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Enkata On Performance Analytics Trends, Issues
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July 07, 2010

Enkata On Performance Analytics Trends, Issues

By Brendan B. Read
Senior Contributing Editor

With news reports that the American economic recovery is beginning to sputter, what with the stimulus money having been spent, but with little to follow up, and with budgets still being tight, companies need to dig deep to improve their own performance.

This is where performance analytics solutions applied via contact centers comes into play. They can identify opportunities to cut costs and grow sales and point to issues that can affect customer retention and referrals that action on which will reduce expenses and/or maintain and grow incomes.
Ron Hildebrandt is founder and senior vice president of marketing, Enkata, which makes analytics-driven performance management solutions. TMCnet recently interviewed him and here are his insights:
TMCnet: What changes are you seeing in the role of performance analytics in contact centers and what are the drivers?
RH: First, Enkata sees a continuing trend is that performance analytics applications provides actionable outcomes: solutions that draw a clear correlation between agent performance ratings, behaviors tied to performance and an action plan to improve those behaviors through personalized development plans that include coaching, training, and self-improvement tools.     
Secondly, Enkata also sees the emerging need and interest on the part of customers to build a comprehensive analytics plan for the contact center that includes performance analytics, speech, text and desktop analytics. Speech and text analytics will continue to receive a great deal of attention, but confusion arises as to the role they play in operational performance versus voice of the customer or customer sentiment insights. Performance analytics that correlates data from multiple sources will continue to drive KPI improvements and operational improvements.  And an emerging new category, desktop analytics, will provide an additional, net new data set for performance improvements tied to desktop efficiencies and skills.         
TMCnet: What do you see for example in the weights given to improve customer satisfaction and to cost control and is the shifting and why?
RH: There does seem to be a renewed emphasis on understanding and improving the customer experience. But as always, cost and ROI are key drivers in any decision. We see three trends:
1. Companies need a total view of the customer experience.  A total view crosses all channels including voice and web self-service and live assistance models
2. FCR [first call resolution] is emerging as the metric of choice to improve both the customer experience (customer satisfaction) while reducing costs by eliminating repeat calls
3. There continues to be growing deployment and reliance on analytics applications that provide insights into the customer experience, but that also correlate data to outcomes with an operational impact on agent performance, processes and continuous improvement       
TMCnet: Is there a greater use of them to maximize use of automated self-service i.e. IVR/speech rec and web channels to minimize live agent calls?
RH: There's clearly growing use of performance analytics to understand the total customer experience and particularly the self-service experience and as importantly, the experience when moving from self-service to live assistance and visa versa. Unlike speech or text analytics, performance analytics can correlate data from multiple sources including voice and web self -service applications. This total view supports operational changes across channels and across the self-service / live assistance experience. Where are the break downs in customer service? Is it a system, process, or human resource failure?
Ironically, self-service applications have placed higher demands on agent skills and performance by virtue of the higher saturation of complex, more challenging calls they now support. Higher skill requirements place added demands and dependencies on quality monitoring processes and agent development programs such as coaching, training, and self-improvement.  

TMCnet: What impacts if any are there from end-customers' increased use of wireless and social media are having on the demand for and the areas to be analyzed? Is there for example a greater need for text analytics and integrated speech and text analytics?
RH: Yes, but not simply the integration of speech and text analytics. Both of these techniques combined still only provide a limited view of the customer experience focused on voice of the customer issues and customer sentiment. And yes, speech and text analytics are restricted to specific channels, which is why the need for integration: speech for voice channels; text for e-mail and chat.  
Another emerging capability is desktop analytics which is focused on agent behaviors at the point of customer transactions: the agent desktop. Both transaction based data and agent behaviors can be captured using this technique.  And lastly, there's performance analytics which pulls data from a range of sources including channel-based data to quantify operational KPIs like FCR and uncover operational issues.   
The integration of data from multiple sources and these multiple analytics applications is a demanding, new requirement to create a total view of the customer experience. Those applications, such as performance analytics that can consolidate data from multiple enterprise and channel sources and distill information from 100 percent of calls, will likely emerge as the core analytics platforms moving forward. 

