• August 1, 2009
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

Doing More of What You Already Do

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Performance management is one of the most important enterprise concepts to find its way into contact centers. Many successful contact centers have adopted a performance management culture, in which they use metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure all significant activities and events within their shops. All too often, however, the contact center is left off the executive dashboard, because the center cannot produce well-understood and accepted KPIs that can be shared on a timely basis. As contact centers continue to transform from cost centers to profit centers, the role and importance of contact center performance management (CCPM) will grow. The recession will speed up this process, as the pressure ratchets ever higher for contact centers to reduce operational expenses and increase revenue.

CCPM is a strategic, practical, and tactical tool. At the strategic level it provides a framework and tools that help contact center managers align the center’s goals with those of the enterprise. And yet CCPM is highly tactical, practical, and actionable: Highly effective scorecards, dashboards, reports, and analytics—used to measure the performance of departments, functions, teams, and agents—identify where change is necessary to improve performance and effectiveness.

Every contact center relies on metrics or KPIs—and, in that sense, is already using performance management. In small and informal contact centers, the primary KPIs may be the number of calls handled, the average speed of answer, or the number of transfers. In a formal, enterprise-scale contact center, there may be dozens of KPIs, such as first-call resolution (FCR) rate, service level, interactive voice response (IVR) containment rate, and average handle time.

The complexity of contact centers makes CCPM critically important. Most contact center managers are buried in reports and numbers from myriad systems, struggling to find the right levers to drive or enhance contact center performance. Complicating matters further, reports from various systems often give different numbers for the same KPIs. CCPM is needed both to simplify the operational reporting environment and to give managers a single version of the truth.

Yet standalone CCPM applications remain a difficult sell—and the current economic climate makes matters worse. Debate continues about the future of CCPM: Some say its functionality should be integrated into applications for either workforce management (WFM) or quality management (QM), while others suggest that CCPM should be incorporated directly into the core routing and queuing aspects of contact center infrastructure.

Because CCPM scorecards and dashboards can help make WFM and QM solutions more actionable, we encourage their inclusion in these applications. We also encourage the use of CCPM to enhance the reporting capabilities of many automatic call distributors. CCPM-oriented packages can be used to address FCR, call-reason identification, upselling, agent coaching, performance appraisals, reviews, and a growing number of other functions, all of which depend on KPIs for effective execution.

The functions of contact center performance management are never going to go away. As the most effective and objective way to measure all types of activities, from agent performance and training effectiveness to sales revenue and customer satisfaction, CCPM is increasingly used in enterprises to share essential metrics with the senior executive team. It’s time for contact center managers to stop fighting the inevitable: Investments in CCPM are the means to ensure that senior management is aware of the contact center’s contributions.

To learn more about the current set of CCPM solutions and packages that can enhance your operating environment and reduce operating costs while improving the customer experience, see DMG’s 2009 Contact Center and Enterprise Performance Management Report (http://sn.im/dmg0809).

Donna Fluss (donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com) is founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, a leading provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis, and consulting.

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