a very effective way to reduce costs and can be done by line of sight (queue monitoring) or a pricier, but a very effective option is to buy or add on within your existing (WF) software a (WFO) workforce optimization suite. A WFO suite is something wonderful and works fantastic if the quality of your data and arrivals patterns is super accurate and updated consistently. If you do not have a budget for this ... you can accomplish the same via excel but for both solutions. Keep in mind "Garbage in, and you will get garbage out," so updating your call arrival data, weekly call distribution, and all other metrics and variables is !!Super!! important!
#3 - Workforce Optimization Software Suite! Pricey but they are very effective and offer amazing interactive options that increase employee satisfaction and engagement.
(WFO) suites offer many great features like apps that your agents can automatically apply for early or unpaid leave. These requests can either be manually approved by your intraday/real-time analysts and/or rules you can customize that can be triggered automatically by the software suite based on your ACD data like service levels and predicted staffing surpluses or shortages. These suites can also offer targeted training during those slow times when agents are not applying for early leave to keep your occupancy high by reducing idle time. Again, with this solution, it's also only as effective as the data that feeds to it. It can be highly effective and reduce your need for extra workforce manpower. This solution only works well if it's set up correctly and if the data that feeds into it is super accurate and constantly re-trended.
# 3 (B) To expand on my earlier point ... you do not need an expensive WFO suite to optimize your call center and reduce costs... but I still highly recommend one. If you can't afford it ... you can accomplish the same so long as you constantly update call distribution patterns, Call arrival patterns, and all other workforce metrics. For example, if your input data is solid, you can make excel sheets that can calculate the FTE Staffing you will need by interval, and you can predict where you can offer early leave in advance. The best solution would be to create scheduled export files from your ACD (Automated call distributor) and have that data feed into an excel sheet via SQL scripts that can constantly update your weekly call distribution, Call arrival patterns, Shrink, etc. and with simple FTE requirements formulas .. you can calculate staffing needed per interval in excel, and you can have your real-time intraday analyst's use that to offer things like early leave or overtime or even a full shift off to reduce your staffing costs. Also, suppose you consistently do a morning or evening reforecast and update your input variables. In that case, your forecasting and FTE deltas will be more reliable and can be done accurately same day.
*** This is very important "Garbage data in and you get Garbage data out"!! trending should be consistent and done every 6 to 8 weeks at minimum or even tighter during peak season or major launches or email or bill cycles like 2-3 weeks and even daily. ****
Topic #4 – (Social Media and Web Chat Platforms) for your young more tech-savvy millennial customer base
Social Media and Chat is a great way and a new alternative to target your millennial customer base. My experience shows that Social media is an evening-heavy arrival pattern platform, and it is a great way to redirect your voice call volume. It requires less of a workforce to handle these interactions .. as they can have a much longer or broader answer threshold. In the social media world, they call this (TAR) time to average response. You can set this to whatever you want... 10/15/30 minutes for someone to respond to a post within your public and private social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and other emerging platforms. Social Media is a stop-and-go interaction experience… your millennial customer base has a narrow attention span J lol... they just want to send a message and are more than willing to wait for a response ... so long as they accomplish the same results as calling in. It also requires minimal effort on their end, so they have more time to watch the game of thrones or catch Pokémon's J.
Webchat tends to follow the same arrivals patterns as voice calls but can gain you impressive efficiency if your customer database and transaction systems can support multiple sessions. ** This is very important ** before you invest in a chat platform … be sure to check that your legacy systems can handle multiple records searches and transactions. Webchat is also a very friendly Millennial and Generation X alternative that can dramatically reduce your call center cost per call/interaction.
Topic #5 - Work from home agents.
This one is a great one folks…while it may be costly to set up, technology is evolving constantly ** Like 5G** and not only will it save you money on real-estate space ... but most agents will already have their own WIFI connections and or it can be provided for them as part of the role or at a discount or subsidy. The reason why work-from-home options are so great! You can get jump on's quickly and engage your agents and offer overtime without the need for them to drive 1-2 hours just to get to the center to assist in a significant spike or unforeseen demand in volume. The uptake rate on work from home agents is HUGE and has great potential to save you money over the long term (ROI) and can help kill the camel hump problem ..very effectively.