80: Forecasting in Support with Ash Rhodes

80: Forecasting in Support with Ash Rhodes

Ash Rhodes and I eventually get to the point in this conversation! We talk about how it’s okay to have some margin of error in your forecast, because there’s always more to do in Support.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello and welcome to Episode 80 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward

The theme for this week is forecasting so stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic so we’re doing forecasting fast right right we’ll go boom boom we’ll keep this quite rapid because I’m gonna I

Ash Rhodes 0:39
Nobody believes you Charlotte, not a single person anywhere.

Charlotte Ward 0:43
Well, that’s not fair. That’s not fair. This only happens with you and Matt Dale mostly you Yeah, I’m able to contain Matt Dale somewhat but only by like, a smaller force of will Yeah, something like that. I started talking to him about the speed limits in Windsor Great Park at one point I’ll tell you that another time again to that we will not

Ash Rhodes 1:04
We’re 20 seconds into this already like

Charlotte Ward 1:06
not telling you not telling you I’ll tell you what,

Ash Rhodes 1:09
go on

Charlotte Ward 1:10
with with the speed limits or with the podcast?

Ash Rhodes 1:12
No! with the podcast, daffy

Charlotte Ward 1:16
Right. I like to welcome back to the podcast today Ash Rhodes Ash, it’s lovely to have you back again. The topic for this week is forecasting in support.

Ash Rhodes 1:25
Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate the invitation. You know, you asked me to to come and talk about this. And I immediately had a little bit of a chuckle because to me, it is educated guessing for a lot of cases. I mean, it is very well educated, but it is still a kind of guessing you’re making a gamble that all of your previous experiences with other companies is going to stay the same and that you’ll be able to base your hiring decisions and your firing decisions off of that previous experience. And of course, I mean, man, talk about interesting times that we live in, we could not more perfectly demonstrate that that rule books get tossed out the window every single day.

Charlotte Ward 2:13
I think you’re right. I think that, particularly in a new role, where you have potentially very little context, you might have the data, you might have a tool that is able to show you historic ticket trends or whatever. But you do want to bring to bear all of your previous leadership experiences in other organisations you’ve worked with, and you have to make some assumptions about what might still hold true and what might not still hold true.

Ash Rhodes 2:39
For one thing, yes, you’re totally right about all of that. And I want to kind of throw in that, in addition to personal experience, I think that especially if you’re just starting out in a new role, you want to also kind of grab hold of all of the experience that is available to you from your stakeholders. If you see data that is showing x&y, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and say this is showing that we’re going to be facing said, Is that accurate? They may not have all of the exact experience that you do as the domain expert, but they at least will have some insight in your specific company. I think that you’re probably right. I mean, that’s really what staffing is all about, no matter what is dealing with margins of error, and being willing to continue to pay people to one up their skills. Ideally, if you are wanting to keep them, I’m blanking on a less crude term than balls to the wall busy

Charlotte Ward 3:37
noses to the grindstone

Ash Rhodes 3:39
noses to the grindstone, thank you, I knew I could count on you to be less horrible than me, but noses to the grindstone busy then you can you can staff to that level. But I don’t think anybody who’s listening to this podcast is really that kind of person that’s, that’s aiming for that allow for that extra 3% a lot. For 10%, if you can get the buy in,

Charlotte Ward 4:02
if you can get the buy in, that’s the big thing, isn’t it that we spend such a lot of time agonising over our forecasts and the accuracy of them. And the reason we do that is because we want the investment, ultimately, at the end of the day to serve our customers. Well, there is a constant kind of internal dialogue about keeping it accurate to get the resourcing that you truly need. And yet right and being cost conscious, but also, like it would be an unmitigated disaster if you are way over staffed as well.

Ash Rhodes 4:32
Absolutely. But by the same token, it depends on how you frame it. If you over hire, say by five years, not 5% of people but 5% of time does anybody really have no projects, nothing that has been sitting there mouldering that your people can’t do is your KB really, that up to date is your internal documents really that up to date,

Charlotte Ward 4:58
which actually is an investment in the future Anyway, and we’ll probably we’ll probably prevent another 20%. Higher needed at some point, you know, six months, a year, two years from now, if you can get on top of that stuff by just having enough contingency to do it. Right. Right, exactly. There’s one thing that she said a little while ago, which was just about asking the the people who are doing the work, how accurate your forecast seems. I think actually, the way I know I do this, I’m very quick to get into a spreadsheet and very quick to get into a dashboard. And think I can apply a bunch of numbers to this and just figure it out on the first pass. It’s worth doing those gut checks, isn’t it? Particularly if you’re new to that role, use that organisation? It’s like, it’s half the conversations as well, rather than just stare at the numbers.

Ash Rhodes 5:49
Yeah, I have this friend who has recommended several times a TED talk that I could not even begin to tell you who it is, but it apparently talks about vulnerability how The only way to really grow is to be vulnerable

Charlotte Ward 6:02
Would this be Brene Brown?

Ash Rhodes 6:04
Oh my God, that’s it. That’s it. That’s totally it. And in fairness, my friend actually like really, really hates it because she doesn’t like being vulnerable and so on. And she just, she’s like, you should listen to it, but I hate it. It’s,

Charlotte Ward 6:17
I’m with her. I’m with her. Was it me, by the way,

Ash Rhodes 6:19
it was not you. It was not you. But regardless, that is so funny that you knew exactly who I was talking about point being showing that kind of vulnerability and saying, I haven’t been here forever and you know, things I don’t know. So walk me through everything.

Charlotte Ward 6:42
That’s here for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/80 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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