Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Vpi Datamonitor   Contact Center Optimization In A Challenging Economy
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Vpi Datamonitor Contact Center Optimization In A Challenging Economy

720

Published on

The challenges of the current economy are forcing enterprises to rethink their approach to customer service as customer …

The challenges of the current economy are forcing enterprises to rethink their approach to customer service as customer
retention comes to the fore. Enterprises must align contact center operations to new corporate objectives while keeping
costs low. In the contact center, complexities have vastly increased with the growing number of communication channels,
such as phone, Web, SMS, email and web chat, which make customer service more difficult to manage. Business agility is
paramount as enterprises strive to maintain the right balance in keeping customer satisfaction high and operational costs
low. Enterprises face the ongoing challenge of balancing efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in a down economy
where efficiency more naturally becomes the focus. Using workforce optimization technologies (WOTs) to maintain a closer
equilibrium between efficiency and effectiveness places the business in a healthy position and leaves it well positioned for when the tide changes.

Published in: Business, Education
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
720
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
28
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy A Datamonitor white paper Sponsored by Publication Date: August 2009 INTRODUCTION The challenges of the current economy are forcing enterprises to rethink their approach to customer service as customer retention comes to the fore. Enterprises must align contact center operations to new corporate objectives while keeping costs low. In the contact center, complexities have vastly increased with the growing number of communication channels, such as phone, Web, SMS, email and web chat, which make customer service more difficult to manage. Business agility is paramount as enterprises strive to maintain the right balance in keeping customer satisfaction high and operational costs low. Enterprises face the ongoing challenge of balancing efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in a down economy where efficiency more naturally becomes the focus. Using workforce optimization technologies (WOTs) to maintain a closer equilibrium between efficiency and effectiveness places the business in a healthy position and leaves it well positioned for when the tide changes. WOTs, also known as 'WFO', help enterprises use the contact center strategically, rather than just as a hub to field calls. WOTs encompass a number of different applications, all with the common purpose of improving efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center. Call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, contact center analytics and eCoaching all fall under the broader WOTs category. Over the past five years, WOTs have evolved as enterprises require a deeper level understanding of the customer, as well as greater efficiency in the contact center. WOTs comprise a greater number of features and functions today than those of five years ago. Enterprises typically purchase WOTs as an integrated suite solution rather than as individual point solutions. At the same time, vendors have developed new technologies, including speech analytics, desktop analytics, and automated customer surveys that may be added to WOTs suites as needed. This white paper serves as a guide for enterprises looking to find the proper balance between efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center, which should be ultimately reflected in increased profitability and improved strategic position in the marketplace. It will enable readers to: • Identify key market trends that are shaping customer service; • Understand the challenges of balancing efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center; • Gain perspective into how WOTs can help enterprises manage efficiency and effectiveness; • Learn about Datamonitor’s strategic recommendations for enterprises deploying WOTs solutions. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 1
  • 2. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy THE CURRENT CONTACT CENTER ENVIRONMENT In response to economic pressures and reduced consumer spending, the contact center landscape has evolved. Enterprises recognize that while cost efficiencies are important, customer service and the contact center play a significant role in improving customer retention. When new customers are hard to come by, satisfaction among existing customers becomes the key to a successful business during a difficult economy. Contact centers must link themselves more tightly with the rest of the enterprise in order to reduce informational silos and to provide customers with accurate information. There are a number of trends influencing contact center’ strategies and technology purchasing decisions: • Enterprises have cut their technology spending – Unsurprisingly, the economic downturn has created a dip in spending and enterprises now have smaller IT budgets. Likewise, consumer confidence has declined along with consumer spending. As a result, enterprises are reconsidering planned technology investments and trying to lower capital expenditures. It is important to get the most from existing technology and resources. • Cutting costs and customer retention are a priority – In a sluggish economy, enterprises focus on customer retention rather than customer acquisition. Customer service improvements will increase satisfaction, retention rates and first call resolution. For example, when agents answer customers' queries during the first interaction, fewer customers will call back into the contact center, and this in turn reduces costs. At the same time, many enterprises face increasing