All Contact Center Reports Were Not Created Equal

by Jeannie Jackson on March 19th, 2014

Jeannie Jacksoninformation overloadI’ve recently been dieting, and though it’s been slow, I’ve managed to trim a few pounds. How did I celebrate? By shopping of course!

With a newer, trimmer outlook on clothing, I was ready to dive in. What I learned very quickly in entering the store, unfortunately, is that the style they sold had changed dramatically. Cute skirts, silk blouses, and sparkly jewelry had somehow turned themselves in to a massive overload of fashion faux pas that definitely did not appeal to me. One mannequin alone had a solid 7 different pieces of clothing and to me it was just way too much. WAY. TOO. MUCH.

It could just be that I’m not up to date on the latest fashion trends that inspired the thigh-high boots with lace leggings and a semi-skirted corset look with lots of layers to go over it. It could also be that those excessive wardrobe choices were never meant to be part of the same ensemble. Perhaps I’ll never know.

What I do know is that this hodge-podge approach is not new to the world of Contact Center metrics. One might even say it was “in style.” For example, it’s not uncommon for me to visit a Contact Center and while discussing performance a neatly stapled packet of daily reports comes out. These packets vary in thickness, but they’re almost always topped off by some universal view that has an extensive array of every metric known to mankind jammed in small font on the top sheet, or better yet on a TV screen hovering over everyone’s heads.

Trying to pull meaning out of the extensive array of numbers is definitely challenging on the eyes, and trying to see the relationship between the metrics is even worse. I had a flashback to that mannequin and had to ask, “Do those even go together?”

What feeds this madness? Usually my experience is there’s a Contact Center executive with a healthy appetite for data but very little time to consider it, so this “jam it all on one view” approach evolves to try to feed both needs. Those who venture beyond the first view of the report get treated to even deeper dives in to the metrics. While I have to admit I do see real value in these reports, the percentage of people who actually LOOK further in to these metrics can be counted on one hand.

So what is a Contact Center Reporting Analyst to do? Continue to lay out a banquet of data in a single view, or trim the menu and focus on more meaningful consumption one meal at a time?

How do you handle the need to report on and display a wide variety of metrics in your contact center?

What is your approach to representing the extensive array of metrics available in Contact Centers today?

Tame Big Data to Get the Most Value from Analytics

by Jane Hendricks on July 12th, 2013

Jane Hendricks, Senior Product Marketing Manager, AspectIf big data is beginning to feel like a big headache, you’re not alone. Over half of contact center decision makers say that they struggle with data challenges. Much of this is due to the fact that many of us simply don’t know how to manage the data we have.

In the contact center, mastering big data can provide amazing value—from $500 to $2,000 per agent, per year.

With the right tools, analytics can tame big data to reveal insights to management faster. It can also help make workflows and business processes smarter and more adaptive. The key to getting value out of big data is to make big data dimensions work for you:

  • Rather than worrying about data velocity, establish and measure to multi-dimensional KPIs to accelerate decision velocity.
  • Place volume secondary to relevance when it comes to accessing and having an in-depth understanding of the data you need
  • Transform the variety of data they have into useful breadths of knowledge that can be turned into valuable metrics

It is commonly recognized that 80% of an organization’s data is unstructured. That unstructured data is often that which contains the richest insight into customers need and operational execution. For the contact center, recordings and agent desktop activities remain a vast, untapped data store of insight.

Speech analytics helps companies structure the concepts that are occurring within customer conversations. New data points that are uncovered can then be integrated with other performance and quality metrics. Desktop analytics – often part of back office optimization solutions —  capture not only process behavior but also how applications are being utilized so companies can benchmark and track process performance as well as compliance.

Behind all of these measurements, performance management can turn these metrics into meaningful insights that allow companies to create multi-dimensional KPIs, align personal activities to organizational initiatives, and optimize coaching sessions to drive corrective action.

