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Contact Center Managers Should Care about Contact Center Performance Management

Contact Center Managers Should Care about Contact Center Performance Management

Contact center performance management (CCPM) is an analytical approach to managing and improving the effectiveness, quality and overall experience provided by the contact center. It is a process that uses goals, KPIs and metrics to measure the performance of the contact center and its agents and to determine if the department is successfully delivering to enterprise goals. This quantitative management approach removes imprecision and subjectivity from rating how well a contact center or individual is executing.

Why Adoption of CCPM has been slow

The benefits of contact center performance management have yet to be well articulated by vendors, so most contact center managers do not appreciate the importance of this application. Contact center performance management improves agent productivity, which means that it will easily pay for itself, but it also increases revenue and has a positive impact on customer and agent loyalty. Unfortunately, most contact center managers currently view CCPM, at best, as a “nice to have” instead of a necessity, and it often gets left out of or cut from their investment budgets.

It’s interesting to note that contact center managers who have invested in CCPM systems are extremely pleased with these applications. As part of the research methodology for our 2007 Contact Center Performance Management Market Report, DMG Consulting recently interviewed 12 users of CCPM systems. Every single one said that this application was essential to the success of their contact center. They acknowledged that a CCPM implementation takes time and a great deal of work, as it addresses business process issues and requires them to define or clarify their key performance indicators, but the benefits make it a highly worthwhile effort.

Contact Center Performance Management Trends

There are three primary reasons why contact center managers purchase a contact center performance management application:

  1. To provide timely feedback that allows agents to self-manage their performance. This also includes automating the coaching process.
  2. To standardize and simplify the reporting process. Contact center managers want to liberate supervisors from collecting performance data and creating reports so that they can spend more time on the floor assisting and coaching agents.
  3. To standardize measurement of all aspects of performance, from front-end to back-office, for multiple groups and centers.

While there have been a number of performance management applications implemented for contact centers with fewer than 100 agents, the majority of installations to date involve very large organizations with hundreds or thousands of agents and multiple sites. The more complex the operation, the greater the interest in using a contact center performance management application to simplify management and reporting challenges. However, mid-size companies can also realize significant benefits from CCPM, particularly if they invest in an application that has the functionality they require at the right price.

Benefits of Contact Center Performance Management

Contact center performance management streamlines and automates the reporting process, providing a timely (real-time or next-day) and balanced view of a department’s achievements. Performance management systems enable contact center managers to rapidly identify situations that require attention and take the necessary action. It’s a cost effective method of identifying and focusing on areas of strength and weakness throughout the contact center and the rest of the corporation.

The benefits of contact center performance management extend far beyond the contact center to enterprise senior management, sales and marketing organizations, operations and customers. The primary use of contact center performance management today is internal, but as other departments become familiar with the benefits of these applications, they will also begin to depend on CCPM for data that empowers them to improve the performance of their departments.

A balanced view of agent, team and departmental achievements can alter the standards for and perception of performance. All too often, agents are reprimanded for actions that are highly beneficial for the enterprise and rewarded for actions that are detrimental. For example, if a department rewards its agents for short average handle times without considering the negative impact of this behavior on customer satisfaction and revenue, they may miss the fact that agents who are meeting this productivity KPI are actually damaging the company.

Performance Management Return on Investment

The typical payback period from CCPM system implementations varies from 6 months to 18 months from time of deployment. The categories used to calculate ROI vary by vendor and implementation. Here is a list of common ROI categories for CCPM (which are also metrics/KPIs) that can be used to justify an investment in a contact center performance management application:

Productivity

  • Reduced average handle time
  • Reduced calls/adjustments
  • Increased collections
  • Automation of reporting functions
  • Increased first call resolution rates
  • Decreased wrap/work time
  • Decreased error rates
  • Reduced training time for new hires

Effectiveness

  • Increased adherence
  • Reduced agent attrition
  • Reduced agent absenteeism
  • Increased customer retention
  • Improved average speed of answer
  • Reduced abandonment rate
  • Improved coaching

Revenue

  • Increased revenue
  • Increased close ratios
  • Increased up-sell/cross-sell rates

Cost

  • Reduced cost per call
  • Decreased carrier charges

A few benefits are extremely important, but very hard to quantify for purposes of an ROI analysis. An example is improvement in customer satisfaction or enhanced overall customer experience. Enterprises can and should measure customer satisfaction, but it’s not easy to tie these results directly to a bottom line impact.

Begin with a Pilot

A large percentage of contact center performance management implementations begin with a 3 – 6 month paid trial to identify and quantify the benefits. Contact centers set up a control team to measure the impact of the performance management application on a test group. If the trial yields quantifiable benefits, management generally rolls out the application to other teams and groups in the contact center. The pilot approach is effective because it encourages staff to buy in as management phases in the application. Agent buy-in is a critical success factor in contact center performance management initiatives.

Final Thoughts

Most contact center managers appreciate the need for an application to assist them in consolidating data from their disparate systems and manual processes. They would like to free themselves and their supervisors from the 2 – 10 hours per week dedicated to collecting, crunching and copying numbers from one report to another. If you are not sure that the benefits of CCPM justify the cost or time investment, consider that recent improvements in these applications and implementation best practices make this a good time to take a fresh look. You may be right, but you won’t know if you don’t give CCPM a try. Contact centers that have already invested in CCPM have found that it is now an integral part of their operating environment, driving improvements in productivity, quality and customer and agent satisfaction.

Ask the Experts

I would like to know in your view is a team leader position replaceable in a call centre? If restructuring were to take place what would you recommend this position to concentrate on? What do you consider to be the key responsilities of a Call centre team leader? What other tasks and responsibilities can a call centre team leader take on that would add value to the business? Specifically target the answers to a mobile service provider call centre.

-Telecommunications Contact Center in Africa

The team leader role is very important, as this person must perform many functions. Whether you call the position “team leader” or something else, there must be someone assigned to address the responsibilities that are generally handled by a team leader.

Regardless of industry or vertical, the team leader plays a high impact role in the contact center. He/she serves as second-in-command in a contact center team, providing back-up to the supervisor. Team Leads function at the most senior agent level, but also assist lower-level agents on a daily basis with escalated calls, serving as subject matter experts, answering questions, coordinating team activities, and providing informal coaching to the team. Often, team leaders function as a buffer between agents and supervisors, providing guidance or direction on how to handle a request, the best way to proceed with an issue, or simply as a vehicle for an agent to “vent.” As a role model, the team leader must demonstrate excellent work habits, good judgment, thorough knowledge of products, procedures and processes, and possess excellent interpersonal skills for handling both internal and external customers. This position is often used as a training ground for future supervisors/managers

Additional functions that team leaders can assume include serving as subject matter experts for new initiatives, conducting up-training classes, assisting with quality monitoring, assuming a temporary supervisory role to replace a supervisor on extended leave, serving as a liaison with an interfacing department, or handling special contact center projects.

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.