commoditization of their products and services. In industries such as financial services and communications, customer service becomes a key differentiator. • The challenge of efficiency versus effectiveness – In a difficult economy, enterprises focus on cutting costs which results in a greater focus upon the efficiency of the contact center. By improving metrics such as average call handle time and cost per call they often neglect customer experience and effectiveness of the interaction. Contact centers find it difficult to balance both efficiency and effectiveness. Improving customer satisfaction also drives lower costs: it indirectly assists with customer retention and first call resolution. • Organizations need better understanding of customers’ reasons for calling – In order to improve customer retention, reduce costs, and raise customer satisfaction, enterprises need to better understand customers’ reasons for initiating contact. They must monitor agent-customer interactions closely to discover customers' reasons for calling and ensure customers receive first-rate support. Enterprises also need to equip agents with the proper tools to handle queries. Managers should monitor agent behavior in order to find skill gaps and provide the appropriate training. This helps contact centers improve agent performance and provide a better customer experience. • As regulations tighten, enterprises must closely monitor information exchange and storage – In response to the financial crisis, governments have increased regulations, particularly in the financial services industries. Enterprises need to connect their contact center operations with the back-office to ensure that billing and customer information are accurate. They must also keep an eye on the way in which agents use and share customer information. CRM, unified agent desktop and WOTs technology increase efficiency and reduce silos. Optimization of contact center operations through these tools helps with compliance, liability protection and quality assurance. • Distributed contact centers and at-home agents are more common – Enterprises are increasingly using at- home agents and offshore contact centers. Flexibility in employment locations helps save on costs for work Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 2
  • 3. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy space and offers a wider pool of skilled staff, making it very likely that this trend will continue. However, a dispersed workforce offers different challenges for enterprises: agents need to be connected and have access to the same information, regardless of location. At the same time, managers require information on agent locations, availability and skill-sets in order to schedule their workforce to meet customer demands. Contact centers need the ability to manage agents working offshore as if they were onshore in order to provide a consistent customer experience. EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY CHALLENGES FOR CONTACT CENTER OPERATIONS The following figure represents Datamonitor’s view of the changing contact center environment. The bullet points detail the challenges and key performance indicators that enterprises use to benchmark contact center performance. The pendulum is swinging from the boom economy’s focus on effectiveness (quality, customer satisfaction/experience, agent retention) to the down economy’s focus on efficiency (costs and operations). In the current economic environment, enterprises see efficiency and customer retention as absolute necessities to remain competitive, whereas in a robust economy, enterprises use customer experience to drive growth and new customer acquisition. Figure 1: Effectiveness and efficiency in the changing contact center environment Effectiveness Efficiency • Contact quality monitoring score • # contacts offered and handled Quality Costs and operations Costs and operations • Accuracy (of information, transactions, quotes, • Avg talk time etc.) • Avg post-call work / wrap time • Appropriate use of wrap-up • Customer survey satisfaction rating • Avg handle time C.Sat and exp • Percent of complaint calls • Occupancy rate • Service levels • Cost per call / email / chat • Avg speed of answer • Percent of time spent on non-call • Number of calls escalated to supervisor activities • Backlog (email) • Contact forecast precision level • Avg time to resolve email Agent retention • Avg number of contacts handled per • Task completion rates hour • Call transfer rates • Abandon rate • Agent attrition rates • Automation rates • Agent absence and vacation percentages • Employee satisfaction survey rating Thriving economy Down economy Source: Datamonitor DATAMONITOR Historically, enterprises used contact centers to drive sales of new business through cold calling or merely as an information center to field customer queries. However, the contact center now acts as a strategic customer service center. Enterprises realize that the contact center is the main point of contact that customers have with their business. It therefore represents the most visible face of the corporate brand. Initially, enterprises deployed IVR systems to deflect calls and reduce agent costs. They used metrics such as call handling time and number of calls answered to determine how well contact centers were performing. This strategy was unsuccessful in building lasting customer relationships as agents were Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 3
