Part of SearchCRM.com's Call Center Trend Watch guide
Contact center performance management (CCPM) is one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated applications in the contact center technology market. It's misunderstood because most contact center managers believe they are already conducting performance management, using manual or semi-automated processes, and it's underappreciated because too many contact center managers question whether the financial and time investments are worth the effort.
Performance management started to penetrate contact centers in the early 2000s, but 2006 is the first year we've seen significant adoption.
What is contact center performance management?
Performance management is an effective method for collecting, consolidating and reporting large volumes of data from many systems and sources. Enterprise finance departments have used performance management applications for years to provide senior management with critical data required for decision making. It's a perfect fit for contact centers that have many automated and manual data sources, a number of which collect data from one application and use it in another.
However, the lack of consensus on the definition and purpose of these applications has created a major adoption issue.
DMG Consulting recently interviewed six of the leading vendors in the market -- and each one had a different definition for this application. The disparity between vendors' and users' definitions of contact center performance management makes it difficult to convey its value proposition and benefits. (Sure, various offerings have different functional capabilities, as they should, but for this market to gain momentum there needs to be a commonly accepted definition of core functionality.) All of the vendors do appear to agree that contact center performance management impacts contact center staff and management and that it has the ability to integrate data from many sources.
DMG Consulting's definition of contact center performance management
DMG Consulting proposes the following definition of contact center performance management: "At a strategic level, contact center performance management provides a framework for aligning the goals of the contact center with those of the corporation. At a tactical level, the performance management process uses goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, data sources and balanced scorecards for capturing and reporting how well the contact center delivers to its objectives in order to identify the actions necessary to address areas of weakness or strength. At a practical level, it streamlines and simplifies contact center reporting, enabling managers to use a carefully selected set of KPIs, metrics and reports to manage their operation, instead of the numerous reports and hundreds of measures previously required."
The market requires consensus
A standard definition of contact center performance management would make it easier for contact center managers to understand the benefits of these applications and how they can improve operations. There are three primary categories of vendors attempting to service the contact center performance management market.
- Reporting vendors: Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion, SAS and SPSS.
- Corporate/Enterprise performance management vendors: Oracle, Pilot Software and SAP.
- Contact center performance management vendors: AIM Technology, Aspect Software, Enkata, HardMetrics, Informiam, Latigent, Merced Systems, NICE Systems, Voice Print International (VPI), Verint and Witness Systems.
There are other vendors who do not fit cleanly into any of these categories. However, DMG Consulting considers contact center domain expertise a prerequisite to building a successful product. Otherwise, an end user is likely to end up with a powerful reporting engine, but will still need to customize all reports, scorecards and dashboards. Without a contact-center-specific product, users will also need to define their KPIs and customize integrations to their other contact center systems and applications. While contact center managers are expected to customize the output from a contact center performance management application, it's a lot easier to start with a base of integration interfaces, data definitions and templates (reports, dashboard and scorecards). Market experience has already proven that successful contact center performance management implementations address both best practices and applications. Vendors who concentrate on contact centers have a great advantage over those who address general business needs.
I've been following the contact center performance management market for the past five years, waiting for it to mature and attract enough mind share to justify writing a detailed industry research report. Although this market is still immature, the benefits and value for contact centers that have already invested in these applications are huge, and the payback is generally six to nine months.
Reflecting our faith in this market, DMG Consulting released the 2007 Contact Center Performance Management Market Report in January. This report covers the entire contact center performance management market. It provides detailed company profiles, including functional and technical comparisons, best practices and return on investment analyses, as well as a pricing review of the six vendors who offer solutions that integrate with multiple contact center infrastructure providers, have at least 10 implementations and have a single offering. The vendors covered in this report are AIM Technology, Merced Systems, NICE Systems, Verint, VPI and Witness Systems. Please call me at 973-325-2954 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are considering an investment in contact center performance management. There is a great deal of variety in the solutions being offered today, and we can help you make the right decision for your company.
About the author
Donna Fluss is the founder and principal of DMG Consulting LLC, a firm specializing in customer-focused business strategy, operations and technology services for Global 2000 and emerging companies. Ms. Fluss is a recognized thought leader and innovator in CRM, contact center and real-time analytics. For over 23 years, she has helped end users build world-class differentiated contact centers and vendors develop high-value solutions for the market. She is the author of the book, "The Real-Time Contact Center" and many leading industry reports, including the 2006 Speech Analytics Market Report and the annual Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report.