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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
July 2007 - Volume 26 / Number 2
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With Tim Passios, Director of Product Management
Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert)


Q: With the push from “cost centers” to “profit centers,” there's a heightened emphasis on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge a contact center's value to an overall business. Are certain KPIs and metrics better than others for determining such value, and how are they best applied?

A: Whether they realize it or not, many contact centers are already value centers. They may not directly generate revenue, but they definitely contribute to brand reinforcement and customer loyalty by handling inquiries, processing orders, routing leads to a sales team, conducting satisfaction surveys and so on.

The trick, then, is for a contact center and its parent organization to measure the business worth of such activities and how much they contribute to the company's profit stream. And to best determine a center's value input, contact center managers should focus on two distinct Key Performance Indicator categories:

1. KPIs to push down to supervisors and agents to improve performance, and
2. KPIs to push up to executive management.

To identify specific KPIs for each category, it's helpful to first build a framework of the core issues that drive each indicator, such as productivity, customer satisfaction and other like concerns. These typically are issues shared by the contact center manager and the company's executive-level directors, although their respective priority lists may differ.

Once you've identified the KPIs and associated metrics for your contact center, the same framework aids in applying them. Remember, measuring your center's value comes down to knowing what's important to the business as a whole, and to ensuring skillful and satisfactory work by agents to achieve corporate objectives.

While various KPIs can emphasize your contact center's value to corporate decision-makers, here are some common ones.

KPIs to push down
• Productivity: Agents work different hours, handle different media types, manage interactions from other countries, and are often scheduled during widely-differing traffic patterns. Given these kinds of variances, the KPI for true interactions per hour considers an agent's number of calls, chats and or e-mail responses divided by available time—or “productive” time—regardless of media channel or traffic. Occupancy should also be factored in for busy periods vs. slow ones.

• Quality/compliance: First contact resolution (where applicable) and scores from an agent's recorded interactions are the best measurements here, as is determining how often the agent escalates for assistance. Screen recording is also helpful to measure logging activity accuracy.

• Customer satisfaction: Can you say satisfaction survey? The customer's viewpoint of an interaction can often be quite different than that of an agent or supervisor.

• Schedule adherence: Superior service levels require people being available to take interactions-when scheduled!

KPIs to push up
• Customer loyalty/lead identification/revenue generated. Consider the cost of retaining an existing customer opposed to securing a new one. If agents consistently resolve complaints and “save” accounts, agree on a formula with upper management that recognizes retention value. If you identify leads, determine lead counts and their lead-to-sale rates. And if you sell products or services, measure revenue per interaction using a formula such as:

• Revenue Per Interaction = Total Revenue / [Number of Interactions x (Average Talk Time + Average After-Call Work]

• Cost per interaction. First, consider that the costs for e-mail and Web chat often vary from those per call, and that certain interactions are more time-consuming than others. Trend analyses can track costs in these areas. Second, keep in mind that not all cost increases are bad—especially when they correlate with an increase in revenue per interaction, better satisfaction ratings, etc.

• Customer satisfaction. Leverage satisfaction surveys and present results to upper managers on a regular basis. Surveys reflect the actual voice of the customer, and in turn reflect the tangible value of your contact center.

Other KPIs to push up are actually many of the same ones you push down. Productivity, quality/compliance, escalation of contacts, general accessibility, marketing data you pass on, etc.

The true value of your contact center
Collectively, KPI results present a balanced scorecard. For an agent, push-down KPIs help identify goals toward which to work, while for executive management the KPIs you push up can reflect your contact center's success. If you process leads, generate revenue, help retain customers and increase satisfaction levels, this is value your contact center contributes… and the executives of your company should be fully aware of it. CIS

Tim Passios has more than 16 years’ experience in the contact center industry and is the Director of Product
Management for Interactive Intelligence, Inc., a leading provider of business communications software for the contact center and enterprise with over 2,500 installations in more than 60 countries. For more information, contact [email protected] or 317-872-3000.

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