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Q: I’ve been researching some of the new quality monitoring solutions now on the market, and they’re each impressive in their own way (including a couple from vendors our contact center currently works with). But I’d like your opinion. What would you look for most in choosing a monitoring application?

A: You’re right. The range of capability in the latest supervisory/quality monitoring applications is impressive-on-demand recording, screen capture, silent monitoring, agent scoring, monitoring for lines and queues, forecast views for workforce management, and operational reporting. Automated post-call customer surveys are also making the list in some cases.

But to answer your question, the deciding factor that would drive me (and most contact center managers) to choose a specific monitoring solution is centralization.

That is, will a solution provide all the monitoring functionality I need in a single environment? Or will it require a string of disconnected interfaces to oversee different contact management functions? Or, will it integrate to my existing system framework at all? These are unyielding questions for any vendor you talk to, including the ones who provide your current systems.
And don’t let a monitoring application’s color-coded charts and 3-D graphs sway you. As effective as graphic views are for supervision and quick decision-making, most every monitoring solution hitting the market these days is graphically oriented.

Bottom line, selecting the right solution comes down to getting everything a supervisor needs to keep interaction flows moving and make sure agents are as effective as possible. Supervisory processes vary from center to center, of course, but my take is that a monitoring solution should centralize these key capabilities:

Recording and agent scoring. A call recording application is invaluable in a contact center, particularly when it offers scoring features to grade interactions and an agent’s performance. But imagine the power of an integrated multimedia application that records e-mails and chat transcripts, too, along with an integrated workforce management module to structure agent schedules and rule-based recordings simultaneously. Disjointed monitoring systems don’t offer such integrated capability.

Real-time statistics and threshold alerts. Most monitoring applications track stats in real-time and issue alerts when agent performance and service levels aren’t being met. The question is, just how far do those statistics and alerts reach? In addition to agents and workgroups, a monitoring application should let you keep real-time tabs on ACD and IVR functions, queue activity, lines, outbound and blended campaigns, and the health of server resources for e-mail, web and other services. And whenever a queue reaches a threshold or an agent skates close to a regulatory violation, a monitoring solution should be equipped to issue rapid automated alerts such as SMS messages, visual and audio-based alerts and supervisory e-mails.

Multimedia monitoring. In contact centers that handle chats, e-mails and faxes alongside calls, supervisors need to view the activity for each media type inclusively to assess overall interaction volumes, response times, first contact resolution rates and so on. A supervisor can then better adjust flows and agent resources accordingly, incorporate skills-based and priority routing by interaction type, etc.

Screen monitoring. Monitoring and recording workstation screens serves multiple purposes, from confirming product orders and verifying account record data entries, to making sure agents are actually serving customers-and not playing solitaire.

Coaching. Recorded interactions will always be one of the most valuable agent training tools in the contact center. But continuous improvement requires tools such as whisper coaching and agent chat that also allow a supervisor to blindly instruct agents during a live interaction.

Historical reports. Reporting should cover every aspect of your contact center, seamlessly, and produce analytics that measure service levels at each touch point so you can improve operations as a whole. Unlike segmented monitoring systems, a single monitoring application centralizes reporting and lets a manager more collectively assess interaction channels, call attributes, agents, workgroups, trends and other factors to solidify each KPI link in the performance chain.

Workforce management. Workforce management is icing on the centralized monitoring cake. An integrated WFM application that brings forecasting, scheduling and adherence together with a monitoring app is every supervisor’s dream, especially when the same environment lets them base forecasting on historical ACD data, monitor adherence in real-time, and get automated alerts whenever an agent or interaction process isn’t performing acceptably.

Or I should say, a supervisor’s dream is a quality monitoring solution that brings multimedia, screen monitoring, coaching, recording and scoring, real-time statistics, threshold alerts, WFM and end-to-end reporting together… in one application.

Tim Passios is Director of Product Marketing for Interactive Intelligence Inc. and has more than 16 years experience in the contact center industry. Interactive Intelligence is a leading provider of IP business communications software and services for the contact center and the enterprise, with more than 2,500 installations in nearly 70 countries. For more information, contact Interactive Intelligence at [email protected] or (317) 872-3000.

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