NACC

Volume 5, Issue 13 - November 5, 2010

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David Butler
Executive Director

National Association of Call Centers
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David.Butler@nationalcallcenters.org
http://www.nationalcallcenters.org

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NACC Investment Portfolio

The NACC Investment Portfolio was up again this month to $11.56 profit. Note, however, that only two stocks contribute to this profitability, APAC and Verint. All other stocks are still in negative territory from the original purchase price. There are a large number of companies out there with lots and lots of cash on hand. This cash needs to be invested and one means of drawing down the cash reserves will be through mergers and acquisitions. So keep your eyes out for announcements of contact center companies and technology providers buying or being bought in the coming months and quarters.

NACC Composite Index

The NACC Composite Index was up to 73.72 points this past month. We expect the index to climb slowly over the following months. However, since the index is based on outstanding floated stock and there has been a mix of stock buybacks and stock selling to ensure solid cash flow in the past multiple quarters, next month will reflect an adjustment of the float number to more accurately predict the market today. Expect to see the number jump with this adjustment.

The NACC Composite Index was up 2.55% this path month while the other indices were up between 3 and 6%. With the new round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, inertia from the slow economic growth and movement from companies beginning to spend their cash post elections in the United States, expect most of the equity markets to gain grown over the next few months.

Quote

"It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting."
-Tom Stoppard

Picture of the Month

Death Valley National Park is a great place to visit for 3 seasons of the year. In the spring, fall and winter, the weather is just about perfect. But in the summer the temperatures on the valley floor regularly climb into the 120s. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley is 134, which is only a couple of degrees under the world record. So, why visit in the summer, as seen in this picture? Well, it's a dry heat! Besides, it's fun to experience such heat. Just bring plenty of water, avoid sun exposure and admire the beautiful views. And if you need to cool off, head to higher altitudes. The temperature in this picture, taken between 3500 and 4000 feet, is only in the mid-90s. Cool and refreshing!

Reports from the NACC

The NACC has been burning the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are sore to bring out reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you are interested to see what we are writing about, click on the images below and download the executive summary of each. If you like what you see, join the NACC so that we can send you these reports and others that will be coming out soon to ensure you know the latest trends in the industry.

Analytics, Coaching Top 2011 Shopping List

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org

With our 2010 NACC member/reader survey now closed and the results tallied some interesting trends have become apparent. It is clear that agent performance solutions are on the top of a lot of contact center shopping lists for the next year.

In 2009, the top product that survey respondents intended to evaluate for purchase this year was performance management/analytics with 39.1 percent of all responses. Second place was a tie between speech analytics and unified communications with 28 percent of respondents citing these technology solutions as being at the top of the list of products for evaluation in 2010.

In 2010, performance management was replaced at the top of the list by desktop analytics with 33.3 percent of respondents reporting that they intend to evaluate desktop analytics for purchase in 2011. Following closely behind on the shopping list was performance management with 31.3 percent of respondents. Third place on the shopping list and making a first appearance in the top three was e-learning with 30.4 percent of respondents.

In terms of products that have already been funded for purchase in 2011, desktop analytics also tops the list followed closely by agent desktop software/CTI. We found the attention being paid to the agent desktop interesting given the way desktops have not been a top-of-mind efficiency consideration in the past. The industry appears to be waking to the potential productivity power that the agent desktop offers.

Speaking of productivity power, speech analytics rounds out the top three products that have been funded for purchase in 2011. Speech analytics is a double-edged sword in that it can be used to maximize agent performance and gain a better understanding of the voice of the customer.

The intense focus on performance optimization solutions in this year's report indicates an interest on the part of the industry in maximizing their investment in agent resources. While the recession didn't significantly slow contact center industry growth, it did put a spotlight on cost control and an emphasis on getting the most out of every contact center resource, human or otherwise. These survey results indicate that efficiency will be key to contact center operations in 2011.


From the Trenches

Contact Centers Get RACI to Bridge Organizational Silos

Maren Symonds, Consultant -- Strategic Contact, maren@strategiccontact.com

For as many years as we've worked with contact centers, we've heard the plaintive cries from management and front line staff about the woeful lack of coordination across departmental lines. Marketing campaigns kick off without consideration for the impact on contact center staffing or the need to equip agents for a response. Misaligned communication and processes for end-to-end service delivery result in "dropped balls" that send aggravated customers back to the contact center for redress. IT and the business have stalemates over requirements and priorities. It's bad for business and bad for morale.

