The Day of the Dashboard

Jun 13, 2007 9:55 PM  By

Customer service representatives account for roughly two-thirds of a contact center’s operating costs. In addition to the considerable boost in revenue generated by improved up-sell and cross-sell efforts, well-trained agents provide organizations with a valuable opportunity to enhance the customer experience and improve loyalty. But training is an expensive, ongoing process that represents a significant investment – one that must be well protected. Agent attrition is a huge problem, and organizations are recognizing the importance of implementing tools that not only train agents, but also keep them happy and motivated.

Desktop dashboards can help. Driven by real-time performance management and eLearning solutions, desktop dashboards provide management with highly effective tools to train, empower, and motivate their agents. Desktop dashboards are implemented for various uses and functions – from launching training courses and coaching tips to displaying morale-boosting messages and up-to-the-minute performance data, such as number of calls handled, conversion rates, sales, and talk time.

The degree of technological automation in contact centers today is quite astonishing and it’s easy to understand how some may be wary of working under what could be perceived as Big Brother conditions. Workforce management solutions figure out which agents should be working which shifts and when they get to take breaks, lunch, and vacations. Each call can be recorded, mined by speech analytics software for content, evaluated for quality, and scored for countless key performance indicators (KPIs) by performance management software. Automated post-call surveys invite the customer to score an agent’s attitude and aptitude. At the end of the day, managers and executives can access Web-based reports, enabling them to view performance by group, site, or individual agent – they can even drill down to listen to individual calls. Indeed, one could argue that agents are placed under such intense scrutiny it’s hardly surprising that attrition rates are routinely in excess of 30%.

So, with agents being managed, monitored, analyzed, and optimized by a variety of highly effective technologies and systems, what kind of impact will dashboards have on agent performance and morale? Unlike many other contact center technologies that tend to work behind the scenes, dashboards are literally in your face – they are docked on agent desktops and customized to deliver an ongoing stream of up-to-date, real time information specific to each agent. However, unlike most of the other contact center technologies, the dashboard is designed to report to the agent, rather than reporting on the agent – acting as a helpful personal assistant, responsible for supporting and informing the agent at all times. In addition to displaying training flashes, quizzes, eLearning courses, examples of best practices calls, compliance bulletins, and pre-shift announcements, dashboards can be configured to enable agents to monitor the progress of their call handling expertise and achievements on an ongoing, daily basis. They can view their quality scores, skill development trends, and KPI-based metrics – individually, or compared to the team.

Do agents feel oppressed by the presence of a dashboard? Do they resent the constant reminders of their performance to date – docked on their monitor throughout their shift? Far from it. Dashboards are proving to be powerful motivational tools for agents. Instead of waiting for a weekly report to inform them that their conversion rates have dropped or that they haven’t been adhering to new quality requirements, agents are presented with a constant update – providing them with the necessary impetus to take part in additional training sessions and take control of their own performance.

Lynn Grogan is product marketing manager for Camarillo, CA-based Voice Print International, a provider of interactions recording and workforce optimization solutions for contact centers.