  • 4. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy more focused on reducing call time than providing customers with accurate and informative answers. It led to a swing in the opposite direction to effectiveness and the customer experience. Enterprises looked at ways to improve the agent– customer relationship and customer satisfaction ratings. However, the focus has begun to swing back to efficiency. The challenging economy forces enterprises to once again try to reduce the cost per call and agent costs. Datamonitor believes that successful enterprises must focus on striking a balance between effectiveness and efficiency in order to succeed in today’s extremely challenging business climate. This balance is the only way to successfully meet today’s business imperatives including cost reduction, customer retention, doing more with less and risk mitigation. In the world of contact centers, companies should invest in workforce optimization technologies that help bring efficiency and effectiveness together. This gives companies a competitive advantage over rivals that choose to focus solely on efficiency and enables them to better position themselves for the future. When the economy improves, the companies that have considered both efficiency and effectiveness will be better prepared to focus on customer experience issues. UTILIZING WORKFORCE OPTIMIZATION TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES Using WOTs in an economic downturn to balance efficiency and effectiveness Although enterprises are, by necessity, taking a more tentative approach to IT spending due to trimmed back IT budgets, they should continue to prioritize contact center investments. Because contact centers act as the primary face of a company, a poor customer experience reflects badly on the company and the brand. Enterprises must monitor the quality of interactions to ensure the customer experience is consistent and agents represent the company well. In addition, enterprises must adopt more stringent risk management processes as a response to increased regulations and compliance issues. Companies should establish business rules to determine the usage for confidential, high-risk information, such as credit card details or health records. Investments in analytics, workforce optimization and outbound communications technologies will help enterprises succeed. The following WOTs technologies will help increase efficiency and effectiveness in this era of economic uncertainty: • Interaction recording and quality monitoring (QM) – In many industries, regulations compel companies to record conversations and assess a select number of calls to ensure that agents are following procedures. Enterprises should handle customer information with care and store confidential data correctly. Governments closely monitor and regulate companies in financial services, healthcare and telecommunications. A QM system helps managers ensure that agents adhere to regulations. Strict compliance requirements make it crucial to implement fault-tolerant systems for uninterrupted performance and disaster recovery. Even companies in industries that do not face such stringent regulatory rules still have a need for call recording. Managers can use the recordings and associated data to monitor agent performance, gain insights into the type and outcomes of calls handled by contact centers and improve operations. Those enterprises that have already invested in logging and automated QM should consider deploying additional WOTs, such as workforce and performance management, to get greater value from call recordings and stored data. • Workforce management (WFM) – WFM allows enterprises to more accurately schedule staff based on agent skill sets and customer demand. Contact centers can use the forecasting and scheduling tools in WFM, to better utilize their workforce and save costs by having the right number of agents working relevant to demand, which is likely to change depending on peak and off-peak call volumes. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 4
  • 5. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy • Performance management (PM) – Contact centers deploy performance management to understand and improve the performance of both agents and teams across multiple departments and geographically dispersed sites. Scorecards, dashboards and dynamic reports allow managers and supervisors to analyze and understand the performance of individual agents, teams, groups and the overall contact center. They use PM to consolidate data from multiple business systems and monitor activity against key performance indicators (KPIs). PM systems have also been successfully used to increase intra-day productivity of front-line staff by displaying their personalized KPIs and messages in real time. Enterprises use this technology jointly with WFM and eCoaching, to assess agent’ skills and to schedule online training sessions to address weaknesses. They can route calls to those agents that have the most appropriate skill set. Consequently, customers have their queries answered without any transfers, which improves both first call resolution and customer satisfaction. • eCoaching – eCoaching applications automatically assign online training to agents to get them up to speed on areas of weakness. When combined with PM, eCoaching helps contact center managers identify skill shortages and arrange training through electronic educational material, messages, alerts, and pre-shift announcements delivered to agent desktops. With personalized eCoaching, agents can better deal with queries and their performance improves. This creates a better working environment improving staff retention and removing cost from the business. Advanced eCoaching tools now include rules-based automatic triggering of training delivery, based on scorecard results. Personalized training is pushed right to the agent’s desk during agent downtime. For example, if an agent constantly has to refer calls related to billing, the system suggests training on the billing software and adds it into the agent’s calendar during a convenient off-peak time. In addition to these technologies, contact centers should consider using real-time and interaction analytics to better understand their customers. Although these technologies were traditionally thought of as luxuries rather than necessities, in a time of economic turmoil they help with understanding customer needs and drive greater customer retention. Desktop analytics, for example, allows enterprises to pull