• November 1, 2012
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

Why Contact Centers Don't Adopt Performance Management

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Contact center performance management (CCPM) is a process and an application, both of which are misunderstood and underappreciated by the market. The concepts underlying CCPM represent a well-tested approach to data-driven management being applied in a variety of ways throughout enterprises. The idea is to quantify and measure key contact center activities in order to identify out-of-adherence situations that require remediation.

Performance management has caught on in many enterprise functions, just not in contact centers. Enterprises use enterprise performance management (EPM), also known as corporate performance management or business performance management, to track and report key performance indicators for various business units and report them to senior executives. Six Sigma, Lean, and similar programs are designed to identify and measure the performance of quantifiable business activities so that anomalies can be promptly identified and rectified. Six Sigma and Lean are performance management–type initiatives that are being applied to operating areas, including contact centers, more frequently than comprehensive performance management programs.

Why Don't Contact Center Managers Adopt CCPM?

Having followed this sector in depth since 2005, DMG Consulting has had the chance to ask many contact center managers this very question. Here are some of their explanations for their reluctance to invest in CCPM:

  • I'm not sure what it is or what it will do for my contact center.
  • I already have too much reporting; I don't need another reporting package.
  • It's too expensive and time consuming to use, and it's risk-prone.
  • It's not worth the effort.
  • It requires too many integrations.
  • It is not our highest priority need (and always seems to be pushed back by other systems' priorities).
  • My management won't approve the investment.
  • My department has developed its own performance management solution.
  • My company already has an EPM solution.

These answers may have been phrased differently, but this list captures the essence of the issue: Contact center leaders and managers do not know what CCPM is. Most still believe that it is just more sophisticated reporting, and since they already have reporting systems, they're not willing to take on the battle to get an investment approved, particularly when other solutions, like speech analytics and even desktop analytics, have captured the attention of their senior managers. With speech analytics, there have been a number of instances in which senior executives have introduced and championed the acquisition process. This is far from the case with CCPM.

Why Won't Vendors Invest in Building the Market?

Vendors want to sell CCPM, but they are not willing to invest in the marketing required to build market demand. This is a Catch-22 situation if ever there was one. Another way to look at this situation is as a circle of failure. At this point there isn't enough activity (revenue being generated) to justify the type of investments needed to wake up the market. (This is reminiscent of the contact center workforce management (WFM) market, which has limped along for most of its 30-year history. There have been enough purchases to make it worthwhile to maintain and sell the products, but not enough to compel vendors to make major investments, until just recently.)

Why Is It So Hard to Explain CCPM's Value?

Since CCPM has a very strong value proposition for managers who are quantitatively oriented and appreciate the importance of managing by numbers, it seems that it should be relatively easy to explain how it can improve the performance of these mission-critical operating areas. Contact centers are mission-critical. If you have any doubt, try shutting yours down for a while—your customers and the public at large will communicate their displeasure to anyone who will listen. But if senior management doesn't agree and is unable to see the true value and contributions of their contact center to the company, it is a losing battle to persuade them to invest in a solution that can cost upward of $100,000 and whose benefits are not obvious.

The second challenge is the misconception that contact center managers all like using quantitative measures to manage their departments. While this should be true, because there are many more ways to measure various aspects of performance in contact centers than there are in most other departments, it is frequently not the case.

One way to solve this problem is to hire highly qualified people with MBA degrees to manage contact centers. But in most cases this won't happen for a variety of reasons—and probably shouldn't. However, companies that do take this approach should make sure that the MBAs understand the purpose and mission of their contact center. Without this understanding, they can do more damage than the current group of managers, who understand how to deliver an outstanding customer experience but not how to use numbers to optimize the performance of every aspect of the department.

What Does This Mean to the Market?

There is a myriad of reasons CCPM is misunderstood. This cycle of frustration is going to continue until some vendor, or group of vendors, makes substantial marketing investments to hype this sector.

This doesn't mean that CCPM won't sell. There are companies and leaders who appreciate that CCPM is mission-critical, that instituting a CCPM culture and supporting it with a feature-rich solution will give them a differentiator over their competition. Enough companies will continue to get it to keep this market alive, though not necessarily as innovative as it could be. (There is a reason many of the stand-alone CCPM companies have already been bought out by either contact center infrastructure vendors or WFO suite providers, which can integrate the functionality into a broader suite and realize application synergies.)

The Future of the Market

The CCPM market is not going away, because there is a need for this capability. Contact centers need a system of record to integrate and standardize data from their five to 30 different operating systems. Contact center managers need a system that tracks the performance of agents, teams, and functions and identifies performance improvement opportunities. And once increased automation and added workflow capabilities can make the results from CCPM solutions actionable, demand will quietly start to increase.

DMG expects the demand for CCPM to remain relatively steady, yet strong enough to keep these applications in the market. However, while there will likely be one or two stand-alone CCPM providers that will remain viable, the future of these solutions will be as part of a larger suite sold by contact center infrastructure, WFO, or even EPM or business intelligence providers.

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

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