The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

All across the corporate world, there’s a metric and a means of capturing the data for nearly every possible operational detail to be found in any customer contact center. First Call Resolution Rate. (FCR) Average Speed to Answer. (ASA) Abandons. (People who hang up before being connected to a Customer Service Representative.) Escalations. (What happens when the 1st CSR couldn’t find the answer.) Attendance. Adherence. Volume. Average Handle Time. (AHT) Service Level Compliance. The problem is that the result is a deluge of largely irrelevant information. The most critically important contact center metrics of all, the heart of authentic customer centricity — Profitability and Customer Retention Rate — are neither acknowledged nor tracked.

A customer-centric company is constantly looking for what else they can provide to their customers on a profitable basis. In order to succeed under that model, to continue to generate sustainable profits from its portfolios of customers, such a company must thoroughly know its costs of operation, its customers (individually and by segment) and their needs, its own resources and manage themselves accordingly. The vital nerve center where everything comes together, the corporate control equivalent of the White House Situation Room, is the customer contact center. Or, more accurately, the Customer Relationship Management Center.

There are three main causes underlying the failure to manage customer contact centers as strategic profitability resources. The first is the lack of appropriate technology for tracking and analyzing what’s truly important. Today’s contact center management systems are focused on access channel and case management. It’s the overall center management aspect that is missing. None of the currently available systems for access channel, case or knowledgebase management provide accurate information about costs and profitability. While a few do have the capability of capturing and tracking some of the data needed for customer retention management, such functionality is seldom if ever effectively tapped.

The lack of appropriate direction from Senior Management is the second major contributor to the problem. Few, if any, C-Level officers understand the myriads of operational metrics they get from the contact center. Their own failure to ask for the profitability data required for success under the customer centricity strategic model is significant.

The third problem area is found in the center management team. By drenching contact center managers with largely irrelevant operational data, center technology suites have conditioned executives to report what is not useful to Senior Management while ignoring the wealth of potentially vital information that could be mined from their storehouse. How many new sales, up-sells and cross-sells, and renewals, were directly or indirectly generated from contact center interactions with customers? What was the center’s contribution to gross revenues and net profitability last month, quarter or year? What profits will the center deliver next month? This quarter? This year?

You can’t get answers to questions that were never asked. While it may be a challenge to derive the data under the current toolset, it can be done and it’s well worth the effort. Get your CFO involved, and/or call me for assistance.

December 19, 2007