National holidays are famous for messing up your customer service forecast and planning. Especially on the days between Christmas and New Year’s it’s hard to forecast the number of customers that are going to reach out to you.
According to BBC, people in the UK even coined the term ‘Twixmas’ describing the days between Christmas and the New Year.
For this year we’ll get Boxing day on a Monday, so that will make for an interesting week in terms of customer behaviour and incoming volumes.
So how do you approach creating a forecast for each day of Twixmas?
1. Copy / Paste
Your first instinct might be to look at the same week in a previous year and use the same distribution of volume amongst the days of the week. This is easy to do and will actually give good results! This will only work if you have enough historical data available though. The last time Boxing Day occurred on a Monday was back in 2016!
2. Compare with the preceding weeks
Apart from the distribution across days, you will also need to get the weekly volume right. It’s tempting to fall into the trap of using weekly volumes from the same week in previous years. Instead do this: compare the average daily volumes during ‘Twixmas’ from earlier years to the average daily volume in the preceding weeks. If daily volumes are e.g. 30% lower compared to the average of the 3 weeks before, use that figure on this year’s forecast and multiply by the number of working days to calculate the weekly forecast.
3. Ask a friend
The less data you have the harder the task of forecasting for the holidays will be. If you are indeed short on historical data: ask a friend!
It’s always a good idea to reach out to someone who has more data available. Of course, they serve a different group of customers who will display different behaviour from your own customers, so keep that in mind when borrowing data.