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Analyze This! Make Call Center Data Compelling

Data doesn't drive action unless you can present it in a way that’s meaningful to the actors. Here we look at some perspectives on the analytical skills that call center management requires today.

What sets successful call center managers and executives apart? A key differentiator is their ability to analyze and interpret the information gathered from call center metrics. Strong call center leaders look beyond the numbers to interpret the data to get more value for the organization out of each contact. Measuring metrics is important, but analyzing the data is critical to managing them.

"Business intelligence and call center analytics solutions are projected to experience year‐over‐year growth for the next several years," writes Carmit DiAndrea, vice president of analytics and client services for Customer Relationship Metrics, in her e-book Call Center Analytics Revealed. "The most successful organizations in the future will be those that are able to leverage their own data to gain insight into customer desires, behaviors, pain points and experiences, and act on those insights as a means of differentiating themselves from the competition."

In larger organizations, you might find designated analysts who conduct statistical analysis and/or data mining to provide insights into the meaning and drivers behind the numbers so that the right interventions can be introduced at the right times. Other organizations outsource business intelligence work. And in some, this critical role falls to the call center manager or executive.

No matter the organization's size or budget, call center leaders can sharpen their analytical skills and improve their ability to optimize overall performance based on contact center metrics. But where do you start?

Reporting: Who, What and When?

One building block of analysis is the knowledge of what to look at and when. With the growing complexity of call center work – new channels for customers to access the organization, for instance – there’s now more data than ever. Of course, that also means knowing what and when to share with others in the organization. Reporting structures and strategies will need to be reshaped.

"The answer is not to dump more on everyone, but to start thinking in terms of 'suites' of data – groupings that are targeted for a specific audience, that deliver the exact message that audience needs at the time they need it, and that drive the appropriate call to action given the results," writes consultant Jay Minnucci in a new whitepaper, Call Center Performance Metrics: Shaping Tomorrow's Reporting Strategy.

As an example of the need to delivery more customized metrics, Minnucci points to AHT (average handle time). "Yes, the Workforce Analyst will still need this number for every communication channel. Yet consider the irony of a supervisor measuring agent performance on public social media responses with AHT or a similar production standard. Remember, these are comments that weren't directed to us in the first place - we are actively going out and seeking them. If the key message we are going to send to our agents processing these is to do them quickly, the logical question would be 'Then why are you looking for them in the first place?' If the chief concern is speed of processing, the right answer is to simply stop the search. AHT, critical to the Workforce Analyst, can be deadly if misapplied by the social media supervisor."

How do you know what metrics are important and present how that information will be used to reach your call center's key improvement goals and assign specific action items to the appropriate people?

A critical first step, according to Minnucci, is to adopt guiding principles for the dissemination of performance data, such as:

  • Every metric has a value that expires quickly if not properly placed in front of the right audience at the right time in the right way.
  • The complete picture in one area of performance (quality, sales, productivity, etc.) will require a logically grouped set of metrics.
  • One metric can span different areas of performance.
  • Improperly used metrics can be far more damaging than no metrics at all.

Of course, the farther you take your call center analytics and reporting capabilities and strategies, the closer to consistently strong performance your center will be. But if this approach is new to you, start with the fundamentals of call center metrics and work your way forward.