Do slow applications affect call centre performance?

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1 Do slow applications affect call centre performance? A white paper examining the impact of slow applications on call centre quality and productivity Summary To be successful in today s competitive markets call centres must maximise the productivity of their staff and the quality of the service they provide. With this in mind, call centre managers have become adept at measuring their operations. But there is one metric that is often overlooked application performance. This white paper explores the impact slow applications can have on call centre productivity and quality. More importantly it examines how it can be measured and maximised. Increasing business performance with IT Quadnet Services Ltd, Quadnet House, London E10 7QZ T: +44 (0) E: W:

2 Introduction Call centres come in many forms with varying objectives but they all have one thing in common, the need for the highest levels of performance and productivity. Some of the types of call centres are Outbound telemarketing companies specialising in conducting research, uncovering leads and making appointments for their customers. Telesales operations that may be in-house or external, with staff operating on a commission basis, selling anything from insurance to utilities to extended warranties. Inbound call centres providing information, answering customer enquiries and taking orders and/or payments. To help them deliver the results they require call centre managers to have a comprehensive range of measures at their disposal. According to calllcentrehelper.com some of the top ten most important contact centre metrics are first contact resolution, customer satisfaction, average handling time, revenue per call and utilisation 1. By combining these measures call centre managers get a balanced view of both the quality and efficiency of the calls operatives are taking and making. A 2012 survey by Knowlagent and Unisphere Research 2 confirms this trend to measure both quantity and quality. However, there is one measure that doesn t make the top ten at calllcentrehelper.com yet has a significant impact on both the quality and efficiency of calls application performance. Call centres are dependent on technology Applications have always been at the heart of call centre operations and will continue to be. Of the 19 predictions for the future of the contact centre published by callcentrehelper.com, thirteen of the predictions are technology related. The Knowlagent survey provides similar insights, saying they were focusing on migrating to new technology or updating current systems. As call centres become even more dependent on technology, delivering the seamless experience customers expect, and needs of staff to work effectively, will be crucial to success. In this environment, every level of the technology stack will need to operate at peak efficiency. Staff Productivity Drops Unhappy Customers Loss of Sales Slow Application The affect of slow applications on a call centre Clearly the applications delivered to call centre operatives must support their work not slow them down. How many times have you rung a call centre only to be told: Sorry for the delay, my system s slow today? It hardly gives you confidence in the organisation, especially if you re on a premium call rate line, so brand image suffers. And it s not just one customer that may not come back. You can be sure their friends and relatives will hear about their experience. For the operator it s frustrating and de-motivational, which impacts their performance. It can also lead to high staff turnover. That s not something you want when you ve spent a great deal of time recruiting and training the best people. Plus, if operatives start taking notes on paper, rather than putting them straight into the system, valuable information is lost and errors start to occur.

3 Working with the IT department and system suppliers The problem is normally made worse when you approach to IT department they believe there systems are running fine and point to the supplier. After approaching the supplier they believe it s the internal IT systems. What you quite quickly find out is that no one owns the application from within the customer and staff are suffering Can Cloud computing solve the problem? Cloud computing also offers call centres significant advantages. Why pay to purchase, manage and maintain expensive IT infrastructure when you can have the applications you need delivered as a service? Having known, predictable costs allied to contracted Service Level Agreements (SLAs) is an attractive proposition. However, SLAs won t necessarily deliver the application performance you expect, as we shall see in the next section. Distributed Staff Virtual call centres and home working are becoming more prevalent too. It makes sense. Reducing investments in bricks and mortar cuts costs significantly while going virtual provides access to a greater potential labour pool. Once again, technology has a crucial part to play. However, this time, in addition to in-house resources, the services provided by external providers can have a significant impact on application and operative performance. Knowing there is a problem isn t enough, you have to know and be able to prove where it is. Customers want access to information in all kinds of ways The use of digital communication and assisted self-service channels is becoming more common. Phone, web, instant messaging and are already common. The use of mobile apps and social media is increasing. And customers will use whichever channel suits them best at any particular time. All these channels are underpinned by technology. Plus they need to be integrated, to give a consistent, 360º view of the customer, perhaps in seconds. You have to know that the technology is working perfectly every time. In cyber space you can t hear a customer scream with frustration.

