The Importance of Contact Center Performance Management

The Importance of Contact Center Performance Management

Contact center performance management systems are domain-specific software applications that uniquely combine contact center software, dashboarding, analytics, workflow, and data integration to:

  • Allow management to set performance goals for a contact center organization
  • Roll out personalized versions of these goals to every agent in the organization
  • Provide agents and management with daily (or even intraday) progress contact center dashboards and reports against these goals.
  • Supply agents and management with various contact center performance management workflows -- such as incentive management adjustments, coaching tools, performance improvement planning, and best practices capture, -- to standardize organizational response to performance trends.

Examples of vendors providing contact center performance management solutions include AIM Technology Group (recently purchased by Aspect Software), Merced Systems, Enkata, Verint, and Nice Systems. In addition, many Business Intelligence vendors offer some form of contact center performance management (although many of these products are more tools than applications) -- SAP/Business Objectives, IBM/Cognos, Siebel Analytics/Oracle, and Microsoft.

Contact Center System Implementation Issues

Especially for mid-size and enterprise companies, there is no one-size fits all approach to contact center performance management implementations. While technology has improved dramatically over the last 10 years, there are certain issues that contact center performance management technology cannot address - at least not yet. Most contact center performance management teams fail to take these issues into account often resulting in delayed, over-budget projects and, in the worst cases, canceled implementations and fired managers.

The following are five issues all contact center performance management teams must deal with in trying to execute a complete contact center performance management implementation. I've tried to identify five issues that go beyond the more common issues that are relevant to most major VoIP software implementation projects - e.g. creating a project team with a leader, creating a steering committee, gathering requirements, getting buy-in from the front lines, driving adoption from the top, etc.

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Contact Center Performance Management Organizational Models

If you can't model your organization within your vendor's application, your project is doomed from the start. The heart of most contact center performance management systems is some type of an org chart manager in which people are entered into the system and then defined as having certain roles, certain identifiers, being part of certain groups, and reporting to certain people. This org chart manager allows for proper roll-up reporting, correct personalization of goals, routing of workflows, and much more.

The problem, however, is that most organizations don't have an organizational chart that can easily translate into the software (as a small example you may have employees reporting to multiple people but your software application may not support such a "networked" hierarchy). There is no easy way around this contact center performance management challenge other than to work with your vendor and come up with a "software" version of your org chart that gives you the views, reports, and workflow routes you're looking for.

But don't stop there. Once this translation is resolved, you must put in place a process (manual or automated) to ensure the org chart is for contact center performance management constantly updated in real-time as your org chart changes. Considering how contact center integrations factor into your overall CX strategy can be helpful in planning your system upgrades around key initiatives.

Otherwise, workflows are routed to the wrong people, group performance is inaccurate as it is comprised of the contact center performance management of individuals no longer part of the group, etc. While one challenge with contact center performance management projects is data or metric accuracy, an even bigger problem is inaccurate information in your application's org chart manager.

Contact Center Data Integration Issues

Another reason why contact center performance management implementations fail is the lack of adoption by the front lines due to metric inaccuracy. Such contact center performance management inaccuracies are a direct result of the Garbage In / Garbage Out principle. The reality is to have a full functioning contact center performance management system you need data (base metrics) from multiple sources - ACD, WFM, Quality Management, IVR, CRM, Billing, CSAT, Training Systems, and much more. I have never seen an implementation where there aren't plenty of problems importing this data into the contact center performance management systems. Here are examples of common problems:

  • The mapping from source data fields to the contact center performance management target requires complex transformations
  • The contact center performance management data itself is not clean -- missing fields, missing identifiers, etc. The source data owner who understands source data fields is not part of the project team and is not actively involved in the implementation
  • The source data owners who understand source data fields no longer exist in the organization because the contact center performance management system is so old and out-of-date (READ - legacy systems)
  • Data cannot be accessed from the production source direction; another intermediary source is required for contact center performance management (e.g. going to a company's data warehouse) which actually complicates the timing and mapping of the base data

Most contact center performance management data sources are not often easy to integrate and don't listen to anybody (e.g. your vendor ) that tells you otherwise. Instead, conduct a contact center performance management data source audit for yourself- what calculated metrics do you want? what are the required base metrics? from which sources will these base metrics come? Conduct plenty of data sampling and testing to prove you can get the data you need. And finally, make sure you do much of this pre-purchase as unforeseen data integration complexity is a major driver for professional services costs in any contact center performance management project.

Call Center Reporting Vs. Call Center Performance Management

A significant failure of many contact center performance management projects is to not including any performance management workflows as part of an initial implementation. While many contact center managers (and their IT counterparts) can fixate on the data and associated reporting, the real key to ROI in a contact center performance management project is the associated workflow around the metrics. That's the reason for buying a contact center performance management system vs. a general reporting or BI tool.

A simple case in point: A contact center performance management report is created for every call center agent to show them their progress against Average Handle Time (AHT) goals. Managers can see their team's overall AHT progress against goal as well as the AHT performance of individual team members.

However, if there are no contact center performance management alerts for agents who are underperforming and no required tasks for managers to engage in performance coaching for those agents, then the system relies on people to pull information (bad idea) at their discretion. The workflow functionality pushes information, standardizing the desired response of the organization and, perhaps most important, monitoring who is following the process.

Top Business Initiatives for Contact Center

You're not buying a phone, a computer, or office furniture. You're buying a contact center performance management system to deliver improved performance for your agents, teams, and overall operations. If you don't have a specific initiative or ROI case driving your contact center performance management implementation, your team will lack the focus to deliver the results necessary to justify the contact center performance management purchase.

Projects lacking well-defined initiatives typically follow one of two paths -- either there are no initiatives identified to drive contact center performance management implementation prioritization and the overall contact center quickly withers or, conversely, management wants to boil the ocean by implementing all initiatives at once, leading to mediocrity across all efforts.

How you handle customers in your contact center will shape your business reputation and future profits. Here are examples of contact center performance management initiatives that can drive call center implementations.

  • Improved employee lifecycle management
  • Standardize performance coaching processes
  • Improved employee productivity
  • Improved employee efficiency
  • Improved customer satisfaction

Contact Center Performance Management as a Process

How many times have you heard the story of a company that budgeted enough money to implement a business system but did not budget any resources to maintain it? You must understand from the beginning of your project that ensuring the accuracy and relevancy of the contact center performance management system is an every-data task. As such, a contact center performance management system must evolve into an integral part of your everyday management of the business. Here is just a sampling of tasks that must be constantly addressed:

  • Cleaning up bad data imports.
  • Adding or replacing existing contact center performance management data imports altogether as new source systems come online.
  • Updating contact center performance management goal targets and metric formula (e.g. changing incentive plans formula).
  • Changing workflows (e.g. there is a new step in who reviews performance plans).
  • Re-tooling dashboard and reports to focus on new initiatives and campaigns.

A contact center plays an important role in customer experience. As part of your contact center performance management implementation, be sure to have a plan for how your organization will use, embrace and maintain the contact center performance management on an everyday basis. This includes an overall executive sponsor and contact center performance management manager for the system as well as owners for various system components - e.g. workflows, data sources, etc. -- and a budget allocation.

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