For many companies with thousands of call center agents the concept of optimizing contact center performance is akin to optimizing the US government. In either case you must ask yourself how you know when you are truly optimized and the job is done.
If you pressed me, I would admit that optimizing a government is the more difficult task so in this article we will focus on optimizing the former.
In many call centers there are silos of automation with manual processes between them. These manual processes consisting of hand assembled MS Word or Excel Documents slow things down and are akin to Bondo
on a race car. Sure, from the outside the car looks great but if you look below the surface you begin to understand that structurally the car is far from perfect.
You can imagine how happy I was to learn Aspect Software is committing tremendous resources to tackling the performance optimization problem and they have just launched a major initiative called PerformanceEdge
which has the potential to truly revolutionize the contact center space.
The company is actually a melting pot of best-of-breed technologies such as inbound, outbound, customer service, workforce optimization and more. The number of acquisitions the company has executed on in the past years is staggering and Aspect Software
has further distinguished itself by holding onto virtually all of its top management over the course of these many years. There are hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of years of contact center management experience at the helm of this organization.
Coincidentally after I wrote the first draft of this article while at the Internet Telephony Conference & Expo
in Los Angeles, CA I happened to pick up a copy of the LA Times and on the front page of the business section was an article
detailing the invention of the ACD which was accomplished by Rockwell International. As mentioned in the article, many years later the call center division of this company became part of Aspect Software through an acquisition.
In a recent conversation with Aspect executives Candace Berman, Robert Kelly and Mike Sheridan I got to understand why this performance optimization suite was launched. The company has been analyzing contact centers quite closely as of late and they’ve noticed as transaction volumes increase there is a severe lack of forecasting and planning ability. In addition, reporting lags due to disparate systems never designed to work seamlessly as a cohesive whole.
Multiple call centers make the problem incrementally worse at best and exponentially worse depending on what systems reside in said centers.
The above problems are perhaps summed up best by saying today’s large contact centers are not able to fully support business processes. Because of this inability, top management in most organizations do not really understand or appreciate how important call centers are to their company. The above-referenced LA Times article reaches a similar conclusion. In my opinion true productivity begins when contact centers evolve to truly allow businesses to harness their full potential.
Many contact centers are viewed as necessary costs. However, if they can live up to their full potential they can be used more granularly and intelligently as they become strategic assets.
In order to achieve this lofty ambition PerformanceEdge synchronizes the complete breadth of customer service, collections, sales and telemarketing business processes with centralized management and reporting across various applications and sites.
The software subsequently delivers unified administration, reporting and workflows providing application navigation, simplified agent administration, single user log on, unified historical and real-time reporting and synchronized intraday operation and data sharing.
The goal of course is to make it easy for contact center managers to consider everything and act immediately -- resulting in better operational efficiencies and agent effectiveness. This in turn allows companies to control costs, enhance service levels and align performance to support strategic goals. As mentioned above, this can be quite granular as business goals can be translated to agent levels.
In case you are sold already and aren’t going to finish reading the article, yes – PerformanceEdge is available today and it works with any ACD or integration technology.
If you are still scratching your head it may be time to delve a bit deeper into what the solution entails. Some of the capabilities of the PerformanceEdge suite are as follows:
• Workforce Management - enables organizations to plan and manage the performance of inbound, blended and outbound staffing resources.
• Performance Management - measures, analyzes and communicates performance results to continuously improve business processes and ensure they are aligned with business goals
• Quality Management - records, evaluates and analyzes agent interactions and captures real-time customer feedback to deliver insights into business issues and agent performance
• Campaign Management - optimizes outbound and blended campaign strategies and increase productive contacts by pinpointing best time-to-call.
• Coaching and eLearning - provides needs-based coaching capabilities, as well as e-learning management and content authoring tools
• Speech Analytics – automatically scrutinizes and reports on content, context, purpose and outcome of every recorded customer interaction as part of the quality monitoring process
PerformanceEdge is being rolled out by Aspect Software as a separate entity under the Aspect umbrella? Why? There are two reasons in my opinion. The first is the solution works with a number of other company’s solutions so the potential to partner with these other companies becomes greater if they aren’t partnering with their direct competitor -- Aspect. The second reason is a performance optimization solution will likely command a good premium as a separate publicly traded company or acquisition target if this is the route Aspect Software chooses to take in the future.
Getting back to the product itself, a real-world example of how it works is imagining an alert which is triggered by workflow which can initiate an agent coaching session which is set up between the supervisor and agent. Results and hopefully improvement is further tracked and analyzed. Subsequent reporting then migrates up through the enterprise.
According to the company, this eliminates places to hide and lets you see the better agents and supervisors and perhaps more importantly the worse ones.
Obviously this product rollout is a significant undertaking and is some of the biggest news in the entire contact center market. For the first time in a number of years we are witnessing a true breakthrough in contact center technology.
Getting back to my initial question… Your contact center is optimized when it is able to rapidly respond to organizational needs and can seamlessly be integrated into business processes. Perhaps optimizing a call center is easier than I originally thought so in my next article I will explore how to do the same for our government. :)