In the contact center, big data has the ability to turn every customer interaction into a productive one. How is your company using big data to inform decisions and provide better customer service? 

User Intentions Comprise Foundation of Industry Mega Trend Forecast

by Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research on March 4th, 2013

Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree ResearchPredicting industry trends is a practice about as old as the contact center industry itself.  Conventional wisdom tells us that the best way to spot or predict trends is to talk to a bunch of different solutions providers and see what’s flying off the shelves, then extrapolate that trend into the future.  At Saddletree Research we take a decidedly different approach.  Instead of asking vendors what they’re making or what they think will sell, we ask buyers what they’re buying.

We consider our demand-based forecasting to be superior to supply-based forecasting and a more accurate means of gaining insight into the mindset of the industry.  With that qualification in mind, here are the five mega-trends that we believe will have a significant impact on the industry this year:

  • Big Data
  • Mobility
  • Real-Time Analytics
  • Human Capital Management
  • Shifting Purchase Influencers

The trend toward Big Data speaks for itself.  With so much structured and unstructured data residing in the contact center combined with the advent of reasonable analytics solutions there is no doubt in my mind that Big Data will be a big trend this year.  This was further verified by the demand for analytics solutions, which heads the list of the top contact center solutions that will be evaluated for purchase this year.

Mobility is another intuitive trend given the fact that there are 330 million mobile devices in use in our country of 315 million people, and over half of these devices are smart phones or tablets.  Our user surveys revealed that mobility is a customer service issue that is worthy of investment in 2013.  Our year-end research verified that over 40 percent of contact centers in the U.S. are now supporting both iPhone and Android mobile devices.

Real-time analytics will be driven by a combination of customer experience, regulatory compliance and remote agent management objectives.  2012 research revealed that the majority of performance analytics users are dissatisfied to some degree with the time it takes to get performance metrics to supervisors and agents.  Real-time analytics addresses this shortcoming. 

In addition, real-time analytics enables the management of remote agents as the at-home agent movement gains industry momentum in 2013.  2012 research showed that 53 percent of U.S. contact centers have some percentage of their workforce working from home.  About 70 percent of these contact centers intend to increase their at-home agent population in 2013.  Real-time analytics offers the only timely means of managing this remote workforce.

Human Capital Management will also be driven by the at-home agent movement as companies attempt to recruit and hire agents with the appropriate attitudes and attributes that will make them successful remote workers.  Specialized needs of large outsourcers, who have to hire large numbers of employees in a short period of time and at a reasonable cost in order to compete with offshore outsourcers, will also contribute to this trend.  Year-end survey results show that 33 percent of the market will be evaluating hiring software for purchase during 2013.

Shifting purchase influencers speak to the fact that price is not as influential in the purchase process as it used to be.  Every year since 2008 we’ve asked participants in our year-end user survey to choose the two top factors that influence their technology purchase decisions.  Return on Investment (ROI) and Price always top the list and they did this year too, but nipping on the heels of Price are such factors as company reputation, prior relationship with the vendor and trust in the brand name.  This indicates the return of intangible purchase influencers in the post-recession contact center industry.  It also means that the lowest price won’t always win the deal.

It is clear that analytics will be an important industry growth driver in 2013, but it will not be dominant.  This year’s mega-trends indicate an overall focus on efficiency, most likely driven by conservative management in the post-recession era.


If you’re interested in learning more about the major technology trends shaping communications and collaboration, join Aspect at Enterprise Connect, March 18-20. Billed as the industry’s premier event for systems, software, services and applications for enterprise communications and collaboration, we’re looking forward to three days of high-level, forward-thinking, relevant and reliable information presented by thought leaders in keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions. Come find us at booth 1137!

Sign up now to view a demo of Aspect’s next-generation solutions and be automatically entered to win a Microsoft Surface!

