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November 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 11
UC Unplugged

Is My UC Rollout Working? Structured Reporting Can Offer Answers

Have you ever had a day like this? Yesterday I was really busy meeting with people, all day. It was non-stop. I must have answered a hundred emails, tapped out dozens of IMs, and taken calls with employees, partners, management, and individuals outside the company, too. Barely a moment to catch my breath. But then, at the end of the day, I was left wondering — What did I actually accomplish? Who did I help?

The potential of unified communications (UC) is not just to have people answer questions, but to satisfy information needs — not just connecting people, but connecting them with a purpose. And while it may feel too ambitious to know if all our daily interactions are useful and efficient, this is exactly the kind of objective that contact centers have been achieving successfully for years.

As you’ve seen in previous columns, it’s my view that the contact center has a lot to teach the rest of the enterprise about bringing communications and interactions into alignment with corporate goals. For example, a contact center agent might field as many as one hundred calls, emails and chats a day from customers looking for answers. In this case, if the corporate goal is excellent customer service, these interactions should align with that goal, and how companies measure that success is determined by a specific set of metrics.

Quality monitoring, recording, and performance management tools are all used in the contact center to measure and pull information from interactions. Metrics and results are transformed into forecasts, schedules, analyzed calls, summarized operational statistics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), alerts and trend analysis information.

Taking these ideas and applying them in the enterprise— pulling and synchronizing quality data from applications and voice and data channels— might really give insight into whether or not UC interactions are efficient and timely. Your company has many resident experts — knowledge workers assigned to share their expertise with others to get a certain job done. When these experts are successfully connected with other employees, you expect those interactions to be professional and timely, but that’s typically not tracked in today’s enterprise environment.

For example, there could be a situation where a software salesperson is writing up a proposal for a prospect, who needs to speak to someone in engineering or the architecture group to make sure they’ve configured the client’s system properly. It could take days for someone to respond to an email or they could even ignore an IM. Wouldn’t an organization be really interested in how satisfied the sales teams are with the engineering team’s responsiveness and thoroughness when it comes to answering questions?

KPIs that can measure employee productivity and overall satisfaction with the transaction have the potential to help answer these questions and drive behavior that will ensure the company stays on goal. A company could apply these metrics to calls between employees or between experts and customers to promote winning behavior.

With recording, monitoring, and measuring interactions between employees, managers could do root cause analysis, teach best practices, and improve interactions internally and externally. By integrating this aggregated knowledge of skill gaps and expectations, along with near-real-time reports of actual performance compared to goals, these tools can provide a way to use presence to align the enterprise and business objectives.

Additionally, for the more unstructured interactions that occur throughout the enterprise, survey tools and speech analytics would ensure that your communications are hitting the mark. For example, if you’re an HR person who needs to answer compensation questions, employees might be asked to rate how well you satisfied their queries on a scale from 1 to 10. This is the equivalent of a 360-degree performance review, with a broad cross-section of employees and customers providing the feedback. These surveys can become a transformational tool when aligned with compensation.

Managing a UC strategy to connect experts, employees and customers for optimal business results can be tough. By setting expectations and providing tools for measuring feedback, companies have the opportunity to drive behavior that will help them better meet their ultimate business goals. These tools can also make the entire process much more reproducible, while driving efficiencies.

With the right metrics, we can have assurance that all our busy days are really accomplishing something — not just more communication, but more useful communication. IT

Mike Sheridan is Senior Vice President, Strategy and Marketing of Aspect (News - Alert) Software, Inc., the world’s largest company solely focused on unified communications for the contact center.

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