Are Your Reports Inhibiting Your Success?

By David Schreck

How many reports do you review on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis detailing your inbound call center? Most of these reports show high-level, obvious facts – such as number of calls, overall conversion rate, and abandonment. What action do you take based on those reports? Are they telling you what you already know? Are you getting only final tabulated results? Do the reports provide insight into performance? More importantly, are they telling you the root causes behind the results?

Beyond basic data, your reporting should indicate five important actionable insights:

  1. Where are you performing well?
  2. Where are you not performing well?
  3. Why you are performing well?
  4. Why you are not performing well?
  5. What specific corrective actions can you take to improve performance?

While high-level “vital signs” of performance tell you in general terms how your call center is doing, you need deep analytical data and applied insight to continually improve performance. Let me provide an illustration of how to apply deep analytical data to solve a specific challenge.

Let’s say you walk into an environment where sales are two percentage points below the goal and abandonment is five percentage points above. Obviously, the reports told you the problem, but do you have applied insight to determine steps to improve performance?

Performance by Daily Time Intervals: First, concentrate on time-interval reporting. While knowing the overall rates for conversion and abandonment is good, it is equally important to know how each is ranked throughout the day. Is each rate not achieving objectives consistently, or are there key time intervals driving down the overall average? Time-interval reporting is an excellent tool to dig deeper and uncover the underlying root cause.

Look for specific pain points when analyzing a time-interval report by reviewing each thirty-minute and day-part interval to compare results throughout the day. Identify time intervals that fall outside the average in both positive and negative ranges. Understanding what factors drive these changes is one area to focus on. Next, apply the same approach to days of the week and weekends. By doing this, you are digging deeper into the various time intervals that may affect your overall conversion rate.

Performance by Day Intervals: Second, compare call volume by time and date intervals. When overlaying volume to time and day intervals, you will see how call volume maps to your time interval analysis. Are weaker conversion rates and higher abandonment correlated to higher-volume intervals or days? We have seen cases where particular hours of the day were receiving a high volume of calls, yet those hours were achieving the highest conversion rates and budgeted abandonment. Other hours with lower volume had much lower conversion rates and above-budget abandonment. Armed with this type of data, you’ll have ideas for actionable solutions.

Media Mix: Once you’ve looked at the volume and time analysis, turn your attention to conversion by media. Specifically, look at conversion and abandonment rates compared to types of media buys and media companies themselves. The conversion by media report compares the metrics to type of media, such as radio, TV, etc. When you understand the performance of your media mix, you can add volume of calls by media type. This analysis will tell you if your conversion rate is consistent across all media, and, if not, which media is performing better. Also, run the analytics as a comparison over time to see if changes to your media mix are affecting your results.

Performance Comparisons: As an example of this, we recently had a client whose conversion rate decreased by four percentage points. After running the time interval and call volume reports, we found no major factors affecting the performance change. However, when we ran a media type report, we uncovered that the client had made major changes to the media mix. The analytics compared the past two weeks to the media mix of prior weeks. The client had moved their media mix to a shop that produced conversation rates eight percentage points lower than the average. In this case, they also increased their percentage spend from 30 percent to 60 percent. We identified the key factor affecting their negative performance.

Agent Ranking and Call Distribution: Next, turn your attention to the agent environment. You should receive a detailed listing of each individual agent’s performance segmented into weekly, monthly, and ninety-day resulting periods. We typically call this an agent ranking report. When analyzing a series of these analytical reports, concentrate on answering these questions:

  • When grouping agents into performance segments, do you see large performance variances between the segments?
  • What is the distribution of calls between each group? Are the majority of calls going to performing agents, new agents, or underperformers?
  • Do you have too many new agents and underperformers taking calls? By shifting the percentage of calls to the performing agents, what performance increase will result?

This analysis not only tells you exactly who is performing well and who is not performing, but you now have detailed tactical action to improve results – such as moving the calls to the performing agents. The chart illustrates a recent client’s variance in agent call performance between their two centers. We categorized the sales conversion performance and call distribution to agents from the two centers. You see four sales performance groups within each call center, four distinct conversion rates, and four separate distributions of calls – top performers, mid-range performers, low performers, and new agents – revealing that:

  • Each center has performing and underperforming agents.
  • Call Center A is delivering the majority of their calls to the underperforming and new agents, while Call Center B is delivering the majority of their calls to their top-performing agents. You now have more information than the fact that one center is performing better than the other. You see that the top-performing center is sending more calls to their top-performing agents, resulting in better overall performance.
  • You now have actionable data to improve your performance. Work with the call center to change the distribution pattern of calls to high-performing agents.
Total Calls Sales Conversion % % Calls to Total
Call Center A: top performers 138 44 31.9% 11.1%
Call Center A: mid-range performers 100 28 28.0% 8.1%
Call Center A: underperformers 430 90 20.9% 34.7%
Call Center A: new agents 570 80 14.0% 46.0%
Call Center A: Total 1238 242 19.5% 100.0%
Call Center B: top performers 1148 370 32.2% 51.9%
Call Center B: mid-range performers 733 220 30.0% 33.2%
Call Center B: underperformers 200 42 21.0% 9.0%
Call Center B: new agents 130 14 10.8% 5.9%
Call Center B: Total 2211 646 29.2% 100.0%
Grand Total 3449 888 25.7%

Agent Staffing: Finally, review a series of staffing diagnostics analytics. Staffing analytics tell if you have a sufficient number of agents for the volume of calls – not just overall, but by time throughout the day. Typically, the report presents the number of calls per agent ratio by time interval. You will learn quickly if you have the right staffing throughout the entire day – specifically which time slots are working well and which time slots need corrective action.

Summary: You started with the challenge that sales conversion and abandonment were not meeting the required objectives. Having a series of analytical diagnostic reports allows you to quickly compare and analyze key factors that could contribute to performance. This suite of diagnostic tools and quantitative data helps determine what specific actions are required to improve performance.

David Schreck is president and CEO of Intelemedia. Since 1993, Intelemedia has developed telephony and database solutions for the call center industry that transform how organizations more effectively manage call handling and caller experience within their customer service and sales acquisition environments. David’s experience integrating technology, business processes, and strategic sourcing is the driving force of Intelemedia’s success. David’s approach to “client-centric” teams focused on understanding and meeting customer needs has created a record of developing high-demand products.

[From Connection Magazine Sep/Oct 2014]