Big Data: Will You Know What to Do with It When You See It?

by David Harper on February 8th, 2013

David Harper, Practice ManagerSpeaking of  “big data,” this is a term that’s becoming more and more common in the workplace as business continue to generate massive amounts of information and knowledge.  What isn’t very clear at this point is what exactly big data is and how it can be leveraged.  Depending on whom you talk to, big data has a few different meanings.  If you look up what it means to IBM, Oracle, SAP, and others you will see a different definition.  Microsoft isn’t any different when it comes to this dilemma. 

What most people can agree on is that it is defined by three (ok, sometimes five, see – they can’t even agree upon that) V’s:

  • Volume – how much data are we capturing
  • Velocity – how fast are our data volumes growing (exponentially vs. linear) 
  • Variety – structured vs. semi-structured vs. unstructured

Now it’s clear as day right?!  Many organizations are still in the “Web 2.0” world.  This means that we have moved beyond capturing information about payroll or our sales pipeline, and are gathering information around search marketing, web logs, and eCommerce.  The world of big data rests just beyond that.  Information such as click-stream analysis, log files, weather, text/image data where the only rule is that there are no rules.  The trick to be able to gain insights from this data is to find the meaningful data points and add structure to them so it may be digested by our standard BI tools. 

The current task at hand is finding customer scenarios that lend themselves to this sort of data exploration:

  • IT Infrastructure
  • Traffic flow optimization
  • Weather forecasting
  • Smart meter monitoring

There are generally about 10 to 15 common scenarios that can be addressed readily by big data solutions.  The better question is what’s next.  A Fortune 1000 executive was recently overheard saying,  “Big Data reminds me of ‘Cloud’ five years ago, nobody knows what it is, but everybody wants one.”  This person is absolutely right – I can’t tell you want I want, but I will know it when I see it. 

What is your take on big data?  Is your company delving into this new world?  Tell your take in the comments.


Dave Harper, Director of Aspect Analytics National Practice, speaks nationally on industry technology trnds and at many events in all vertical markets. Dave continues to serve as the technical architect on many of Aspect’s large-scale analytics projects. He has more than 12 years of experience developing and implementing solutions for all types of organizations, with significant experience in creating leading-edge Microsoft Business Intelligence solutions.

Read more about big data:

What Big Data Means to the Customer Experience

by Christine OBrien on February 6th, 2013

Chris O'Brien, Marketing Communications WriterIt’s time to start demanding more from your contact center.

Does this have a familiar ring to it? Of course, the problem is, contact centers are already hearing those demands, and they’re coming from every direction―from management demanding that you do more with less, from customers demanding a better experience at every turn, and even from agents demanding more flexible scheduling and visibility into processes.

None of these demands are unreasonable, but they present new sets of challenges, and  many are looking to big data for solutions. Access to the right information at the right time―especially to support cross-selling, collections, and even simply consumer relations―is more critical than ever, with analysis of this data forming the basis of strategic decision making. By synchronizing people, applications and processes, companies can reduce labor costs, enhance service levels and build customer loyalty. But most significantly, they can align contact center operations with the company’s overall strategic objectives, drastically increasing the overall value the contact center brings to the corporation.

Empower Agents, Delight Customers

A recent survey revealed that a consumer who is satisfied with a customer service representative is 2.5 times more likely to conduct future business with a company. How can managers be sure their agents are delivering the best possible service? Agents must have a thorough knowledge of company goals, policies, and products, in addition to understanding the role their performance plays in corporate success.

The data gathered by contact center intelligence applications can be used to train agents, measure their performance, and then provide that information back to the agent in a prompt and effective manner. If the center missed its performance targets, managers must examine the data for causes.

You can learn more about what big data means to you and how to apply concepts like these it to your contact center. Register now for the CRMXchange Roundtable on Analytics and Business Intelligence, and plan to listen in on the live discussion at 1 p.m. ET on Feb. 26th. Aspect will be presenting: Give Big Data a Buzz Cut: Cut through the Noise to Find What Matters.

