Friday, December 21, 2007

Reporting - Having your cake & eating it

Coincidentally (given yesterday's post on reporting) I was reading a long article today on CCF, "Have your call centre cake and eat it ". The article is primarily about metrics and how they can distort call centre performance.

I suspect the article is a bit long, but the basic point is that agents do what you pay them to do. If the metrics the agents are paid on don't align with the board's strategy, then don't expect agents to sacrifice pay, read the annual report and work against their interests.

The point I think it misses is that reporting is about getting the information to manage your contact centre, it is not a substitute for management itself. Get the right information and you can make the right decisions. It does puzzle me to hear one of the examples cited,

" client where there was a call handling time limit of 300 seconds and staff who consistently missed the target were put on a disciplinary. At one stage, 35 per cent of the workforce were on disciplinary, and because the operation was struggling, they asked the staff to do more cross- and up-selling, while slashing the handling time to 270 per cent. Attrition was 230 per cent."

I know I've encountered dysfunctional organisations (and in the past was an agent in a call centre like that), but this still seems extraordinary. If the details are accurate (and I've no reason to doubt them), then the cost of failing to manage change was far higher than the original problems. It also seems amazing that management continued to push on with the plan when they saw results.

In short, however good your call centre reporting, you do need management to do something with that information for it to be worthwhile.

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