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January 07, 2011

Turning Information into Easily Readable Actionable Data

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


Information is not data. While your contact center may be information rich, if that information isn't in a form that can be used, your contact center may be data-poor. The key to performance optimization in the contact center is turn meaningful information into actionable data items and putting them to good use. Then make sure everyone can see that actionable data quickly and easily. Easier said than done.

Houston-based Spectrum (News - Alert) Corporation has released a new white paper entitled, “Technology, Analytics and the Successful Contact Center” (http://www.specorp.com/files/cc_solutions/SpectrumWhitePaper_p.pdf). In the paper, Spectrum postulates that there are a number of technologies operating in your contact center right now that could be better data sources for you if you understand how to extract the information these solutions generate and turn it into actionable data. In turn, by getting a better handle on your relevant customer data, you can help these solutions function better by improving the quality of the input, creating a synergistic cycle in the contact center in which the data -- and results they produce -- keep improving with each cycle. The trick is, according to Spectrum, understanding how best to display the data so customer facing employees and managers can use it to make quality decisions essential to the day-to-day operations and the overall success of the contact center and the company.

The most critical technologies, according to Spectrum, are as follows:

Workforce management. With information collected from WFM solutions, contact centers have real-time access to current, future and past schedules, eliminating the need for manual paper schedule distribution. Supervisors can use WFM tools to see their agents' schedules and to verify that agents have acknowledged schedule changes. If last minute changes are made, schedules are automatically updated and agents and supervisors are notified. WFM also improves agent adherence with pop-up windows with alerts to schedule changes and reminders of scheduled events like breaks, lunches and training as they occur throughout the day.

The Help desk. The Help Desk is a central point through which problems or issues are reported and subsequently managed. From a wider perspective, it is also seen as a core part of the service function, responsible for bringing together multiple resources to address an issue. Because help desk users can be external or internal, the overall function is potentially critical in terms of both the organization's efficiency and the quality of direct support offered to customers.

The ACD. Since call volume varies throughout the day or season, managing the contact center’s ACD is a constant challenge. Usually a supervisor is assigned to a group(s) and is charged with making sure that incoming calls are taken in a timely manner, agents are properly trained, and staffing is adequate. Access to real-time data is critical for the supervisor to manage the ACD system in a contact center.

The IVR. Using actual data from the interactive voice response (IVR) system, managers are able to recognize areas within the IVR which are creating poor customer service points. IVR statistics are typically more manager related but can be helpful to the agent. When calls go unanswered or there is a slow response, customer service levels are affected. Also, IVR statistics can be viewed by IT to determine problems with the system. Problems could include that the IVR is down, it is configured in a way that is confusing to the customer, or it's not working properly. With well-displayed actionable data, these issues can be addressed as they arise and provide a more efficient work environment in the contact center.

The predictive dialer. How can the humble predictive dialer provide a contact center with actionable data? The dialing system is designed to monitor the length of each call and develop an average call length. Once the system knows the average call length, the predictive dialer can make the next call and  “hand it off” to the agent as soon as the first call has ended. More customers are contacted in a shorter length of time. Dialing system also helps managers effectively manage agents and campaign results. Campaign results are a managerial tool that when combined sales financial statistics truly show the results of the campaign. By reporting on these statistics, managers get a real-time visual picture of the PDS campaign results.

E-mail. For a contact center to be successful, it's necessary to report on key data from e-mails serviced through the contact center by the agent or group. A study showed that 64 percent of retail customers would likely stop doing business with a company that did not respond to their email within what they consider to be an acceptable time frame. As a result, it's critical that a contact center have the best possible e-mail processes in place. To accomplish this, a contact center needs...guess what?...data. With a well designed e-mail process, an acceptable level of service can be maintained and thus retain customer satisfaction and business.

CRM. The overall goals of CRM are to provide seamless customer service across all communication channels, direct agent activity to where it is needed most, provide that agent with relevant customer history and keep customer service satisfaction to customer interaction costs balanced. But without relevant and correct data, a CRM solution is little more than a door-stop.

Salesforce automation. The value of these data is the competition that it creates within the sales department, the knowledge it provides to active salespeople and managers and the level of awareness of one’s status against their goals. When the sales team sees the sales made, orders closed, etc. a competitive atmosphere is created and sales people get motivated and sell more. This is seen as a tool for sales oriented companies as opposed to traditional call centers. To have the statistics easily accessible is a true benefit to the busy salesperson.

So how do you get a handle on all this information? By finding a solution that specializes in interfacing with a multitude of contact center systems with various software and display systems that allow the user to define specific data associated with their business. These data are delivered in real time to the employees that need it to make decisions throughout the day. Many solutions can read data from an ACD, IVR and predictive dialer and allow the user to define message templates that contain data items from any of these systems. The software’s engine reads and refreshes the data every few seconds so when it appears on a display such as an LED wallboard, plasma screen or desktop, it is current and specifically addresses the user’s needs. By targeting specific users with real-time data tailored to their needs, more intelligent decisions are made resulting in better services to the customer.

And that benefits everyone: the contact center, the company and, most important, its customers.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco




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