Hope you can join us!


Chris O’Brien, Marketing Communications Writer, develops and designs content for a wide range of Aspect communications and social media applications. She continually monitors consumer trends to ensure that marketing messaging aligns with industry best practices and meets customer expectations.

Read more about big data and the customer experience:

What Has Your Data Done for You Lately? Quality Analysis in the Contact Center

by Kathleen Schroeder on August 27th, 2012

Kathleen Schroeder, Sr. Product Marketing SpecialistMost contact centers today have a well-embedded quality management process in place, but is your quality program falling short by failing to deliver real business value?

Watch: Advanced AnalyticsOne of the ways businesses can tie analytics to actionable intelligence is through the Aspect Applications Foundations – specifically the Advanced Analytics Foundation. Watch the video to learn what’s possible.

While most businesses actively record customer interactions, this data is useless until it has been analyzed. It’s this process of analyzing data that tends to be dauntingly time-intensive, inefficient and overwhelming. At best, most supervisors have the capacity to analyze only a  fraction of actual data collected. Often the problem isn’t having enough recorded and collected data. It’s having the capacity to analyze it.

Are you losing valuable insights to the sheer volume of recorded calls?

In reality, quality recording alone has become table stakes for the majority of businesses. It’s time to move toward a quality solution that accomplishes all three of these imperatives for the next-generation contact center:

  1. Capture quality insights into customer data and staff resources
  2. Analyze the data you collect as part of the quality process
  3. Deliver clear visibility into quality, customer feedback and operational performance that is accessible to all stakeholders and decision makers

Without each of these key elements in place, you risk missing key actionable intelligence that has the potential to shape business decisions and impact the bottom line while increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

Aspect’s Advanced Quality Analysis unites analytics-driven quality technology with performance management tools and dashboards for maximum visibility and control, enabling you to:

  •  Identify bottlenecks and pinpoint process improvements
  • Categorize calls to perform root cause analysis
  • Spot opportunities for training/coaching
  • Increase first call resolution
  • Reduce average handle times
  • Improve your overall sales effectiveness

Interested in knowing more about this cost-saving quality monitoring solution? Read the full white paper.

Quality is Fundamental: Advanced Quality Analysis in the Contact Center

by Christine OBrien on August 15th, 2012

Chris O'Brien, Marketing Communications WriterWhile most contact centers actively record customer interactions, this data is useless until it has been analyzed. It’s this process of analyzing data that tends to be dauntingly time-intensive, inefficient and overwhelming. At best, most supervisors have the capacity to analyze only a  fraction of actual data collected. Often the problem isn’t having enough recorded and collected data. It’s having the capacity to analyze it.

Are you losing valuable insights to the sheer volume of recorded calls?

 In reality, quality recording alone has become table stakes for the majority of businesses. It’s time to move toward a quality solution that accomplishes all three of these imperatives for the next-generation contact center:

  1.  Capture quality insights into customer data and staff resources
  2. Analyze the data you collect as part of the quality process
  3. Deliver clear visibility into quality, customer feedback and operational performance that is accessible to all stakeholders and decision makers

Without each of these key elements in place, you risk missing key actionable intelligence that has the potential to shape business decisions and impact the bottom line while increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

Aspect’s Advanced Quality Analysis unites top analytics technology with performance management tools and dashboards for maximum visibility and control, enabling you to:

  • Identify bottlenecks and pinpoint process improvements
  • Categorize calls to perform root cause analysis
  • Spot opportunities for training/coaching
  • Increase first call resolution
  • Reduce average handle times
  • Improve your overall sales effectiveness

Interested in knowing more? Read the brochure for more details on this robust solution.

