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If your organisation has a reasonable ACD, it’s likely that each call will be logged in the system together with the caller ID (phone number).  You can compare the called ID’s in the abandoned calls with the answered calls.  If a call appears in the abandons first and then later in the answered calls, you can disregard the call as spin.  (Calls that don’t subsequently appear as answered can be dialled out.)  Just as the level of abandons will vary by call centre and call type, so too will the level of spin.  However, in many cases the spin for a given call centre tends to remain fairly consistent as a proportion of the abandon percentage, so if this analysis is particularly difficult it might only be necessary to run it occasionally to sample and then extrapolate.

Now, given actual call volume offered including abandons, you can remove the level of spin from the abandons to arrive at the true underlying volume offered.

Spin volume typically comes back into a call centre later the same day, the next day, and the next, up to typically 3 to 5 days.  This is why in our example call centre the volume did not drop from 100,000 straight to 90,000, but rather had a middle week where 95,000 were offered as the spin volume from the previous week burnt out.  Such a call centre had obviously been experiencing high levels of abandons.

But what about internal spin?  This is usually much harder to analyse unless your transfer routes also provide as much insight as inbound customer volume.  If not, you’ll need to look at your transfers between functions from a time when service levels were being delivered to target and compare them to where you are now.  Such a comparison might well be affected by fluctuations in sales volumes, fault rates, etc, in which cases your own judgement could be your best guide.

So, for our example call centre with 100,000 calls offered every week, if we can remove spin from abandons and internal spin we should arrive at the underlying volume of 90,000 calls per week.

From this it would appear that forecasting (and therefore staffing) at the 90,000 level would be the right thing to do.  The problem with this is that you would then never be able to “get ahead”.  Only by providing too much capacity were we able to take the call spin out of the system.  While overshooting the forecast can be seen as a problem, it is often critical to overshoot capacity to get ahead of the spin.  In our example that just took one week, but it can take longer if call centre pressure has caused agents into errors that cause customers to call back when, for example, they receive their next bill.

The correct series of actions for a successful operation is to calculate the underlying forecast, provide overshot capacity to take out the spin from the system, and employ agents at the right level for the underlying volume.  How you choose temporarily to raise capacity for the spin reduction will depend on your centre and how long you believe it will take to remove it.  You might need to employ more people, use temporary staff, or even (if you are very confident and your people aren’t already burnt out) you could reduce shrinkage to increase capacity.