Response Design Corporation:Creating the Uncommon Call Center
Kathryn's Uncommon Call Center Blog
September 25, 2006 12:24 AM
Categories: Measurement 
The measurement pendulum

During the APQC call center metric study, it was my job as subject matter expert to determine the best call center metrics. Can you guess the conclusion of the nine months of study? Nobody knows what is best. We found a measurement pendulum.

The pendulum swings one way: you measure everything. One call center measured more than 100 different metrics per agent per day, and still managed to win a prestigious quality award. The pendulum swings the other way: you measure practically nothing. When we asked company managers what they measure currently, they told us, “Now we are down to measuring only two things.”

I interviewed another best-practice company, well known for its incredible service. I asked, “What do you measure?” The company representative said, “We measure one thing.” I thought, “Oh good. You know the answer.” I asked, “What is that measure?” He said “How much time during a person’s shift are they available to take calls.” My next question was, “Do you think that is the one right metric?” He said, “Kay we don’t have a clue but we were measuring everything and we got tired of measuring everything. So, now we only measure one thing. Now we’re going to figure out what metrics truly tell us, in a balanced way, how we’re doing.”

We need to measure what matters and stop the pendulum swing.

Entry logged at 12:24 AM
September 18, 2006 12:22 AM
Categories: Measurement 
Measure what matters

I was the subject matter expert for a call center metric study sponsored by APQC, a Houston-based, not-for-profit research organization. We spent nine months gathering data, interviewing people, and attending site visits to determine the best call center metrics.

We found that much of the variation in measurement systems can be explained by the newness of the industry. Many call center managers continue to be in the “trial-and-error” stage of development, and are looking for the one “magic measure” that will solve all their problems.

We also discovered that measures need to change as the company changes.

Contact centers predominantly use three methods to determine what they will measure: benchmarking (used by 80 percent of participants), customer expectations (used by 68 percent of participants), and industry standard (used by 64 percent of participants). What companies measure is correlated directly with:
Company culture - the number and types of measures depend on the company’s focus, for example, companies that lean toward employee involvement have a different measurement system than a company leaning toward a command and control structure does.
Age of operation - the younger the company, the more volatile the measures.
Experience level of the people - the greater the experience level, the more stable the measures.

Entry logged at 12:22 AM
September 11, 2006 12:20 AM
Categories: Measurement 
Motivate and illuminate through measurement

A recent survey states that measurement-managed companies are more likely to:
• Be in the top third of their industry financially,
• Have completed their last major organizational change successfully,
• Enjoy favorable levels of cooperation and teamwork among managers,
• Undertake greater self-monitoring of performance by employees,
• Have employees who are more willing to take appropriate risks, and
• Have senior executives who are better able to manage and lead their organizations.

Though contact centers have been operating successfully for several decades, the industry is relatively new and many centers find themselves struggling to define a measurement system that is meaningful to the organization. While all agree that measuring performance is important, many centers are grappling with what should be measured and how. The critical factor for call centers is to find the measurements which are indices for successful business and to make those measurements understandable across the organization.

We measure a lot, but we don't know why. In the customer contact industry, we've always had technology that delivers an incredible amount of data to the management team every day. Managers believe that, because these numbers are produced, they must be important to look at. So, they diligently spend time trying to decipher the data, thinking they will unlock the secret of the contact center's performance.

Unfortunately, many of the numbers don't tell us anything; data by itself is meaningless. The only time data provides insight is when it's put into context. The primary reason we measure should be to accurately assess current performance to determine the best way to invest our resources. In my opinion, one of our greatest downfalls is we over-measure and under-manage.

Entry logged at 12:20 AM
September 4, 2006 12:16 AM
Categories: Measurement 
Defining measures, metrics, calculations and standards

The way we measure our contact center depends on our position in the company, the roles we take on, and the new processes and technologies we implement. Everyone measures differently; however, we should all revisit our measurement philosophy often.

Does your measurement system reflect what is truly happening in your organization? What are you concerned about? Measuring too many things? Measuring too few? Deciding what action you take after you’ve examined the measured results? Presenting a data-based case for improvement?

In the next few blog entries, I’ll share what I have recently learned about measurement. Here are some definitions that I’ll use in this series:
1. Measure: a category of metrics; an example of a measure is “effectiveness.”
2. Metric: a single entity within a measure that indicates performance; an example of a metric is “sales per hour.”
3. Calculation: the formula defining a metric in the specific environment of each call center (technology, data sources, etc.).
4. Standard: the target measure for each contact center. Standards are set for both the “ultimate” goal and the interim “stepping stones” that centers accomplish on their ways to achieving the ultimate goal.

During this series, I will use “measures” as the generic term. Stay tuned, we’ll launch into the fascinating world of call center measures next.

Entry logged at 12:16 AM
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