Companies Still Fail to Measure KPIs for the Contact Center

As more companies look to save money and provide better service by globally distributing their contact center operations, the next step is consolidating infrastructure and standardizing support processes in order to make this worldwide operation run smoothly, according to a recent Aberdeen study. The study, "Contact Center Consolidation," finds many Best-in-Class (BIC) companies have made great strides in consolidation, but many Laggard companies aren't even measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) -- a necessity in any contact center operation. For the purposes of the study, Laggards are defined by the lower 30 percent of scorers. Alan Hubbard, senior vice president of Aberdeen's Customer Service & Support practice, says these companies are reporting that they don't understand what they're measuring, or aren't measuring key KPIs at all. "One of the clear things, at least on the Laggard side, is that they're really struggling with measurement overall," Hubbard notes. "So what we get back from companies falling into Laggard category is they're not measuring [KPIs]. That's a real challenge, because the contact center is driven by its KPIs." The problem with companies not measuring KPIs, according to Hubbard, is that it will be heard to rationalize consolidation projects to executive management if there are no ROI statistics or KPI numbers to provide as evidence. "In order to convince not only yourself but management that it's a worthwhile project, you need to do that ROI," Hubbard says. "If I'm a contact center manager, and I'm trying to convince my management team that I want to spend 500,000 dollars, a million, or even ten million dollars, you need an ROI. I think that's critical." BIC companies, the study's top 20 percent of scorers, are moving toward consolidating and standardizing contact center processes and are already seeing results that even surprised Hubbard, such as 74 percent of BICs seeing an improvement in first contact closure rate. "One of the things we didn't expect as companies moved to the final phase, virtualization of the contact center, was to see such significant improvement in KPIs," he explains. The study also concludes that two additional benefits companies will find through the consolidation of their contact center infrastructure are reduction in contact center expenses and improvement in contact center uptime. According to information derived from the study, there are four separate phases contact centers must go through when addressing consolidation. The four phases are:
  • Phase 1: All contact center resources are moved to a single site;
  • Phase 2: Multiple sites managed by intelligent routing;
  • Phase 3: Multiple sites managed on a single vendor platform; and
  • Phase 4: Virtual contact center on a single logical platform.
The study finds most companies, 49 percent of those surveyed, are in Phase 2 of contact center consolidation, followed by 39 percent of all companies in Phase 4, the virtualization stage. However, Hubbard stresses companies can be in more than one phase at the same time. "Interestingly enough, companies are in multiple stages depending upon their size and depending upon the complexity of their environment," he says. While companies can be in two places at once, Hubbard says they all need to end up in the same place: virtualization. "Developing a culture that supports standardization, training, vendor management, and virtualization is critical to the success of the contact center," Hubbard explains. He also stresses that multi-tenancy is absolutely critical for virtual contact centers--best-in-class companies have recognized this and are taking the lead with 61 percent having a multi-tenant platform in place versus 32 percent of Industry Average companies. "The clear message came back is that multi-tenancy is critical to the success of the virtual world," he adds. In order to avoid being left in the wake of the BICs, the study suggests that Laggards must take the following actions immediately:
  • standardize customer support across all channels;
  • begin to consolidate contact center resources (the study finds only 35 percent of Laggard companies have started a consolidation project); and
  • develop and ROI model for consolidation projects.
Consolidating resources and standardizing processes across a company's entire contact center operation can help cut costs and improve customer service; something Hubbard notes is the new key competitive differentiator. "Customer service is rapidly becoming a differentiator," he says. "It's really not just product and price anymore; customer service is now a differentiator."

Related articles: Contact Centers Aren't Yet Ready for Web 2.0 Foreseeing a "revolutionary" future for the contact center customer service market, the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for the sector extends the multiyear Oracle/Siebel winning streak, and highlights the continuing value of niche players for verticals. No VoIP? No Problem. Unified communications software vendor Objectworld offers a UC platform that lets companies keep their existing phone systems. A Tenancy of One's Own Just when the battle between on-demand and on-premise CRM seemed to settle down a bit, a new one opens up: single-tenant architecture versus multitenancy. Australia: Leading the Asia-Pac Pack Contact center consolidation, voice portals, hosted contact centers, and unified communications are driving much of the movement. Gartner Restores a Leader to Its Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure Interactive Intelligence moves back into the top quadrant, joining Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and Nortel.
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