The Contact Center Data Conundrum: Part One

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Saying Goodbye to Measurement for Measurement’s Sake

Are Contact Centers Measuring What Matters, When it Matters?

Contact centers have long struggled with data – making sense of contact center performance data is a huge task, and a huge investment, for any organization. The question of how to report performance data hangs over each center, as leaders balance the need for usable metrics against the risk of appearing as a transactional cost center. Not to mention the push to become a source of strategic business insights. Where is the value – and where is the sweet spot? – in all that data?

Wrestling with these questions brings me back to the most complex and long-standing problems that contact centers face.  We have long tried to build “single source of truth” dashboards to help teammates, leadership, and C-suite executives make sense of the immense amount of data generated and used to measure center performance across dozens of KPIs – and boy, do we have KPIs for everything! – to limited result. Dashboard development – weekly reporting, monthly reporting, creating scorecards, and everything that entails – is an extremely costly endeavor, not just for the time that each stakeholder devotes to define, develop, deploy, and maintain the reports, but also for the time and energy that the management team spends analyzing, discussing, and ultimately, trying to decide what to do with all of that newly uncovered information and hopefully, insight.

Years ago, I attended a class on design thinking and problem solving and one of the concepts that has stuck with me? When faced with a complex, long-standing problem, break through a log jam by changing your perspective on the problem itself.  Take a step back and look at it through a wider lens or take a step forward to look at the problem in smaller parts, to see if that change in perspective unlocks a new and better solution. Why not take that approach to contact center reporting? It is, after all, a long-standing problem worth a different perspective. So, let’s take both a step back AND a step forward, to consider a better solution.

First, let’s take a step back – looking at both the current state of contact center reporting and taking a bit of a broader view.

What Are We Solving For?

Broadly speaking, business users want to be able to use historic data trends to paint not only a picture of today’s performance, but also to give provide a roadmap to future events, both predicting and influencing tomorrow’s bottom line results.  Contact centers have consolidated access to more data points and KPIs than most businesses, but not all insights are created equally – and getting to actual drivers, or root cause, can be difficult due to inconsistencies in data collection. Some of the data, like interaction results, is complete as collected. Some data, like quality scores, is collected across a sampling methodology, while other data, like survey results, is collected via invitations that can be either targeted or randomized. The great equalizer? All the data comes from past results gathered across your customer base, is often delayed in publication, and is often biased or incomplete in nature.

Are We Measuring the Right Things?

This is a HUGE question.  Companies have invested significantly in people, processes, and tools to try to build the best data visualizations and dashboards they can.  In 2019, Gartner estimated that the average annual spend for data and analytics projects and software was $204bn.1 Oddly enough, the amount of investment in producing these reports very rarely ties back to the outcomes – the industry doesn’t evaluate the effectiveness of the dashboards and very rarely asks if what we are measuring are the right data points to drive the kinds of optimized experiences we want to deliver.  Perhaps we should be as interested in what we are measuring – and why we are measuring it – as we are in making sure that we have built the right dashboards. Remember the goal – better results, not just insights!

Perhaps we should be as interested in what we are measuring – and why we are measuring it – as we are in making sure that we have built the right dashboards.

The Contact Center Data Conundrum

What Have We Delivered So Far?

If we are honest in our evaluation of the current approach, many would have to admit that most of the custom dashboards and KPIs created today are largely underutilized, undermeasured, and rarely inspire meaningful change.  It is the very definition of a high effort, low yield process.   I have no argument against the need for comprehensive reporting and data visualizations – solid data and analytics are the key to managing any business.  I do, however, get frustrated at the state of current contact center reporting for the low impact that it has in driving action and fundamentally, in driving performance. In helping to make people better and to contribute to better experiences.  I question the ROI of dedicating so much organizational effort – not to mention hard dollar investment – towards building the Rolls Royce of dashboards on incomplete and laggard data.  Near real-time reporting is an artifact of the past.

We have lived with this problem for decades in contact centers.  Something must change. Why continue to invest IT budget dollars on the care and feeding of dashboards – and potentially waste that money? Why not invest in – and influence – tomorrow’s results?

So, let’s take a step forward and think about this problem differently.

As for the what – and the how? Stay tuned; we’ll tackle that next week.

1 Maverick* Research: Dazzled by Dashboards — Better Management With Fewer Metrics: Gartner, Inc. 12/06/2021. Doc # ID G00721141

Steve Moore
Steve Moore
Steve joined XSELL as the SVP of Solution Consulting and GTM Strategy in November 2021, after spending his career wearing multiple hats in multinational technology companies, implementing, consulting, and selling software to enterprise customers.

His sweet spot has been building and leading high-performing Sales Consulting, Value Engineering, Sales Enablement, and Customer Success functions and he has done so for companies like Lawson Software (now Infor), SAP, and Verint Systems. His current focus? Building and refining the mechanisms necessary to carry the XSELL story to market, while delivering measurable business benefits, communicating technology advantages and clear ROI -- and yes, exceeding customer expectations in the process.

A Northerner at heart, Steve traded the Jersey Shore for the North Carolina coast five years ago, when he and his wife Joan moved to the Southeast. They have three sons and a daughter, and a much-loved granddaughter, in addition to a pair of boxer puppies, Wally and Gordon.

Connect with Steve on social media: LinkedIn

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