4 Measure the application experience, not the mechanics Just as call centre managers are very adept at measuring operative performance; IT managers have measures in place to monitor the performance of the applications and infrastructure such as servers and databases. In the same way, external service providers and Software as a Service (SaaS) suppliers measure their services so they can prove they are meeting their SLAs. However, there is typically a problem with the metrics that these organisations use. They only measure the mechanics of what is happening. For example, IT departments will monitor statistics such as server workload, availability and network traffic and these have a place. But they do not indicate how the customer or operative perceives the system, so they can t tell you when there are problems that are impacting customer satisfaction and/or operative productivity. Something more is needed. To keep customers satisfied and staff motivated and productive, call centre managers must be able to measure their experience with the applications they are using. In today s complex, high tech call centre environments, where productivity and performance are totally dependent on technology, it s absolutely vital. Which is why we ve developed Business Application Performance Monitor. Manage the performance of the application Views for the business and IT Simply put, Business Application Performance Monitor is a suite of three interlinked services that continuously measure the impact of application performance on the users experience, monitor the underlying IT infrastructure for adverse trend and problems, and quickly pinpoint their source. Through real-time and historic dashboards you get complete visibility into the performance of the services employees are using. It enables you to instantly isolate and quantify the impact of trouble spots. Because the data provided is clear and concise, you don t need expensive experts to monitor your applications, the job can be done equally well by lower level staff. In addition, you save time in fault finding and prioritise the use of resources in real-time. As a result, difficulties that would otherwise adversely affect productivity and performance can be identified and acted on proactively, before they impact users. Should performance problems occur, they can be fixed more quickly by rapidly identifying the root causes. Make IT budgets go further Business Application Performance Monitor is fast to implement, extremely affordable and very powerful. In addition, combining the information it provides with more traditional measures not only helps call centre managers guard against productivity and performance problems, it also puts them firmly in control of their IT budgets. Build solid business cases easily Using the information provided by Business Application Performance Monitor the costs associated with poor application performance can quickly be determined, making it easier to develop sound business cases for further investments.

5 Avoid unnecessary system upgrades It s often difficult to know exactly what is causing an application performance problem, so organisations can easily end up over-investing to solve the problem. By clearly identifying the root cause, Business Application Performance Monitor helps to ensure they only spend the money they need to. At one organisation we solved the problem of a slow running application with a 4,000 memory upgrade rather than the 25,000 server purchase that had been suggested. Make sure IT investments have delivered what they have promised Knowing whether planned investments have achieved the intended results is often difficult. However, having the ability to measure application performance before and after a planned investment overcomes the difficulty and provides a clear picture of the improvements. Ensuring suppliers deliver on their promises With remote working and SaaS growing in popularity it can sometimes be difficult to know what exactly is causing application problems, potentially leading to finger pointing between suppliers. Because Business Application Performance Monitor can identify the root causes of problems, it puts you in a stronger negotiating position. When one of our customers saw performance drop at one of its locations they used Business Application Performance Monitor to identify that the problem was a leased line. When it was highlighted to the service provider a fault was found at the exchange. Without our solution no-one would have known. Next steps Whether they are inbound or outbound, specialist companies or part of larger organisations, today s call centres are high tech and complex. As such, they are heavily dependent on whole range of IT solutions that can have a highly detrimental impact on staff productivity and customer satisfaction if they perform poorly. Typically organisations have metrics in place to measure IT performance. Unfortunately, these metrics don t measure the one thing that really matters the user experience, but this is exactly what call centre managers need to know. When combined with more traditional measurements, the information Business Application Performance Monitor provides helps call centre managers ensure that the applications they are responsible for consistently deliver the highest quality of service to both customers and operatives. Our experience shows that productivity reductions caused by slow applications can easily cost a 50 employee organisation 300,000 per annum. Free Survey It allows you to build a business case to start fixing the problem Engage staff and show them that their views are being heard Gets the business, application suppliers and IT involved in a constructive dialogue Call: Web:

6 About Quadnet Our experience has taught us that IT is an enabler for the business and never stands alone. It is only in place to deliver results for the organisations that have invested in it. We have built our business on our understanding on this principal We appreciate the different priorities of those we serve - the business manager who wants his area of responsibility to succeed, the IT specialists who are focused on their equipment and more senior executives who want to see how to increase performance and help the bottom line. Businesses depend on their people and if they are to deliver their best those must be able to work as a team supported by the most efficiently configured IT. Technology is certainly important but it is not the end of our story. 1 Source: 2 Source: The Big 5: Overcome Top Call Center Challenges in /12/11

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