There are a number of dashboard vendors that offer contact center reports and dashboard applications. These range from simple out-of-the-box desktop tools to specialized, enterprise-grade tools. These typically have feature lists that overlap to the point of being overwhelmingly confusing, especially to the contact center manager simply looking for a dashboard.
Contact center stakeholders start the search for dashboards because they see that as the end goal. The real need, however, is most often for a metrics management strategy. Much more than a dashboard, a metrics strategy involves how to define, collect, aggregate, organize, manage, transform, secure and publish metrics in role-specific views. It also defines how business context is added. An effective dashboard is usually the end result of a well-executed metrics strategy. If you lead with only the dashboard in focus, the result is generally superficial and short-lived. Consider that a metrics strategy requires capabilities beyond what the typical dashboard tool is capable of. When stakeholders recognize the importance of a holistic approach towards managing metrics, the dashboard tool discussion gets dropped in favor of developing the metrics strategy. The difference in approach narrows the list of qualified vendors to those that have the ability to service the end-to-end metrics management needs of an enterprise contact center versus just pinning up a fancy graphical visualizations from data.
Here are a few points to consider when developing a metrics management strategy:
- Business Context: Metrics are generally published across an organizational hierarchy with the most summarized (and most valuable) views being at the top for customers and executives. The measurement strategy must account for how technical and operationally-focused metrics are meshed with business context to satisfy the needs of customers and leadership. Assuming a low level of metrics maturity, (which is typically where most organizations are), the idea of meshing business context can start with summarizing operational metrics using the organizational hierarchy of the business. Figure 1 below shows an example of this ability. Most reporting tools provided with contact center systems roll up metrics to cryptic technical identifiers. Summarizing by the organizational hierarchy of the business allows for the metrics to be readily understood by business stakeholders.
Few vendors have the features to facilitate the ‘walk’ upwards in metrics maturity. Consistent change is a given as organizations ramp up and metrics need to evolve with rapidly changing business. This brings us to:
- Evolving metrics to keep up with change: Change is inevitable in any organization and a metrics strategy must account for it. This becomes even more important if the contact center has a core role in the business such as revenue generation or customer engagement. With the number of metrics required to address the wide view needed across the organizational hierarchy of a business, it is critical to have a single-system-of-record for creation, management and evolution of metrics. The next step up from summarizing metrics in business dimensions is applying business denominators to operational metrics to create derived or compound metrics. Gartner calls these multi-dimensional metrics. These metrics usually pertain to efficiency, compliance, cost, productivity, etc. and are usually the most valuable to the business leadership. Once a metrics management framework is in place, organizations can start to leverage increasingly sophisticated metrics and begin to benefit from them.
- Consolidated Views: Call centers have evolved to becoming Contact Centers, to Unified Communications centers, and now to 'Customer Engagement Centers'. Along the way, they've picked up a hodgepodge of systems and tools that include a variety of disparate vendor products for Chat, IVR, QA, SMS, Social Media and Workforce Management among others. Now traditional contact center reports (and dashboards) just don't work anymore. An 'overlay' is needed to span across the various systems to provide a unified view of what's going on. From a technology perspective, the ‘plumbing’ required to make this work is non-trivial.
- Most people just want ‘answers’: Many dashboard tools offer sophisticated capabilities, i.e. in-memory analytics and the ability to spin a cube of data right at the desktop. In fact, there are only a handful of users in every organization that use/leverage this capability. We've found that most everyone else needs just answers. The right approach is to create a standard set of interconnected views of metrics tailored to provide 'answers' relevant to key roles. In enterprise settings, this level of (metrics and view) consistency is far more effective than power analytics at the desktop. The icing on the cake is to make the 'answers' accessible anytime anywhere, leveraging mobile/responsive design, as well as videowall and portal integration.
This is just a bit of insight into what is needed in developing a metrics management strategy for contact centers. In part 2, we will discuss the specifics of how to implement a metrics management strategy.