Tips to prevent creating your own contact center analytics shelfware

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Tips to prevent creating your own contact center analytics shelfware

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Recently, I walked into my classroom for the upcoming term and braced myself for the exasperating questions that seemingly every class insists on asking:  “Will you be sending out lecture notes after class?”, “will this be on the test?”, and “why do I have to take this [any variation of math] class?”  The answers to which are “Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha,” “maybe” and “because you may want to choose to work in the fast food industry, because I’m guessing you’d prefer your Thunderbird T-top to rest on tires and not blocks, because maybe someday you’d like to have tires on your car but not on your house.”   But, this time around I was pleasantly surprised.  A student’s question about the merit of using paper and pencil (and whiteboard) to do math in a world of ever-accelerating computational speed led to a discussion of the priorities businesses place on subject-matter expertise versus technological skill.

The unfortunate reality is that many well-intentioned businesses spend millions of dollars each year on good, even great, tools designed to make their businesses more efficient and provide greater visibility into the inner-workings of the business.  They spend time and money making a business case for the purchase, calculating the product’s ROI, payback period, etc.  Unfortunately what is often lacking is the subject-matter expertise required to make good on the ROI projections.

Give a workforce management pro some sophisticated WFM software and they’ll do the job in a fraction of the time.  Give WFM software to anyone else and they’ll turn it into shelfware.  The same is true for statistical analysis software, B.I. tools, customer experience solutions, speech analytics solutions; the list is endless.  The ability to point-and-click does not automatically translate to the deep understanding of process, outputs, software limitations, tricks-of-the-trade, adjustments needed for a given environment, business, industry and much more that is needed to maximize the value of the software in the process.  Don’t be fooled thinking making the tools “user-friendly” means anyone can use them and the process will be valuable.

If your organization is one that expects a return on investment the minute a call center analytics software product is launched, don’t forget to add the cost for a highly skilled guru of the tool into the ROI calculation.  You’re going to need it.  You can rent guru services and tools or invest the time and effort to buy tools and build that skill set into your existing staff:

1.       Start by drafting the current process – The individual tasked with making good on ROI projections will need a crash course in whatever the tool is intended to do (analyze data, manage agent schedules, etc.).  This individual will need to know not only how the process should work, but how it actually works, what the most prevalent “hiccups” are, how to fix them and the logic used to work through any major “events” that occurred within the most recent 12 months.  This should be painful.  And time-consuming.  And peppered with phrases like “Well yes, but …”, “In theory, but what we do is ….”, “That’s true sometimes”   If it is not time-consuming, you have not been sufficiently thorough.

2.       Make the individual execute your process using your existing tools (even if those tools are paper, pencil and a straight angle) – This exercise will help the primary user of the new tool gain a working understanding of the guiding process and logic and will reveal any scenarios which were overlooked in step 1.   This step should take no less than 2 weeks, up to 6 weeks if possible.

3.       Then (and only then) train on  the software – Training on the software as the final step will ensure that the primary user of the software has the foundational knowledge of process inputs and outputs, as well as your unique environment necessary to make the most out of the tool.  After all, you wouldn’t teach someone binomial probability before making sure they understood the fundamental of fractions, would you?

4.       Launch (and hope they stay)!  If you are unwilling or unable to implement these tips then buyers beware.  The tools and the work dynamics are getting more supplicated each day and the skill sets required are higher than the supply to fill them.  The winners of doing more with less are the ones doing more with what they have.

About Jim Rembach

Jim Rembach is a panel expert with the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and an SVP for Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM). Jim spent many years in contact center operations and leverages this to help others. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence (EQ) practitioner and frequently quoted industry expert. Call Jim at 336-288-8226 if you need help with customer-centric enhancements.

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