How to Measure Forecast Accuracy
The Crucial Role of Precise Forecasting for Healthcare Teams
In our fast-moving world, effective and prompt human support has become increasingly vital. Developing a supportive environment that nurtures this approach on a daily basis involves a blend of cultural elements and practical factors, such as determining staffing levels based on anticipated workloads. Accurate forecasting empowers managers to prepare more reliably for the future, allowing support agents to concentrate on delivering outstanding customer experiences without being burdened by a perpetually overflowing work queue.
Forecast accuracy denotes the level of correspondence between predicted support volumes and the actual observed volumes, reflecting the precision with which future demand has been anticipated. You might wonder about the need for volume forecasting, given the inherent unpredictability of human behavior and the inevitable inaccuracies in any forecast. While it is true that no forecast can be entirely faultless, even a slight improvement in forecast accuracy can greatly impact your organization's cost-efficiency since accurate forecasting underlies staffing predictions, which in turn shape hiring strategies and ensure consistent response times.
A successful forecast identifies trends in your incoming patterns, enabling you to methodically plan headcount to satisfy customer demand instead of haphazardly responding to periods of excessive or insufficient work. In reality, a precise forecast of your support team's workload serves as the bedrock of an effective, people-focused support organization. The importance of planning and the stress resulting from inadequate planning should not be underestimated. A consistently understaffed team dealing with a constant backlog will manifest their stress in daily interactions, leading to longer wait times for users and increased idle time for agents.
The goal of forecast accuracy is to pinpoint the ideal balance within the range of potential outcomes, without differentiating between over-projection and under-projection
A 100% forecast accuracy signifies that the exact number of support requests expected during a particular period was received.
Over-projection occurs when the actual support volume falls below expectations. While this can result in shorter response times and potentially more customized support for customers, it may also lead to increased downtime for agents, which can be costly for the organization. Short-term solutions include assigning agents to non-support tasks when volume is low or offering voluntary time off during these periods. Long-term strategies may involve cutting headcount or developing additional projects that are not time-sensitive.
On the other hand, under-projection takes place when the actual support volume surpasses expectations. This can cause extended wait times for users and more transactional, hurried support. For agents, this can result in a high-pressure work environment, especially if the underlying cause is not addressed. Immediate solutions include mobilizing all accessible personnel to manage the backlog, while long-term remedies should concentrate on resolving the root issue, such as increasing staff numbers or partnering with a third-party vendor to help handle demand.
In the end, achieving equilibrium between periods of under- and over-projection can foster a more productive work environment. By leveraging periods of over-projection to implement efficiency enhancements, such as revising FAQs or tackling recurring issues, the team can be better prepared to manage periods of under-projection.