The case for operational integration across the enterprise is strong. Contact centers are strategic assets that are interdependent with their corporate counterparts. As a customer-facing organization, their performance has a direct bearing on customer acquisition and retention. As a key element in the "supply chain," what they do -- or don't do -- impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of all other parts of the business. The same can be said of marketing, sales, product management, engineering, field operations, and fulfillment or other back office functions. Given the technology-intensity of operations, IT needs to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with all of the other organizations.

We've taken a tool out of the standard "project management tool chest" to illustrate the importance of interdepartmental coordination. A RACI Matrix identifies the roles of individuals or organizations in completing tasks or deliverables for a planned initiative. RACI stands for:

  • Responsible: the person(s) who complete a task either by doing it directly or delegating it to others under their supervision
  • Accountable: the decision maker with the ultimate responsibility for completion of a task and the associated outcome
  • Consulted: the person(s) whose input affects the design or execution of the task and with whom there is a need for two-way dialog
  • Informed: the person(s) who need to be "in the loop" on plans and status due to a potential or anticipated impact on their work

While we've typically used this tool for process-oriented projects and system implementations, it's equally adept at capturing relationships between organizations as they pursue a slate of major initiatives. The following example might apply to a consumer products company:

 

Marketing

CC Mgmt

CC Front Line

Back Office

IT

Plan/launch major advertising campaign

R/A

C

I

I

C

Execute telemarketing campaign

I

A

R

I

C

Restructure fulfillment processes

I

C

I

R/A

C

Engage customers through social media

A

C/R

R

-

C

For most folks, it's easy to identify "where the buck stops" (a.k.a., the accountable party) and who is actually going to do the work (a.k.a., the responsible party.) The value comes in thinking through all the organizational touch points where there may be sound (expert) advice, where the activities of one group have a ripple effect on others, and where a modest amount of information, feedback, and/or training might make others more effective at their jobs. A RACI Matrix combined with high level process flows gets everyone on the same page.

The very act of assembling a cross-functional team to craft a RACI Matrix could provide teachable moments:

  • Folks outside the contact center may not understand what happens to service levels -- and, hence customer enthusiasm/satisfaction -- when the center gets hit with unanticipated traffic.
  • Process change in any organization affects hand-offs with all the others. Even if one group's restructuring yields stellar performance on its organizational metrics, it doesn't do much good if the end-to-end customer experience goes awry.
  • IT is often the "last to know" when folks launch initiatives that bump up against capacity constraints on systems and services. They can't always turn on a dime to resolve the matter. Better to involve them early and understand the requisite lead times than get an unpleasant surprise.

Everyone's schedules are packed these days. Time and distance can foil the best of intentions when it comes to collaboration and communications. But a periodic conversation around a RACI Matrix could yield dividends several times over.


Remembering Veterans on Veterans Day

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org

I hope most of you read my article from the September issue of In Queue about how the contact center industry can help put our returning veterans to work. In case you missed it, you can find it here: http://www.nationalcallcenters.org/pubs/In_Queue/vol5no11.html.

Veterans2Work (www.veterans2work.org) is a non-profit organization that works to improve the employability and job success of special needs veterans, their spouses and caregivers. Many of our returning veterans suffered devastating injuries while serving in the military. Many of these disabled veterans have lost their mobility but not their drive to be productive members of the workforce. The customer service profession is the perfect place for many of these disabled veterans to reenter the civilian workforce given advances in management of, and technology for, at-home agents. Combined with what Veterans2Work describes as the "Can-do productivity of U.S. military veterans," I can't think of a reason why these returning heroes shouldn't be at the top of any employee candidate list.

Veterans2Work is also able to deliver fully-trained contact center agents as employees or offer outsource services through their partner Vertex Business Solutions, which has contact centers manned by a workforce of about 1,900 disabled and other special needs veteran agents among its worldwide workforce of 9,000 agents in 70 locations.

To my fellow military veterans -- Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service and sacrifice. To my fellow contact center industry professionals -- please remember our veterans in your hiring plans for 2011.


Aspect Continues to Build on Performance and Productivity with Performance Management 7

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org

These have been a busy past few weeks with new products hitting the contact center market after a very quiet summer. Among the most interesting of these products is Aspect Performance Management 7, which functions as part of Aspect's comprehensive suite of Workforce Optimization (WFO) products.

