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Customer Interaction Solutions
October 2006 - Volume 25 / Number 5

Enhance Performance In CRM And Customer Interaction Through Analytics And Workforce Management


Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

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People often ask me, “How can you write on so many diverse topics such as advanced technology, CRM, hiring and training, IP contact center, advanced speech technology, marketing, positioning and differentiation, integrated marketing and cutting-edge technology on performance enhancement, to name a few?” I say, “If you pioneered the concept of telemarketing, contact center, CRM center and promoted the hell out of the industry for the last 25 years, and if you actually and genuinely care about the industry and want to write authoritative articles about the industry, then it shouldn’t be that difficult!”

Business Performance Enhancement
In focus today is the ALL IMPORTANT topic of performance enhancement, which comes under the umbrella of workforce management. Cutting-edge technology in call center business performance management and analytics have truly revolutionized workforce management and workforce optimization.

To be sure, the modern technology available today for contact center/CRM business performance management is extremely complex. Unless you have a solid technical and industry background, you will have difficulty understanding the complex new technology concepts. Fortunately, the vendors involved understand that the only way to market their high-tech product is via “Marketing Through Education.” And frankly, there is NO other way. So please don’t look for short cuts!

Going Forward, Workforce Management and Performance Enhancement
Will Be the Ultimate Differentiators

Sophisticated and truly unparalleled performance enhancements and other major contributions to the contact/CRM center are so enormous that no company can exist without them!!

I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by John Kaiser, Vice President of Contact Center and Enterprise at NICE Systems, Inc., on contact center business performance management. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with the depth of this advanced technology, including analytics, and the vitally important contributions that these cutting-edge technologies can provide to any enterprise.

Research Led To Confusion
In preparation for this editorial, I studied the online information from all vendors mentioned in this outlook from the standpoint of a buyer. Frankly, while I found the information useful, I was at times confused when it came to buying “the right workforce management system.” That is why I asked our respected colleague, John Kaiser, Vice President of NICE Systems, to write the following sidebar called, “Demystifying Contact Center Business Performance Management.”

Workforce Management Vendors
Speaking of vendors, fortunately, there are several major providers of workforce management products and services. Most offer a wide array of products, although some appear to have a slightly different approach to the general topic of performance enhancement and workforce management. The following companies offer workforce management solutions to the call/CRM center marketplace.

For more information about workforce management solutions or to contact these companies, please e-mail [email protected].

Workforce Management Companies
• Amcat
• Aspect Software
• BCE Elix
• Calabrio (now Spanlink Communications Inc.)
• CH Consulting
• Envision Inc.
• Fused Solutions
• Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc.
• GMT Corp.
• IEX Corp. (a NICE Systems company)
• Informiam
• Interactive Intelligence
• InVision Software AG
• Kronos
• Latigent, LLC
• Left Bank Solutions, Inc.
• NICE Systems
• Opus Group (a Verint company)
• Performix Technologies
• Solution Made Easy (a partnership between Pipkins, Voice Print, Syntora and Amae Software Inc.)
• Salesnet, Inc.
• Sendia Corp.
• Symon Communications
• Texas Digital
• Tigerpaw Software
• Verint Systems
• Witness Systems

Demystifying Contact Center
Business Performance Management

By John Kaiser,
Vice President of Contact Center and Enterprise,
NICE Systems

Gone are the days of operating centers by the seat of your pants using a handful of ACD reports telling you how long customers waited on hold and how many calls were abandoned.

Successful contact center business management today requires a higher level of sophistication, more advanced methodologies as well as appropriate software tools. It is no longer enough to just manage the contact center or its workforce. Today’s complexities call for paying attention to the entire set of business operations within the center as well as to customer issues and opportunities.

Make no mistake, the stakes are very high. As the frontline for customer communications, the contact center can and does play a critical role in the overall success of the business, and it deserves an appropriate level of managerial attention as well as investment in the proper tools. What does it take to do this?

Key Performance Indicators
First and perhaps most important is to establish a link between corporate goals and those of the contact center. If one of the company’s goals is to increase revenue per customer then an appropriate upsell strategy should be put in place. If reducing customer churn is the corporate goal, then a similar strategy should be implemented.

To be effective, these strategies must be comprehensive. They must include measurable and attainable goals, appropriate training programs as well as internal processes and procedures that allow agents to do what they need to do for your customers.

Corporate goals integrated with the contact center can be reflected in key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs help the organization define and measure their progress. Establishing the right KPIs requires analysis of the business strategy, setting the appropriate goals and getting agreement from the various stakeholders as to how those goals will be met.

Today’s contact center business performance management software provides easy-to-use dashboards targeted toward specific users based on their job functions. Each dashboard, whether it is for a supervisor in the contact center or a business analyst elsewhere in the enterprise, delivers the right information, at the right time, in a format that allows that person to perform at a higher level. By consolidating information from various sources, combining the data into KPIs and presenting the information appropriately, these solutions help improve productivity, increase revenue, raise customer satisfaction, reduce agent and customer turnover while creating an important link between a contact center’s performance and the corporate goals.

Insight From Customer Interactions
To further improve contact center and overall business performance, it is necessary to find new sources of customer insight. These insights can be used to identify areas of customer pain as well as opportunity. Using these data allows you to respond faster and more appropriately to solve customer issues and detect trends much sooner than in the past. This way you can tailor programs more closely to actual customer demands.

Recent and ongoing developments in multimedia analytics not only make this easier to do but open new avenues for improvement that never existed before. Transactional analytics have been around for years and can offer excellent ways to improve performance and begin to predict future trends. Transactions are only part of picture, however.

Interactions between agents and customers represent the “rest of the story.” Through the use of tools like speech analytics and word spotting, we can learn what customers are really thinking and doing. We know when they mention competitors’ names, when they are upset, when they’ve been transferred too many times, put on hold too long and when the agent and the customer “talk over” each other.

These important insights derived from the customer interactions are invaluable — not only to contact center management but to others across the enterprise. Finance can learn more about why customers are not paying their bills. Marketing will gain a better understanding of how customers respond to their campaigns. IT and operations can learn ways to improve processes and systems. Sales can better understand who they’re competing against.

As these analytical tools have gotten more sophisticated, we can “see” what agents do on screen within the various applications they use while servicing customers. This helps us further understand what customers want and need. For example, when we see agents checking the remaining time on a contract, we know they are at risk of churn. When we see agents “stumbling around” their desktop, we know there is a need for additional training. Last but not least, we can also extract data from these applications such as customer numbers, and use the information for further analysis or to capture it for later use.

These are only a few of the many initiatives that can be taken as you strive to make the contact center a more strategic part of the organization. With contact center business performance management technology, you’ll begin to improve your entire business.

John Kaiser is the Vice President of Contact Center and Enterprise at NICE Systems Inc., (news - alert) a global provider of quality monitoring, liability recording and interaction analytics solutions. NICE recently acquired workforce management supplier IEX Corp. and performance management industry player Performix Technologies. He can be reached at [email protected].

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at http://www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via email at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.

For more information about workforce management solutions or to contact the companies listed on Table 1, please e-mail [email protected].

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