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Measuring the reality of the customer experience. (Call Center/CRM Management Scope).

Contact center reporting has traditionally focused on simple measurements of agent efficiency, such as talk times, wrap times and idle times. The data to create these reports are easily accessible from ACDs and predictive dialers, and although manually compiling the information and presenting it in understandable reports can often be a tedious and labor-intensive process, the easy access of the information has led call center management to place a disproportionate value on these agent-centric efficiency reports. Missing from this type of report is the effectiveness side of the equation, which highlights both the customer-centric view of the overall customer experience as well as integration of contact center efficiency with overall corporate objectives.

Customer interaction analysis technology has evolved so that contact centers can now run an operation that aligns its measurements with the organization's business goals, focus on improving customers' experiences and still keep productivity up and costs down. True ROI comes from delivering the best customer experience possible with the ability to improve all areas of the business based on sophisticated, closed-loop data capture, and analysis from the gold mine of actionable information found in the contact center.

Measuring Effectiveness And Quality

At the most basic level, measuring efficiency is agent-centric and delivers interaction optimization; measuring effectiveness is customer-centric and delivers business optimization. In a world where costs must be kept in check, too often productivity goals can get in the way of efforts to optimize customers' experiences. When contact centers focus only on agent-centric measurements, other indicators of business success such as customer satisfaction and loyalty, or upsell success and closure rates, might be ignored.

Business performance data are scattered across multiple systems within the contact center. Because these data have traditionally been difficult to collate, inrerdependencies among key metrics are not recognized, tracked or managed. As a result, it is almost impossible to evaluate the real business costs and benefits of decisions made within the contact center.

By correlating both hard and soft metrics, managers can identify which agents are best at meeting quantitative goals and providing superior customer service at the same time. For instance, by comparing talk time with first call resolution, you can identify agents who excel at solving the customer's problems in the briefest amount of time -- key candidates for best practices modeling. At the same time, you can identify those agents who rake the most time to achieve call resolution and earmark them for more training (see Figure 1).

Similarly, when a decision is made to increase productivity, it can often adversely affect quality, as in the case of mandating a restriction on talk times. One undesired effect would be a reduction in customer satisfaction, but unless the conract center is measuring both, no one will recognize the link. On the flip side, recording customer satisfaction surveys immediately after a call is finished and including these scores on the agent's score card gives a more exact overall picture of the agents capabilities.

Measuring effectiveness and quality is just as important as measuring efficiency and quantity. Business objectives should become the bottom line in deciding who, what, where and when to measure, i.e., what key performance indicators (KPIs) are important for the contact center. Then data capture, consolidation, analysis and reporting can become a closed-loop process that benefits everyone when the information is distributed to the entire organization and the customers experiences are improved.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The Who, What, Where And When Of Measurement

To ensure success, any performance management system must incorporate metrics that are appropriate and relevant. These measures include subjective metrics, such as evaluation scores and call outcomes, as well as more traditional quantitative metrics such as call handling times and number of transfers. Users can balance multiple objectives by understanding how different metrics are interrelated, When monitoring KPIs, the effect of new training programs, improved customer - facing processes and tailored product offerings quickly becomes clear.

With the right KPIs and analysis technology. contact centers can understand not only what happens in the call center, but also why it happens. The ability to roll up, drill down or drill across data at any level -- including listening to the actual call recordings underlying the data -- gives an unparalleled opportunity to understand reality from the customer's perspective. Detailed analysis can include drilling down through different levels of the organization, across time for trend analysis or comparing departments or product lines against each other. A data mart that includes recorded customer interactions delivers a full understanding of what is happening in the contact center and helps pinpoint the best opportunities for management action.

A few examples of KPIs from different data sources that can provide extremely useful information can be found above in Table 1.

Current Technology For Complex Data Analysis

Traditional query and reporting tools tell only a part of the story and cannot achieve sophisticated analysis. New central performance management systems can integrate data from different sources and incorporate metrics that are directly relevant to key business objectives. These systems can then distribute the critical business intelligence captured by the contact center to all areas of the organization.

Until now, contact center managers have spent precious time each week compiling performance statistics rather than coaching agents. Today's technology eliminates the need to manually gather performance data, instead providing on-demand or on-schedule data import from identified sources, without any human interaction. Performance management systems allow for different KPI configurations and goals for different workgroups or contact center divisions, enabling everyone to be measured using the right metrics and goals. Score cards provide a clear summary of performance in relation to selected KPIs.

When researching a performance management system, be sure it can:

* Provide KPIs that reflect the needs and goals of the business,

* Share information quickly and cost-effectively across the entire organization,

* Use score cards to provide an intuitive summary of performance,

* Identify performance against user-defined goals,

* Drill down through the data to uncover what happens in the contact center and then drill across to understand why it happens, and

* Link recorded calls directly to performance statistics.

Contact Center Analytics Benefit The Entire Organization

The potential of the information gathered in the contact center is extraordinary. Are there business processes that limit agents' ability to provide customers with superior service? Are there technology issues that result in long idle times between calls? Are there training needs that, if met, could boost quality across large groups of agents? This information exists within the contact center and analysis identifies where and how to improve business processes, enhance the quality of the customer experience and impact the bottom line.

Executives can better understand why customers choose to leave the company, product managers can listen to actual customer opinions about their product, win-back teams can become more effective and trainers can build their programs based on teal interactions between agents and customers. Causes of variations in customer satisfaction and customer retention rates can be better understood.

Departmental managers in sales, marketing and finance can see the impact of new programs, campaigns and trend performance. Recorded customer feedback can provide the development team with important information for future product releases.

When agents can see individual, team and corporate performance against goals, they are more likely to perceive their roles as a critical component to the organization's success.

Contact centers no longer need to be perceived as a back room where money flows out and nothing of value comes in. They contain a gold mine of insights into the organization and its customers' experiences with the company, and by acting on those insights, the contact center can be transformed from a cost center into a value center.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Table 1

KPI Data source

Talk time vs. ACD, predictive
call resolution dialer and CRM/
 desktop application









Quality monitoring Quality monitoring
scores vs. customer application,
satisfaction scores customer
 satisfaction surveys








Call resolution ACD, CRM/desktop
vs. agent pay apps, payroll
 software




Calls per hour Predictive dialer,
 ACD






KPI Strategy

Talk time vs. Use this KPI to determine the
call resolution relationship between talk time and
 call resolution. Resolution could
 be a closed sale, a promise to pay
 (collections) or a completed work
 ticket in a help desk or customer
 care environment. Benchmark those
 agents with the lowest talk times
 and highest resolution rates.
 Record these agents' calls for
 "best practices" training.

Quality monitoring This KPI can help you identify
scores vs. customer areas of subjectivity in your
satisfaction scores quality monitoring process. Use it
 to identify supervisors that
 consistently score agent quality
 our of alignment with customer
 feedback. Use the recorded calls to
 identify training opportunities for
 agents and supervisors and to
 create more objective scoring
 forms.

Call resolution This KPI can help you determine
vs. agent pay whether your best-paid agents are
 really your best performers. Use
 this KPI to create incentive plans
 that balance tenure with
 productivity and quality.

Calls per hour Simply mandating agents handle more
 calls with in each hour may reduce
 revenue results or customer
 satisfaction, so the goal for this
 KPI should be to balance
 productivity (number of calls) with
 quality (accomplishing objectives).


For information and subscriptions, visit www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800.

Marlene Rosati is director of marketing for Eyretel Inc., a provider of voice and data recording, quality monitoring and analysis systems designed to support and enhance customer experience management (CEM).
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rosati, Marlene
Publication:Customer Interaction Solutions
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:1555
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