Performance Management 7 is Aspect's entrée into the world of social media for the contact center. With this new release, consumer sentiment as measured by social media traffic becomes a key performance indicator (KPI) that is tracked and reported the same as other performance metrics. By gaining insights and analytics into consumer sentiment the contact center will be able to apply WFO best practices to social media in the same manner in which it is applied to other customer communications. As social media becomes increasingly important to the contact center, it only makes sense to begin measuring and managing it.

Aspect has taken the initiative to bring social media into a comprehensive performance optimization strategy. The voice of the customer must now include these new communications channels in order to maintain customer service and quality management objectives.

There is more to Aspect Performance Management 7 than can be covered in this news brief, including new coaching capabilities, new user interfaces, new report wizards and new desktop dashboards. For more information visit www.aspect.com. NACC members are invited to contact us directly for more information.


Pre-Employment Selection and Hiring Technology Rant

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org

This week NACC members received one of my written rants on a favorite industry topic of mine -- agent turnover. In my 21 years as an analyst following the contact center industry I've seen many industry trends come and go, many products fall in and out of favor and many problems arise and eventually be solved, but there's still one problem that's as prevalent today as it was 21 years ago. That's the problem of agent turnover in the contact center.

For whatever reason, the contact center industry has chosen not to embrace pre-employment selection and hiring technologies in the same way that just about every other major industry has. The preferred strategy instead seems to be one of keeping a line of warm bodies coming through the front door to replace the warm bodies leaving through the back door. My contention today, as it has been for many years, is that relying on proven hiring technologies will lead to longer-term, happier and more productive customer service representatives.

With hiring and training costs hovering around $5,000 per person according to a few studies I've seen, and average turnover reaching into the 80 percent range, my thought is that most contact centers would be better off spending a few bucks on proven pre-selection technologies and getting an agent with longevity and career potential. It makes no sense to me to keep spending money on training agents who end up leaving because they find the job isn't the right fit for them.

Last month, FurstPerson introduced a pre-selection hiring solution that I'm sure most hiring managers will appreciate and relate to. FurstPerson's CC Audition Talk & Note utilizes speech recognition to create a highly realistic contact center simulation environment for the purpose of conducting pre-hire candidate assessments. Agent candidates must respond to animated customers with the spoken word, just as they would have to in the actual job. This gives managers the opportunity to assess a candidate's ability to read responses from a screen and communicate those responses to customers in a conversational manner. I believe this realistic approach to selection and hiring is unique in the industry.

Pre-selection assessment technology has come a long way since candidates had to match square pegs with square holes. FurstPerson has an entire suite of products specifically designed to streamline the hiring process, reduce associated costs and provide the best match for available jobs in the call center. Many of these solutions are web-based and can be acquired on an as-needed basis so up-front investment is absolutely minimal.

Efficiency, cost savings and ROI have helped pre-employment hiring assessments earn their way into nearly every major industry today. It's time the contact center industry joined these other industries in reaping the benefits of using technology to reduce agent turnover and attrition. For more information, visit www.furstperson.com.


Would You Believe Me If I Told You...

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org

Would you believe me if I told you that pretty soon you'll be able to get an agent desktop that will change screens as appropriate to the customer conversation without anyone having to manually do a thing? What if I told you that by the end of the year you'll be able to mine social media content for communications about your company by software that is so smart, it can train itself as it goes. Would you think I was crazy if I told you that you'd soon be able to record all your customer calls in the network rather than on a peripheral device, making those recordings immediately available anywhere in the enterprise and open to an array of new applications limited only by the imagination of the application developer?

The 21st century contact center arrived in the market this week with the November 3rd announcement by Cisco Systems of cutting edge products that can do all of what I described in the previous paragraph, and more. Rather than try to overload you with information in the space left in this article, it makes more sense to cover this game-changing announcement over the course of a couple of issues so that is what I intend to do.

In the meantime, if you're curious about what these new products are all about, visit www.cisco.com and look for information on Cisco SocialMiner and Cisco Finesse. You won't believe what they've done for the agent desktop. NACC members are welcome to contact me for further information and analysis of these ground-breaking products.


Call Center Comics!

If you like this comic and would like to see more write Ozzie at callcentercomics@yahoo.com and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.


Sponsor Reports

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Copyright 2010 National Association of Call Centers


 
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