valuable data and screen events from employee desktop applications. Screen information accessed during the call is associated with each recorded interaction, for accurate interpretation of what the call was about and its outcome. Leveraging this data, call recordings can be automatically classified and prioritized for follow-up. When anomalies in call patterns and outcomes are identified, management receives notifications. Automated, business-goal driven QM systems deliver a sample of the high-value calls and evaluation forms to managers and quality assurance analysts for analysis, so they can quickly discover and rapidly address problems that plague the contact center. Integrating QM with interaction analytics allows contact centers to maintain the current sample size of calls for monitoring, while increasing the business impact. Desktop analytics is also being used to comply with increasingly complex privacy compliance regulations including PCI- DSS (Payment Card Industry - Data Security Standard). Desktop analytics can identify calls that contain sensitive information that should be protected from access or replay by unauthorized users, such as consumers’ credit card numbers, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, references and family members. Deploying integrated WOTs as part of a suite will provide more value to enterprises WOTs are becoming more sophisticated and are increasingly sold as integrated suite solutions. Individual point solutions target specific efficiency or effectiveness goals, for example WFM facilitates agent scheduling to create a more streamlined workforce, addressing efficiency needs. Enterprises employ WFM alongside PM to schedule agents based on skills and Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 5
  • 6. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy ensure the contact center offers the appropriate array of knowledge to answer customer queries, thus improving first call resolution. The right combination of WOTs will bring more value to enterprises as depicted in Figure 2. The advantages of deploying a suite include faster upgrades, smoother new technology additions and better integration. For example, an enterprise requiring logging, QM and WFM may want to deploy analytics at a later date; it is typically quicker and more cost effective to add a new analytics module to the existing suite rather than deploy a point solution. In addition, vendors now offer WOTs packages designed to address specific pain points, such as reducing customer churn, improving first call resolution or improving agent efficiency. These pain points are even more crucial in a down economy. Figure 2: Suite solutions versus point solutions Source: Datamonitor DATAMONITOR STRATEGIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENTERPRISES WITH CONTACT CENTER OPERATIONS Enterprises should invest in WOTs to help strike a balance between efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center. They must match their available resources to the demand and schedule agents to best meet the spikes and valleys of call volume. Equipping agents to better deal with queries will improve first call resolution and drive down costs. The following bullet points are Datamonitor’s recommendations for enterprises looking to deploy WOTs and improve processes in the contact center. • Contact center operations should be both efficient and effective – Traditionally, enterprises focus on either efficiency and cost control or effectiveness and customer service. However, it is important for contact centers to focus on creating a balance between the two. They must provide exceptional customer service in order to stand Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 6
  • 7. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy out as a strong brand in tough times but also ensure that internal performance is monitored and efficient. Contact centers must take the middle path, without swinging too far to either extreme of the pendulum. • Look for packaged solutions that address business needs – Because enterprises often face similar issues regardless of industry, WOTs vendors offer packaged solutions to address these common issues. Such packages help improve first call resolution, employee development or customer retention. Enterprises should select solutions that match their specific business concerns. Packaged solutions reduce deployment times and the cost of services. Therefore, it makes strong economic sense to explore such options in difficult times. By directly addressing measurable business drivers with technology, enterprises will also find it easier to monitor results and show a faster ROI. • Assess the need for suite solutions versus point solutions – Enterprises should consider the benefits of deploying a suite of WOTs technologies: suites provide a more tightly integrated offering, lower implementation fees and simpler deployment. Suites also make it easier to upgrade and add advanced capabilities such as PM or interaction analytics, as required. However, enterprises that want to find best-of-breed products or those that are looking for particular functionality and do not have the need or budget to deploy the full range of WOTs should consider point solutions. Enterprises should prepare for changes in the market. Consolidation among vendors means that competition is increasing and price points for interaction analytics and real-time reporting solutions will come down. As interaction analytics solutions become more competitively priced and are packaged to address key business concerns, enterprises should seriously consider investing in these technologies. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 7
