Call Centers

For Performance Optimization, There’s No Time Like the Present

Walk into a typical command center and what do you see? A wall or desktop filled with multiple screens reporting statistics from a number of disparate systems. Details from a leading-edge workforce management solution are prominently displayed on one screen, stats from the ACD (automatic contact distribution) are on another monitor, while a third panel presents an analysis of individual calls.

Critical information? You betcha. Conveniently packaged and presented to enable managers to make lightning-fast decisions that save money and assure customer satisfaction? Not a chance.

Too Much Information

Instead, you’ll find folks watching all of the assorted call data — the current service level, calls in queue and agents available — and trying to get a sense of whether the demand — calls — is outstripping the supply — people.

In the event they’re able to spot some trend by calculating variances in their head and then make the determination that “Yes, demand exceeds supply,” they don’t have adequate visibility into the workings of the rest of the center to determine the cause or the best resolution for the problem.

With service levels quickly deteriorating, they’re left with an overwhelming amount of information that can’t tell them what they need to know right now and no real way to draw useful conclusions.

So what’s a contact center manager to do? The typical response would be to give them more information — thinking that the data they need must reside somewhere. However, as we’ve illustrated, the typical contact center manager is already overwhelmed with information. They have so little time for analysis that any additional information would only add to the confusion.

Instead, what they need is an analysis of the real-time information they already have, presented in a fashion that would enable them to get to the root cause of the problem — fast.

Legacy Attachment

We’re already seeing real-time information access in almost every other part of our daily lives. Instant access to local and national news from a variety of technological devices has become the norm.

Stock prices trail across the bottom of our screens, allowing us to make prompt decisions to move in or out of any given equity. Friends, associates and even our children are available with a few clicks on our keyboard or cell phone.

So why, in this era where everything else is delivered almost instantaneously, are we still using historical data to manage contact centers?

Waiting 30 or 60 minutes for a comparison of workforce plans against actual activity can cost you customers. When the performance analysis of an individual agent isn’t available until the next day, you’ve missed the opportunity to issue a correction or deliver praise. Identifying an ineffective script in a new product campaign after you’ve had agents on the phone for a week or more is a waste of money.

In order to experience a significant change in productivity, enterprises are going to have forgo their dependency on legacy systems, which are incapable of providing visibility to real-time information, and embrace next-generation solutions.

They need to stop relying on historical data that is hours, days or even weeks old, and start demanding information that will allow them to navigate their business in real-time.

Timely Decision Making

Imagine the difference they would experience using a system that delivers up-to-the-minute data and also employs business logic and user-defined rules to remove the guesswork and calculate performance anomalies. Instead of simply reporting stats on current activity, the system would draw correlations between activities across the enterprise and deliver a timely analysis in a single interface that would allow them to take corrective and decisive action immediately.

For instance, a real-time solution could help avoid today’s lengthy queues by forecasting a staff shortage; it could recommend diverting callers to a live operator when the IVR (interactive voice response) system fails.

Better yet, when an ACD goes down at the contact center in California, the supervisor at the center in Texas would be made aware of the problem as it happened and could make plans to reallocate agent resources and direct calls to balance workloads across multiple centers.

Basically, such a system moves beyond simply reporting “what happened” to answer the bigger question: “Why?” Armed with this new information, contact center managers are able to make decisions more quickly and fix problems faster. In turn, this immediacy helps to retain customer satisfaction and reduce expenses.

New Way of Thinking

Too good to be true? Not necessarily. Leading enterprises that have deployed next-generation systems are already capitalizing on the availability of real-time information and analyses to make a significant difference in the way they are interacting with and securing new customers.

They’re quickly converting their contact centers from cost centers into revenue-generating customer service centers that please existing clients and lure new ones away from the competition.

The view inside the command center is changing, too. Now in the place where several monitors and glassy-eyed managers once stood are professionals making use of a real-time system that integrates all of their CRM data into a single pane of glass.

Organizations that thrive in the next decade will be the ones that are nimble enough to change their way of thinking. They’ll give up their reliance on legacy information and move toward a business model that depends on real-time analysis of contact center activity to capture and retain customers while delivering premium customer service.

Steve Kostyshen is Chairman ofInformiam, a provider of real-time performance management solutions for contact centers. Informiam’s ClearPath product suite delivers critical information for Fortune 1000 organizations seeking to navigate business operations in real-time.

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