What is analytics?
In order to continuously improve, contact centers need to analyze performance throughout the WFM cycle and provide reports to contact center leadership. Outsourcing centers are usually contractually required to provide reports to their clients.
Why does analytics matter?
Even when you forecast accurately, schedule efficiently, and do a great job of real-time management, things can still go wrong. Planners learn from failure as much as from success, so it’s important to analyze the results, perform a root cause analysis, and put in place the changes needed to improve performance in the next cycle. Plus, reports are really useful to team leaders during appraisals and 1:1s with their agents.
How does analytics work?
Data is available from various sources, e.g.
- The tool used for WFM, e.g. a spreadsheet or WFM application
- The ACD or other contact routing platform
- The CRM system
The data is typically consolidated using a business intelligence tool or a spreadsheet. The goal is to automate the collection of the data and then apply templates to create reports which are required on a regular basis.
The KPIs that are usually analyzed and reported on are similar to those tracked in real-time management but with a different time frame applied. In real-time management, planners aim to detect deviations from plan in time to take corrective action on the day. Reporting takes a longer perspective, typically the length of the planning cycle, for example, one month.
- Forecast accuracy, i.e. how closely the forecast values for volume and AHT matched reality.
- Schedule efficiency, including coverage (i.e. under/overstaffing), occupancy and utilization
- Operational effectiveness, including customer experience metrics such as service level, waiting time metrics (e.g. number of calls in the queue), shrinkage by type (e.g. sickness, lateness) and agent schedule adherence
- Employee satisfaction with WFM, typically part of an employee survey
Reporting and analysis are typically performed at the end of each planning cycle. The key steps are:
- Report on how performance compared to target over the entire period.
- Identify root causes where performance goals are not met. For example, if the number of calls significantly exceeded forecast on a given day, find why that happened. Did the marketing department run a campaign but omit to tell the planning team so that business intelligence could be included in the forecast?
- Propose changes that eliminate the causes of failure next time around. Continuing the marketing example, the planner might propose a regular meeting with marketing to ensure shared visibility of upcoming campaigns. If the problem is insufficient staffing, there may be a case for hiring. In each case, the justification for the change should be clearly demonstrated by the analysis.
- When calculating performance over a period of weeks, it is important to use proper calculations. For example, avoid taking ‘averages of averages’ and use weighted averages instead.
- ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and charts have an important role to play in reporting. Be mindful of the impact of data visualization and learn how to tell a convincing story with your data.
What impact does analytics have?
By analyzing performance, doing root cause analysis, and learning lessons from each iteration, planning performance steadily improves over time. The forecast becomes more accurate, the staffing requirement always includes the right shrinkage, the schedule efficiency is higher, the agent schedule adherence is better, and so on. And sound analysis means that any changes to the contact center can be made on a data-driven basis, not based on hunches.
The value of reporting and analysis can be summed up with the axiom “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This principle has been attributed both to Peter F Drucker (the well-respected management thinker) and W Edwards Deming (the father of total quality management). Contact center planners are in the fortunate position of having ready access to data that is both available and useful.