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Expert's Angle: The Link Between Key Performance Indicators and Workforce Optimization

A contact center's Key Performance Indicators an impact on the entire organization. Workforce optimization solutions provide the tools needed within the contact center to compile and improve KPIs, so cohesion between the two is necessary.

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) provide useful measurement tools for organizations to define their business success through a series of interconnected benchmarks. Each KPI should be assigned to a goal with a target value to be achieved; depending on the attainability, management can then institute concrete measures to improve performance.

KPIs can also alert management to areas of the business that they may be overlooking and spur objective discussions on these topics. Finally, KPIs can motivate staff, create business transparency and give early warning to developing trends. For these purposes, KPIs should be “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time sensitive.

Compiling KPIs

Compared to statistics, KPIs provide measurements or indicators of success by examining key business processes or critical issues; statistics only provide an aggregated number regarding general issues and developments; they are part of a KPI. In addition, KPIs should be systematically collected and combined into an overall system focusing on major company objectives.

In addition to measuring the performance of key processes or departments, a good KPI must reflect that performance at a critical juncture. Furthermore, the KPI should define minimum and maximum limits of tolerable values. Historical data can provide a benchmark to assist in this effort.

The collection of KPIs should include a healthy mix of economical and process-oriented statistics as suggested and measured by various departments. Without the support of individual departments within the enterprise, you will encounter operational difficulties in obtaining feedback and implementing the required optimizations.

Balanced Scorecards

Determining the best KPI system involves combining different dimensions of financial and non- financial data. In 1992, the balanced scorecard was created by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton at Harvard University to provide a holistic company overview with correlations among finances, strategy, processes and skills.

The classic balanced scorecard measures four dimensions:

1. Financial: How do we look to shareholders?
2. Customer: How do customers see us?
3. Internal business processes: What must we excel at?
4. Learning and growth: How can we continue to improve and create value?

Typically, a KPI system is built from the financial dimension outwards, finishing with learning and growth, focused on human capital. For each area, you should create 5-to-10 goals, each one with “SMART” characteristics and target values.

KPIs Within Contact Centers

KPIs within a balanced scorecard are normally compiled from various systems and platforms. Yet while many companies emphasize their contact center as the door to their customers, their KPI system/ balanced scorecard often neglects it. The contact center provides a single point of interaction with customers, especially since its transformation from a call center to encompass additional channels such as fax, email, chat, social media, SMS and video.

The contact center receives information about market trends, customer demands, competitive information, and the success of campaigns before any other department, so we should use its real-time feedback as a source for immediate decisions to improve time-to-market and differentiate from competitors through superior customer service that influences customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Coherence Between KPIs and Workforce Optimization

Workforce optimization systems (WFO) deliver all existing information from the “moment of truth” -- the customer experience at the point of company contact. The WFO contains tools to manage and optimize staff, process and technologies at the direct customer contact point, while enabling the measurement of KPIs for inclusion in a balanced scorecard.

In addition to its reporting capability, WFO helps to change and improve key values and situations. For example, a rise in the KPI for the customer churn rate provides an indication of customer dissatisfaction, perhaps caused by a problem with a new product, service or campaign. Every contact center manager must immediately analyze this situation because it is six times more expensive to find a new customer than keep an existing one and tap their full potential.

Customers indicating a willingness to leave may be retained with a special offer and used to create a profile of high-risk individuals. Thus, the company´s contact center can react proactively, rather than just responding. As it is widely known, more customers keep silent about their dissatisfaction than the ones who complain.

In addition, a problem discovered in the contact center may have ramifications on processes and actions in the rest of the enterprise.

A Closer Look at WFO

WFO solutions are divided in different modules. The solution starts with call recording as the basis for all subsequent analysis. Then, quality monitoring provides information about the service level, compiling KPIs such as call volume, average handling time and agent performance, easily displayed in a dashboard.

By knowing the performance of the contact center and individual agents, supervisors can create and distribute customized training and coaching. A feedback module also asks customers about their opinion of the service level as well as other topics.

Speech and content analysis provides an important WFO innovation for contact centers with an otherwise unmanageable number of conversations. It can include keyword spotting, transcription and emotion detection to retrieve enterprise-wide information directly from the customer's point of view.

Returning to our customer churn example, speech analytics helps the contact center manager find relevant calls from customers via keyword spotting and emotion detection to create a profile of high-risk individuals. Direct customer feedback can be added to finalize the profile. By using best practices calls and profile information, you can then create eLearning sessions to train agents and set up specific targeted campaigns, managed in turn by WFO tools.

Contact centers represent a key department for the creation and measurement of KPI systems with an impact on the entire enterprise. These systems expand the measurement and control of customer service into almost all corporate areas instead of just contact center processes and customer consulting.

Workforce optimization solutions provide the tools needed within the contact center to compile and improve KPIs. Thus, the contact center is transformed from a cost center into a profit center.

Melanie A. Goncalves is Channel Manager for ASC telecom AG. www.asctelecom.com. [email protected].

MMelanie A. Goncalves Channel Manager for ASC telecom AG.