  • 8. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy APPENDIX Definitions Workforce Optimization Technologies WOTs (also known simply as 'workforce optimization', or 'WFO') encompass a number of different applications all with the common purpose of improving efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center. • Contact center analytics (CCA) - Datamonitor defines CCA as a range of optimization technologies that includes agent and operations-focused analytics and performance management (PM). Scorecards and dashboards are used to understand the performance of individual agents, teams, groups and overall contact center performance. Activity is compared and monitored against key performance indicators (KPIs). PM links objectives to completed tasks to ensure a correlation between individual objectives and organizational objectives. In addition, data and speech from customer-agent interactions is analyzed to discover calling patterns and to find inefficiencies and issues in the contact center. PM and analytics are often linked to eCoaching applications, which suggest training for agents when skills gaps are discovered. • Logging – a call logging system is a recording solution that allows a conversation to be recorded as a voice file while a call is in progress. • Quality monitoring (QM) – the recording of all or some of the interactions (both voice and screen capture) from the contact center for later assessment by managers. • Workforce management (WFM) – the scheduling and forecasting of agent resources in the contact center environment. • eCoaching – the automated delivery of electronic education material to agent desktops. • Desktop analytics (DA) – a method of monitoring the desktop activity of employees and capturing and associating screen data and events to interaction recordings to classify interactions for targeted evaluation, reveal process issues and opportunities for improvement, and provide real-time notifications and alerts. • Speech analytics (SA) – a method of analyzing recorded audio by content. Its principal use is as a search engine for audio, allowing users to search for words or phrases in the calls coming into their contact center. Trends can usually be represented graphically, if desired, and the user can choose to drill down and listen to relevant calls. • Contact center – Datamonitor defines a contact center by the following features: • An automatic call distributor (ACD) or private branch exchange (PBX) with equivalent functionality overlaid (or soft ACD); • 10 or more agent positions (where agent positions are desks from which agents make and/or receive telephone calls to and/or from internal or external customers; this is taken to imply that the call in question involves communication between the agent and the customer). • Interactive voice response (IVR) – IVR technology analyzes a sequence of spoken and/or dual-tone multi- frequency (DTMF) commands and reproduces voice prompts to the caller. The call is then routed via a switch or Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 8
  • 9. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy serviced wholly within an IVR that is linked to a database. The IVR interacts with key systems such as PBXs and ACDs through analog ports, digital ports and local- and wide-area network (LAN/WAN) connectivity. IVR uses either speech or DTMF. About VPI VPI (Voice Print International) offers a wide range of WOTs technologies, covering all major bases except WFM, for which it partners with Pipkins and integrates with other best-of-breed WFM systems. It utilizes employee schedules, adherence and other WFM metrics throughout its product suite to help optimally schedule eLearning and coaching assignments. The vendor is particularly strong in providing call recording and QM. It acquired Syntora in 2006, and gained real-time analytics capabilities, reporting and scorecards, eLearning and a business rules engine. The VPI EMPOWER solution is an integrated, modular suite of applications accessible through a user-customizable Web portal. The solution incorporates components for call, screen and data recording, interaction analytics, quality evaluation and eLearning, as well as real-time PM. VPI’s unique capabilities include interactive heat maps and real-time desktop tickers with KPI displays and notifications for fast access to actionable intelligence. In 2009, VPI introduced its out-of-the-box solutions across its entire WOTs suite, delivering more than 160 KPI metrics and over 50 reports as standard issue, in order to provide immediate value. This out- of-the-box design enables VPI's solutions to be implemented remotely, quickly and cost effectively. Customization of data collection, analysis and interpretation is also available as an option. About Datamonitor The Datamonitor Group is an independent, premium business information and market analysis company that assists clients with operational and strategic decision-making. We are a world-leading provider of premium global business information, delivering independent data, analysis and opinion across the Automotive, Consumer Markets, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Logistics & Express, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare, Retail, Technology and Telecoms industries. Combining our industry knowledge and experience, we assist over 6,000 of the world’s leading companies make better strategic and operational decisions. Authors Aphrodite Brinsmead, Associate Analyst, Customer Interaction Technologies Ian Jacobs, Senior Analyst, Customer Interaction Technologies Disclaimer All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Datamonitor plc. The facts of this report are believed to be correct at the time of publication but cannot be guaranteed. Please note that the findings, conclusions and recommendations that Datamonitor delivers will be based on information gathered in good faith from both primary and secondary sources, whose accuracy we are not always in a position to guarantee. As such Datamonitor can accept no liability whatever for actions taken based on any information that may subsequently prove to be incorrect. Contact Center Optimization in a Challenging Economy Published 08/2009 © Datamonitor. This brief is a licensed product and is not to be photocopied Page 9

×