Better, Usable Data Key to Effective Social CRM Measurement

by Tim Dreyer on May 8th, 2012

James Foy, President and CEOLast week, ChannelBiz posted an article noting that about half of the Fortune 1,000 companies will not experience an ROI on their social CRM investment by the end of 2012. The author noted a lack of measurement and defined objectives of the companies’ social CRM activities are creating project failures. So while the global market of social CRM licenses is predicted to be over $2 billion this year, (more than double that of last year), many of the organizations don’t have defined objectives for social CRM initiatives tied into their broader business strategy.

Proper measurement is key to the justification and future success of social CRM but how is this best done?

In order for companies to truly see the ROI on Social CRM investment, better analytics are essential. Acquired customer data from the contact center must be easily obtained and visible throughout the enterprise. Of course the data alone is not enough. It must include context and interaction history in order to get a holistic and reportable view not only of the customer but of the Social CRM as well. When the silos in the enterprise are taken down and a culture of customer data collaboration exists, companies will be better able to measure the impact of their Social CRM investment.

Diapers and Dialers: What Contact Centers Can Learn from Target’s Pregnancy Predictions

by Tim Dreyer on February 27th, 2012

Tim Dreyer, Director PR/Analyst RelationsDiapers and Dialers, predictive data analyticsLast week, Mitch Wagner, editor in Chief at The CMO Site put out a blog post on how Target Knows You’re Pregnant Before the Stork Does that I thought had some interesting relevancies to the contact center space. Not on pregnancy predictability of course, but more on customer intelligence.

In his post, Wagner notes that many pregnant women starting their second trimester make revealing purchases like unscented lotion, calcium and magnesium supplements and other scent-free soaps that indicate that they may, just may, be nearing a trip to the maternity ward. By keeping an eye on customer trends like this, the company can be, ahem, very targeted when they send out baby product offers like wipes and formula. Target knows that gaining the diaper devotion of these new-mother shoppers early can mean loyalty for years to come.

The key to this intelligence is data analytics, or specifically, predictive analytics. It is taking the huge lump of sometimes unworkable customer data and converting it into usable analysis. There are obviously privacy concerns involved here, but social consumers as a whole tend to be more receptive to providing businesses with personal information as long as it’s not misused and results in deals and offers specialized to their interests. Send them offers for World of Warcraft, and you may lose their loyalty.

The connection here is that the tighter you integrate your customer contact center with your CRM, the better able you will be able to use and convert data. Add in predictive functionality like speech and text analytics, and you can develop a workflow that will improve the decisions you make, the actions your agents take, and sometimes the direction the enterprise chooses. Without this integration, you have data that you may or may not be able to use.

You can read more on predictive analytics as a part of the Microsoft Data Platform here. I predict you will ;)

The Art-of-the-Possible Comes to the Contact Center

by Tim Dreyer on February 10th, 2012

Mike Butts, Senior Marketing ManagerThe art-of-the-possible: SharePoint in the contact centerBusiness leaders make decisions based on past experiences. Even when we think we are being innovative, we are still innovating from what we know and what we’ve seen succeed.

 To illustrate this point, CIOs have jumped on the opportunity to increase organizational productivity by deploying one-stop SharePoint portals. SharePoint portals have migrated from simple document repositories to internal communications sites and external corporate web sites. Some businesses, such as mine – a former Microsoft consulting agency – ran its entire operation using SharePoint. Research shows that businesses that once viewed SharePoint as the “go to” place for content are extending its role into “the place where business gets done”. SharePoint makes it easy to envision the art-of-the-possible and perhaps even remove the word “impossible” from our vocabulary.

 Given SharePoint’s ubiquitous presence in  corporate IT environments, and the drive for customer intimacy, it’s time to bring the art-of-the-possible to the contact center and tackle  productivity and efficiency in an entirely new way.

