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  • Using Call Center Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making
  • Using Call Center Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making

    September 19th, 2017

    Call center analytics are a key tool in driving performance, productivity, and profitability. While the business of operating a call center is never easy, those who have been through the wars can tell you we have entered a golden age. The Internet has allowed us to break away from the iron grip of the old autocratic telecoms, with the emergence of VoIP and SIP offering a level of flexibility and affordable pricing nearly unimaginable 25 years ago. The rise of the cloud has reduced our dependence upon expensive IT infrastructure and hardware, offering small and midsized businesses the kind of feature sets once only available to the Fortune 500.

    If there is one facet that is revolutionizing this new era, it’s analytics. But the companies who aren’t leveraging call center analytics to guide their decisions may not live to tell about it.


    In Michael Lewis’s book, Moneyball, which was adapted into a memorable film starring Brad Pitt and Johah Hill, a baseball version of the David-and-Goliath story plays out in the front offices of the Oakland A’s. Oakland, lacking the deep pockets of teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox, needed to sign superstars, and consistently lost the prized fruits of their farm system to free agency. To level the playing field, they needed to find their own edge. So, they turned to data.

    Rather than chase All-Stars they couldn’t afford, they crunched the numbers to find major and minor leaguers who were undervalued, using metrics that went beyond the old standbys of batting average and ERA. They assembled a team of misfits and cast-offs who went on to string together a 20-game winning streak, win their division, and transform the way we think about analytics in sports and business.

    As Lewis writes:

    [I]f gross miscalculations of a person’s value could occur on a baseball field, before a live audience of thirty thousand, and a television audience of millions more, what did that say about the measurement of performance in other lines of work? If professional baseball players could be over- or undervalued, who couldn’t?
    Whether you have a 300-seat inbound customer service center or a 100-agent outbound sales team, the decisions you’re making should be based on enterprise-wide data, not hunches, guesses, or tradition. You need to be playing your own version of Moneyball.

    The Essentials of Call Reporting

    As the box score is to baseball, the call data record is to your business. Each call data record, or CDR, documents the details of every telephone call, text message, or telecom transmission that runs through your PBX. The CDR contains various attributes of the call, such as time, duration, completion status, source number, and destination number. When you open your cell phone bill each month, you are presented with an itemized list of every CDR.

    Station message detail records, or SMDRs, capture much of the same information within networks where users are based at stations or extensions. As companies move to SIP, with agents working in phone banks or remotely—without their own dedicated phone number—the SMDR is critical for billing purposes, regulatory compliance, and dispute resolution.

    Each discrete record is critical for building your data infrastructure. But, a single CDR or SMDR doesn’t tell you much. For example, say you opened the sports section and saw that Bryce Harper went 3-for-5 in yesterday’s game and drove in 4 runs. You would instantly see he had a nice day at the ballpark. But you couldn’t conclude from that snippet of information that he was having a great season, a great month, or even a great week. You would need a lot more data to determine whether this was another predictably outstanding offensive performance, or if this was an outlier in a season marked by struggles at the plate. Similarly, call reporting collects and assembles these data points to help paint a picture of your business and your workforce.

    The Starting Lineup of Call Center Analytics Solutions

    As the operator or manager of a call center, you understand the value of data, but maybe understandably leery about the prospect of information overload. With 50, 100, or 200 agents taking or making calls at any given moment, there’s only so much you could reasonably ingest from the firehose of data that each call produces. Most call reporting solutions understand this, and offer a basic tier of features based on some universal needs:
    • Dashboards and Real-Time Reporting: This provides you with a snapshot of how your agents and your business are performing, moment-to-moment. Call center analytics dashboards can help you quickly spot an agent having an off-day (perhaps their calls are noticeably shorter or longer than average) or uncover problems as they arise (e.g., a wave of customer service tickets from one area code may be the first sign of trouble in that location). You can also gauge:
      • How many calls are being made and answered
      • Amount of time customers are on hold
      • Lost or dropped calls
      • Individual talk and idle time
    • Scheduled Reports: Most systems will provide daily, weekly, and monthly reports, delivered in the format you prefer (e-mail, spreadsheet, PDF, etc.).
    • Fraud Tracking: Systems are configured to detect toll fraud, looking for unusual behavior or call traffic.
    • Call Recording: While this service typically costs more to operate, it offers you a chance to monitor, record, and replay any calls over SIP trunks or designated SIP phones for training, quality assurance, and dispute resolution purposes. While you may not necessarily consider these recordings to be data, they are often the most valuable qualitative data your business possesses.
    Some of the value-added features can be separated into inbound and outbound categories:
    Total number of inbound calls Sales Call Attempts
    Answer response time Call Outcomes
    Service level percentage (e.g., If your goal is answering 90% of calls in 10 seconds or less, are you meeting that mark) Campaign Codes
    Lost or Dropped Calls Idle Time by Agent
    Calls by Location Revenue or Leads Generated
    Calls by Direct Dial-In Number Calls by Agent or Station
    Longest Hold or Wait Time Average Talk Time by Agent
    Calls by Agent or Station
    Average Talk Time by Agent

    Using Call Analytics to Make Data-Driven Decisions

    Like many products, from televisions to smart phones, call reporting solutions typically offer more features than needed. However, if you’ve identified the metrics that matter for your business, the data captured by your PBX can be used to diagnose the health of your business and support the decisions you need to make, whether it’s gaining efficiency or improving productivity.

    Gaining Efficiency

    Consider the customer experience for a caller who spends 8 minutes on hold vs. a caller who spends 40 seconds. We can’t always predict call center spikes. However, if your call center analytics shows heavy call volumes on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons, you can try to mitigate customer inconvenience. You could schedule more agents during those periods. You could adjust your messaging to inform callers about the possible wait time. Or, you could point callers to your website for solutions to common problems (which you’ve identified through your data).

    Increasing Productivity

    Individual agent data found in call center analytics may uncover issues that can be addressed to improve performance. For example, you may spot that an agent’s call volume seems to droop around 3:00 pm. Upon investigation, the agent explains they check in with their kids around that time once they get home from school. By adjusting the schedule for a break at this time, the agent can return to action more focused.

    While call center analytics won’t make you omniscient, they can provide the quantitative and qualitative insights required to support tough decisions, from staffing to capital investment.

    Learn more about how we can help provide the detailed reporting services your business needs to take on the Goliaths in your industry. Contact us today and we'll help you set up your own version of Moneycall.

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    Using Call Center Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making