Published: August 10, 2015 | Comments
Ah, Data and Reporting! The Holy Grail of Contact Centers and arguably the most disputed and researched single Contact Center topic ever. Like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, we are on a valiant quest for the ideal – and elusive – Reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) solution.
Legend has it that The Holy Grail has special powers designed to provide happiness, eternal youth, and food in infinite abundance. While we don’t exactly expect a Reporting solution to provide eternal youth or any edibles, it certainly ties to happiness in most (if not all), contact centers. It should also provide food for thought in abundance in the contact center and possibly elsewhere in the business as well!
So, are there any guidelines that we can offer our knight Perceval to take with him on his quest for the best reporting and BI solution, so that he my return victoriously?
We strongly believe that in most contact centers, there are needs for tools providing various levels of sophistication in reporting and BI.
You will need access to reports that do not require a lot of customization; essentially, you want a solution that provides insight quickly and easily. Ideally, those reports should be simple to share with any level recipient in your organization, and not require a lot of up-front knowledge to execute. They should be formatted in a pleasing way, and anyone from agent to executive should be able to consume the information and get insights right away.
Chances are you will reach a point quite quickly, though, where pre-built reports – convenient as they are – prove to be too limiting. Once you understand the fundamentals and have the means to run and distribute basic reports with ease, you will likely want to take the next step in the reporting journey. And that next step usually leads to going beyond the innate limitations of pre-defined reports to a tool that allows report customization.
So, if you want business users – or any other users that are not reporting or data specialists – to customize their own reports, we suggest looking for three key things in your reporting solution:
- User-friendly Interface. In Aberdeen’s recent report on Self-Service Analytics, the message was loud and clear: any tool is only going to be used to its fullest if it provides an easy to use interface, maybe even point-and-click. Otherwise, you users will just get frustrated and in the end, your IT department or data analysts will end up customizing your reports, which adds unnecessary time and resource costs to your reporting efforts.
- Flexible User Profiles and Permissions. If more users within or even beyond the boundary of the contact center may access reporting, make sure your solution has an easy and convenient way to limit data access based on roles, functions and responsibilities. Data governance becomes more important with every additional user accessing your reporting system.
- Extensive Documentation and Support. Your solution must be well documented and supported. Make sure you have access to documentation such as a Data Dictionary or other means to understand how exactly your metrics are calculated. The questions will come, and you need to be prepared to point users to where they can find the answers to their questions, on their own.
The last step in your Reporting quest will actually take you beyond Reporting, into the realm of Business Intelligence (BI). In the Contact Center context, you could almost liken this to King Arthur’s sword Excalibur, which was said to convey sovereignty to its rightful owner. Done correctly, BI can provide tremendous insights into not only what’s going on in your contact center, but also how the contact center ties into the operational fabric of your business.
When investigating a contact center solution you should make sure that for advanced reporting or BI it provides you with the ability to access all of your contact center data directly. That will allow you to fully customize your reporting (including things like generating custom metrics, and pivoting on your data). Direct data access will also allow you to combine contact center data with other data sources in your business, to provide true Business Intelligence. Direct access to contact center data will require more extensive data and reporting knowledge, and will likely be done by a data analyst role. Just make sure that they can get access to the data without the need to engage Professional Services from your contact center provider. This is not to say that there should not be an option to contract out custom reporting projects if you decide that that is the right step to take; we just believe that there should be other venues to achieve this as well.
We are certain that once your knight sets out to find the Holy Reporting Grail, he will return from his quest with a reporting and business intelligence solution that serves you and your operation well in the short term, allows you to gain deep insight into your contact center operations, and strategically positions you for the implementation of true Business Intelligence in the longer term – or, the Holy Grail of Reporting, rediscovered!