TechWeb

Experienced Advice for Contact Centers

Dec 28, 2005 (08:12 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=175700717


VentanaMonitor™

Summary
In order to improve the performance of their contact centers, organizations need to align their agents, their processes and their systems to a common set of goals and objectives that are derived from their overall business needs. Prior to the release of the latest version of its product, Opus Group supported this process through a combination of its consulting services and the business intelligence (BI) application it designed specifically for contact centers. The new release, version 3.0, not only adds new functionality to the Performance Management Analytics module but it encodes what was previously proprietary consultant knowledge into an electronic knowledge base.

Assessment
In order to achieve improved operational performance in contact centers, organizations face three key challenges: understanding what to measure, figuring out how to extract from the infrastructure the data from which to derive the measures, and determining how to apply the metrics to improve performance. Opus Suite 3.0 represents a great leap forward by encapsulating the company’s experience working with customers into the product for the first time and making it available to help organizations address all three of these issues.

Key to the success of the new suite is the Codas Operational Advisor, the knowledge base that stores in electronic form Opus Group’s experience in process optimization. Drawing on this resource, version 3.0 can help users understand why measures are falling outside allowable limits and then can recommend courses of action drawn from the experience of company consultants.

Opus Suite 3.0 supports traditional call center measures such as number of calls, average length of calls and first-time resolutions. However it now includes two new categories of performance information. First, customers can configure a weighted scorecard that measures agent and overall contact center performance against a set of business-related goals. In the new version of the suite, an enhanced dashboard allows continuous monitoring of performance indicators in categories including quality, productivity, service and financials; these indicators can be custom-formatted and can be configured for different levels within the organization, from the enterprise to the line of business, team or individual agent.

In addition, measures can now be linked to a specific process — for example, handling a certain category of call — and can be displayed graphically to help the agent or the supervisor examine and optimize different parts of the process.  Version 3.0 also contains resource modeling capabilities that allow managers to set up and compare multiple “what if” scenarios to forecast the probable effect of process changes before they are implemented.

One strength of the Opus products has been their ability to extract data from the various pieces of technology that make up a contact center. New enhancements to the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) component make it easier to build new interfaces to new pieces of equipment without having to write much custom code. This enables organizations to integrate new, disparate sources of data quickly and respond to changing user and business demands.

Market Impact
Contact center performance management is still in its infancy. Too many organizations still see handling as many calls as possible for the lowest cost as their highest priority. Key performance indicators therefore still revolve around transactional measures such as call volumes, average lengths of calls and average handling times. Performance management sets about reducing all of these, but this alone cannot improve customer satisfaction. And until satisfaction increases substantially, objectives such as increasing the level of up-selling will remain unrealizable.

Available tools haven’t been able to support such a business-driven approach. The difficulty of extracting data from technologies such as automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), computer telephony integration (CTI) and business applications have prevented many organizations from even attempting to derive performance management metrics across the whole center. Vendors such as AIM technology, Enkata, Hardmetrics, Opus and Performix have attacked the problem of extracting data from disparate sources and presenting the information in meaningful ways. Each focuses on a slightly different aspect of contact center performance management and each therefore analyzes and displays a slightly different set of performance measures, in slightly different graphical forms.

Recommendation
The key differentiator for Opus Suite 3.0 is the unique Codas Operational Advisor, which takes contact center performance management a large step further by helping operational managers understand areas that are not working and suggesting courses of action based on operational experience. With this and its other new capabilities, Opus’s Suite 3.0 should help operational management take a giant step toward true performance management. Using the new suite, organizations will have the measures and experiential data they need to set targets, spot variations and improve performance in people and processes. To organizations that want to continue to mature their contact centers, Ventana Research recommends giving Opus Suite 3.0 serious consideration.

About Ventana Research
Ventana Research is the leading Performance Management research and advisory services firm.  By providing expert insight and detailed guidance, Ventana Research helps clients operate their companies more efficiently and effectively. These business improvements are delivered through a top-down approach that connects people, process, information and technology. What makes Ventana Research different from other analyst firms is a focus on Performance Management for finance, operations and IT. This focus, plus research as a foundation and reach into a community of over two million corporate executives through extensive media partnerships, allows Ventana Research to deliver a high-value, low-risk method for achieving optimal business performance. To learn how Ventana Research Performance Management workshops, assessments and advisory services can impact your bottom line, visit www.ventanaresearch.com.

© 2005 Ventana Research