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Crunch the Numbers First

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"I'm a numbers guy—you have to be if you're an analyst—and I'm a firm believer that analytics, used properly, could not only change your company but also change the world," writes columnist Rob Enderle on "However, I've (studied) some of the bigger market failures of the last decade and, in many cases, executive management had the information it needed to avoid the mistake but simply chose not to use it."

A major selling point for data analytics is that it gives executives the information they need to make decisions that are best for the company. But Enderle cites case after case where prominent industry leaders made decisions first (often based on gut or instinct), then tried to defend their decision with a skewed or cursory review of the numbers. All too often, they fell victim to confirmation bias (the tendency to only see information that agrees with one's pre-existing world view), to disastrous results.

Enderle's firm recommendation? Resist the temptation to shoot from the hip. Get good data up front, and most importantly: use it.

There may be no corporate function that throws off more data than a unified communication contact center because of the sheer volume of inputs and variables. But if mining that data requires heavy lifting to sift through the unintelligible detail, nobody's going to use the tool. At least, not for decisions that matter today.

Here's a better way to get more out of your call center service's analytics and its two most important assets: people and information.

Make it Manageable
Supervisors need a single, real-time, call manager dashboard to track agent activities and queue performance for all contact types: inbound voice, email, chat, and outbound campaigns. They need access to comprehensive historical reports, as well as statistics of all the activity in the call center--without requiring database programmers or third-party reporting applications. If they're not easy to manage, real-time numbers are like looking in a rear-view mirror.

Make it Immediate
Supervisors need to be able to read the pulse of the contact center by getting visual and audible threshold alerts on critical conditions immediately. They should be able to compare real-time information with historical information to spot trends and schedule call center agent availability accordingly. They must be able to react to conditions on the fly by bringing more agents in or taking agents out of groups with a single click of the dashboard. And they need to analyze the result of outbound contact center campaigns, measure their success in real time and terminate underperforming campaigns with the click of a button.

Make it Visual
Who has time to read numbers? A graphical report enables users to grasp trends and comparisons quickly. Everyone benefits when complex comparatives are displayed in an intuitive manner. Supervisors should manage people toward a goal, not have to analyze a spreadsheet.

Make it Flexible
It's hard to be responsive in real-time when creating a functional report requires expert data support.  Contact center managers need easily created reports generated by date or by interval. And everyone will benefit from the convenience of automated reports that are emailed to a distribution list. Flexibility should extend to the report format as well so users receive the media they need whether csv, xls, pdf or htm.

Make it Portable
Why should contact center supervisors be tied to a desktop computer? Accessing key information from a wall board is a must-have convenience, but today's mobile devices allow your supervisors to be where they can do the most good: on the floor with their team.  Dashboard analytics should be iPad enabled for the most effect. And portability extends beyond supervisors to the agents themselves. Virtual contact centers, with teams using VoIP phones and mobile unified communications to telecommute from disparate locations, can harness advanced UC features enabling agents to communicate both externally and internally effectively using voice, Web chat, email, Instant messaging and video. Data analytics extends to the telecommuting agents themselves, as they can easily view queue and group statistics to manage their activities and transactions without requiring supervisor intervention.

Let your Contact Center drive more than customer relationships. Use its goldmine of data to drive strategic business decision making. ShoreTel Contact Center workflow easily integrates withother enterprise applications like customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, trouble ticketing solutions, or any backend database/customer management system. ShoreTel Contact Center increases the overall value of information, which in turn increases agents’ productivity, by delivering business intelligence that's immediate, manageable, visual, flexible and portable for your best results.

Learn more about ShoreTel Contact Center.