TMCnet: Are you seeing customers seeking higher quality service, including shorter calls, clearer enunciation, more empathy and understanding from contact center agents?
RH: I'll add to the list a specific issue that impacts the customer experience and customer loyalty. A clear trend we continue to see is less and less tolerance on the part of consumers to make multiple calls to resolve the same problem. In part it's a generation issue, but the growing demands on anyone's schedule today place additional pressures on service delivery to get it right the first time. You might not get a second chance.    

TMCnet: What new features have you seen being added to performance analytics solutions and what are the drivers and benefits?

RH: The most important development is the emergence of a new category of performance analytics - desktop analytics.  This capability monitors agent desktop activity much in the same way that call recording monitors agent and customer voice calls for quality purposes.
In the case of desktop analytics, the goal is to understand agent behaviors when using the desktop - application usage, navigation efficiencies, compliance issues, workflow efficiencies - for the purpose of  identifying areas for coaching and improvement and conversely, for identifying best practices for broader application. This is a new exciting area for performance analytics. Today, contact center managers have zero visibility into how agents perform using desktop tools and practices. It is a huge opportunity to dramatically impact average handle times and reduce costs.  
Enkata's research and feedback from customers indicates that 20 percent-30 percent of call time is wasted performing non-productive desktop tasks. Consistently call center managers ranked inefficient use of knowledge management systems as their highest priority to understand and improve.

TMCnet: Performance analytics solutions have been remarked for their high costs, which have reportedly limited the demand for them. Please discuss. Are you seeing any changes in this situation and if so what methods are both suppliers and contact centers deploying to make them affordable? Or are more contact centers accepting the considerable value of the investment and more are willing to make it?
RH: The high costs in the past were primarily associated with implementation costs due to data source integration requirements. A major new development in this area just in the past year has been the ability to capture much of the customer transaction data directly from an agent's desktop. In the past, the requirement was to pull data from multiple, disparate data sources throughout the enterprise. That meant higher implementation costs but also longer time to results--sometimes as much as nine months-and a major barrier to adoption.
By pulling data directly from the agent desktops for every customer transaction, the need to integrate with disparate, multiple data sources is all but eliminated. The same projects that took multiple quarters to complete are now able to be completed in one-two months. Enkata believes that this one development will dramatically shift the adoption rates for performance management applications driven by lower cost and faster time to results.  

TMCnet: What best practices do you see evolving in applying performance analytics in contact centers?
RH: Several best practices as performance analytics are applied:
1. First and foremost, the requirement to correlate agent performance issues to specific outcomes or development (coaching) action plans to improve performance
2. The need to align performance management to the quality monitoring processes already within companies. Customers often question the effectiveness of traditional quality monitoring practices. Too time intensive and too small a sample set to have an impact. Performance management applications will begin to drive quality monitoring practices to expose 100 percent of calls versus the current industry average of 3-5 percent of calls. It will also correlate agent performance to actionable remedial or development outcomes with much higher precision
3. The use of performance analytics to identify specific agent behaviors or issues and correlate them to precise development outcomes will drive wider and faster deployment of best practices. Development programs will shift from subjective, non-scalable coaching practices to more scalable, cost effective programs such as eLearning and one-to-many training opportunities
4. The ability of performance analytics to provide precise data on 100 percent of calls for 100 percent of agents will drive the ability to customize or personalize a development (coaching / training) plan for every agent
5. Lastly, the ability to precisely monitor and track the agent's performance before and after completing a training or development plan allows managers to measure the effectiveness of the programs. Did the recommended coaching or training effort move the needle on agent performance?   Useful data for continuous improvement of development programs as well as cost justification for the programs.

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet's Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda

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