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Implementing Performance Management in the Contact Center 

Implementing Performance Management in the Contact Center

Implementing Performance Management in the Contact Center

10/30/2003
By Donna Fluss
ICCM Weekly

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Last week, we previewed the promising new world of contact center performance management. We established that contact center performance management could liberate contact center managers from time-consuming data collection and reporting and empower them to capture and share customer data company-wide. Now let’s examine how to successfully implement—and realize the benefits of—contact center performance management.

Contact center managers are busier than ever. Today, they must focus on productivity and quality as well as successfully share valuable customer data with sales, marketing, operations, product development and senior executives. That means managers need tools to automate many of their departmental responsibilities. They no longer have the luxury of spending hours consolidating and reviewing agent data from multiple systems, including the automatic call distributor (ACD), quality management (QM), sales and workforce management (WFM). However, neglecting these functions to dedicate their time to delivering information to external departments would diminish their center’s service excellence.

With performance management, contact center managers gain a series of applications, tools and practices that capture and aggregate customer interactions, analyze them to understand customer intents and insights and enable them to act to improve quality and productivity as well as enterprise performance.

At a tactical level, contact center performance management represents a series of measures and key performance indicators (KPIs) that must be captured, tracked and reported to ensure the contact center meets its departmental objectives (including delivering world-class customer services, increasing sales and improving customer loyalty while boosting productivity). From a strategic perspective, contact center performance management is a means of translating corporate objectives into key performance indicators (KPIs) that correlate with corporate goals.

Answering the Call

The growth of contact center technologies and increasing demands for customer insights from corporate constituents is making management of service environments increasingly challenging. Now, companies are looking for well-rounded ‘renaissance’ people to manage their contact centers—politically adept leaders who are good with financials, great with technology and as comfortable with sales, marketing and business functions and systems as they are with service.

Contact center managers need new technologies to consolidate agent and customer information coming from multiple sources (such as ACD, analytics, CRM, computer telephony integration (CTI), QM, recording, sales, stress analysis, word spotting and WFM) and analyze its impact on corporate performance. They need systems to capture and measure KPIs and then convert them into actionable departmental and corporate intelligence. Performance management is uniquely positioned to help contact center managers successfully align the objectives of service organizations with corporate revenue and profitability goals.

Contact center performance management is a “must have” for any company that wants to remain competitive in an era where leveraging customer contacts is the priority. The new contact center performance management solutions combine the best of the productivity and quality systems and applications developed during the past 25 years while opening and sharing valuable customer information with decision makers throughout a company. The goal is to build a contact center performance management program that is anchored by strong technology and opens contact center data to sales, marketing and the executive suite.

Contact centers, in general, have matured at a rapid pace, but most are still in their quality management phase. QM yields wonderful benefits to agents and customers but its internal orientation is too limiting now that senior executives look to contact centers for help in improving corporate performance. This change in corporate dynamics vindicates contact center managers, who have understood for years the power and value of the customer information flowing through their environments. Contact center performance management enables contact centers to share this information with the decision makers who are best positioned to use it to increase revenue.

Contact Center Performance Management Cycle

Building a contact center performance management strategy is an iterative five-phased process that requires the support of senior management. The process begins with the contact center manager identifying the corporate goals–such as increasing revenue by a given percent or decreasing customer attrition–to which the contact center will contribute. In phase II, contact center managers define the metrics and KPIs that measure how well their organization delivers to these goals. During phase III, the department identifies and cleans up the data sources that are required to provide input for the KPIs.

Sources include ACD/PBX, CTI, QM, eLearning, CRM, surveys, etc. Once the data is cleaned up, it’s time to define the scorecards and dashboards in phase IV. Different constituents will require different data – the contact center will concentrate on agent productivity, quality and overall performance. The sales organization cares about new sales and revenue and the executive suite cares about the performance and profitability of the company. The success of the performance management process depends on the organization’s ability to deliver customized views for each group of constituents. During phase V, specific actions are recommended and taken to address issues identified by the KPIs and metrics. An action may be creating a new agent training program or changing a product.

Keep in mind that, like most shifts in business strategy and tactics, extending the scope of contact centers and moving from an internal quality and productivity focus to prioritizing corporate goals requires fundamental changes in people, process and technology. Enterprises that seek to align contact center and corporate goals must, therefore, go beyond the motions to actually embrace performance management as part of corporate culture.

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