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Statistics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:
Statistics are an integral part of any business. They are superb when you want to understand your market and your performance. They are invaluable when you have no way of knowing the future outcome of a given situation. They help us make predictions through simple or complex analysis of historical data. They allow us to calculate probabilities. They enable us to make decisions in the absence of information. With the right reporting tools its likely you will reveal areas of improvements unbeknownst to you.

 

The Bad:
While some folks have sophisticated databases, multidimensional data-mining tools and perhaps even powerful reporting tools, they may inadvertently omit to include first-hand observations in their decision-making process.

 

If you have a way to determine what is going on rather than limiting yourself to calculations of what could be going on, then including observations of first-hand experience will go a long way. If you want to know how your agents are doing, spending time looking at what they are doing along with analyzing their statistics will provide the best picture. Be sure to balance and leverage real observations and statistical data. Each method on its own does not contain the same effectiveness as when you combine them. Analysis backed by observation is a powerful persuader.

 

The Ugly:
In the world of call centers there are a multitude of different ACD systems and each comes with its own data field names and its own methodologies of tracking activities and performance indicators. This very fact creates mass confusion and ultimately prevents your call center from reaching its full potential. Despite user groups created for each ACD system, managers continue to be challenged in attempting to get the right story on their reporting fields. To add salt to the wound, many business analysts then build elaborate reports on the misunderstood data fields.

 

They say “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”; imagine well-intentioned managers measuring the wrong things because they fail to grasp the nuances and complexities of the fields in their reports/databases. Far worst is the fact that most of these misinformed managers are absolutely clueless that they are interpreting their statistics incorrectly. Unfortunately, in my career I have had to inform too many such managers who were dumbfounded by the discoveries.

 

If you feel you have been trying to improve on a particular aspect of your call center and never seem to quite achieve it, then I urge you to consider facing the possibility that you too are a victim of this inconspicuous threat.

 

The Antidote:
It remains a challenge for managers, especially new ones, to navigate through the myriad of indicators and methodologies of tracking, here are some suggestions that might help you dissipate some of the fog and limit the damage:

  1. Balance statistics with real-life observations;
  2. When in doubt, perform real-life time and motion analysis whenever possible;
  3. Conduct regular calibration sessions: compare statistics to reality;
  4. Keep it simple: stick with basic indicators;
  5. Review ACD lexicon and feel free to consult with supplier;
  6. Use generic call center reporting software: their experts had to learn most ACD systems methodologies and logic;
  7. Seek out expert call center consultants with workforce management experience;
  8. Do not ignore your intuition when things don’t look right;

 

If you make first-hand observation your ally it will always come to your rescue. They say “you can make statistics say anything”, well “reality” will always help keep your statistics honest, but more importantly to keep them real, useful and effective.

 

Collaborate with reality and corroborate your statistics.

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