Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dimension Data Benchmarking Report 2009

I've always covered the The annual Cisco & Dimension Data Speech survey but I've not focused so much on the Merchants contact Centre Benchmarking report. That's perhaps a mistake as a quick read of this summary of
the latest Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report would show. The report came out last week so this data on contact centre performance is hot off the press. Here are the some of the major themes and findings from 2009:

A MIXED BAG FOR OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE - Looking at aggregated operational performance data always requires a degree of license. Overall, we would summarise this year’s operational performance as ‘mixed’ - there have definitely been no great strides forward or any significant decline in standards.

CALL VOLUMES STILL ON THE RISE - Overall call volumes have risen slightly this year, contradicting predictions of the demise of contact centres as self service and contact avoidance initiatives are developed. Growth in call volumes is more pronounced in emerging markets. Since the onset of the Global Economic Crisis there has been a clear shift in the reasons for customer contact.

COMPLEXITY FOR AGENTS - Average Handle Times have continued to creep up but we believe that this is largely down to the migration of the simpler, commoditised transactions to self service channels which continues to increase. This obviously leads to front line agents having to handle more complex interactions that often require a greater degree of empathy, communication skills and access to the relevant information.

STILL WORK TO DO ON MANAGEMENT INFORMATION - Management Information (MI) reported at board level under the guise of Strategic MI is still too focused on service levels. Instead of focusing on the inner workings of the operation, strategic MI focuses on outcomes. We believe this is an issue across the industry and we are still measuring the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

PROCESS OPTIMISATION REMAINS PRIMARY FOCUS - From a customer and agent perspective, the ongoing trend towards more End-to-End Process Automation is good news. Through increasing the number of processes that can be handled within contact centres, hand-offs will reduce as will operational costs.

OUTSOURCING STILL A COST DECISION - While we continue to see the role of outsourcing maturing, the top three reasons for outsourcing are all cost related. Cost remains the biggest driver for adopting an outsourcing strategy, but it is encouraging to see results that indicate a more balanced approach to outsourcing decisions.

CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUE IS BACK ON THE RADAR - Over the past 12 months there has been a positive indicator trend suggesting that organisations are looking to improve the way they show how Customer Lifetime Value is impacted by customer interactions taking place in the contact centre.

CHANNELS ARE STILL TOO SILOED -Organisations are still not using customer insight across the organisation. It’s a clear and disappointing indicator of the extent of the challenge facing the industry to deliver a joined up end-to-end experience.

WHY NOT MEASURE COST PER INTERACTION? - A third of all contact centres report that they do not measure the cost per interaction of agent assisted telephone calls. When you consider that this is the most accurate means of determining the cost effectiveness of an operation, it is a worrying trend that we have not seen improve in recent years.

SEGMENTATION BECOMES MORE SOPHISTICATED (BUT FEWER PEOPLE ARE DOING IT) - More companies are using increasingly sophisticated methods of segmenting and differentiating their customers. There appears to be a very real desire to generate more value from customer interactions. What is worrying though, is the drop in the number of companies using segmentation.

HOME-WORKING BECOMES A REALITY - The number of home-working agents is generally growing in more mature markets across the globe. A large proportion of respondents are considering home-working, signifying a major shift in approach to employee management, where benefits include lower staff turnover and cost, improved productivity and reduced travel through the use of technology.

HOSTING AND ‘ON-DEMAND’ BECOMES MAINSTREAM - Most contact centres are still owned and managed within the organisation. The number of centres owned by organisations continues to drop year on year. With hosted technologies more secure and easier to manage than in the past, we expect to see an increase in the number of hosted centres due to the economic climate and convenience of the technology.

All very interesting, and probably well worth getting the full report from the Dimension Data/ Merchants site.

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