 All too often, contact center productivity is  hampered by departmental silos, lack of enterprise knowledge, little to no access to subject matter experts, no real-time metrics, untracked manual processes, limited training and much more.  Let’s envision a day where your contact center agents and management teams have a single, “one-stop” interface they use to begin and end their work day, that easily manages all of the different technologies they tap into throughout the day.  SharePoint is that key enabling platform that allows everyone within the contact center to stay focused on the task at hand:  delivering business value to customers and the enterprise.

 Let’s explore some of the possibilities.

  1. Agent and Supervisor Communication and Collaboration – Create a My Workspace page where agents can access what they need from the corporate CRM database, access their Outlook email messages and assigned tasks, and readily see who’s available for IM chats, voice calls, screen shares and more using Microsoft Lync unified communications capabilities without ever needing to switch screens or open all of those applications individually.  Now, consider getting more creative with this My Workspace page – integrate real-time agent metrics, company announcements, team statistics, employee and team recognition, work and vacation schedules, contact center and project schedules, and so much more. The beauty of SharePoint is that it can consolidate all of the information and process needed, and expose the right piece and the right bits of information to the right user. No longer are you hindered by  disconnects between agents and supervisors – every player sees what they need when they need it.
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  3. Knowledgebase – How many times are agents and supervisors looking through stacks of notes or hunting around shared drives and desktops for that one document they need? With a centralized knowledgebase, you can turn all this information – including documents, videos, and the notes that pass between the people within the contact center – into a centralized source for both information and collaboration. SharePoint’s powerful search engine allows employees to search information using visual search clues such as meta-driven navigation, thumb nails, previews and click-through relevancy to quickly find and refine search results. And the beauty of SharePoint is that the capabilities you use in-house can quickly be turned on for external consumption. Imagine the same powerful search and collaboration driving a customer self-help portal.  
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  5. Analytics – Without knowing where you are, it is difficult – if not impossible – to know where you need to go next. Putting analytics front and center – and putting them into the hands of those who make changes– can transform the culture from one of guessing to one of knowing. Within SharePoint, analytics can be integrated such that they are always visible and always available. For example, display agent and team performance metrics like upsell revenue and average handle time directly on the My Workspace page to align behaviors with strategic objectives. Provide holistic interactive dashboards and scorecards to front-line supervisors and management personnel so they are equipped with the best information to make the best decisions.  
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  7. Workflow Automation – Prevent process delays (and lost revenue and customers) while reducing human latency and errors by automating mundane, manual and complex business processes.  Business processes such as opening new accounts, credit approvals, accounts receivables, policy management, etc. can involve a number of different workflows, employees with different skill sets, and several different departments. Use SharePoint’s workflow automation capabilities to move business steps through a series of logical and repeatable steps to ensure that business processes do not get bogged down or lost in the shuffle of everyday work.  Use SharePoint to push tasks to agents while supervisors use a dashboard to watch service requests move through the system. Workflow automation is great for connecting the contact center to back office operations. It can help ensure that the organization is managing the customer experience holistically – from the initial inquiry through fulfillment – with full visibility along the way.  
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  9. Training – Turnover within the contact center remains a pain point even in this challenging economic environment. As new agents come on-board, few can afford the productivity delays that are common. In-person training and reinforcement is hard to manage and sending out document after document is impractical for both the trainer as well as the trainee. With SharePoint, you can reduce the time it takes to onboard new agents and increase effectiveness of existing staff by assigning short training videos to watch and you can easily test understanding with integrated testing. This entire process can be done through SharePoint. Videos can educate staff on new products, offers, campaigns, contact center etiquette, best practices and more. Create a personalized list of recommended videos to supplement training efforts. Make these training videos part of employee performance records and review cycles. 

 Chances are, your company already has a SharePoint deployment and the possibilities we have outlined have you thinking about the art-of-the-possible for your contact center and maybe even your organization. Possibly the greatest benefit of SharePoint  is that you can design and deploy a strategy at a pace that works for you.

 I would love to hear your ideas on how SharePoint is being used or could be used in your contact center. Drop me a note.

 Till next time.

 Mike