Now that we are firmly a part of the Information Age, we are drowning in well-meaning, number-driven movements like big data, analytics and business intelligence. As a result of this unrelenting surge of data from the floodgates, however, I find that many of my customers don’t know what to do with all of the information now available to them.
That’s why having a strategic and well-defined reporting mechanism in place is critical. Reports are a great way to distill large quantities of data into organized, actionable insights that can show you how well your systems and processes are performing.
In call centers, reports are typically used for two things: measuring performance, or improving efficiency and productivity. For example, many of my government customers are using reports to measure performance to ensure they are meeting their service level agreements (SLAs). Several of my commercial customers, on the other hand, use reports for continuous improvement of their operations and technology.
Those who aren’t using reporting are at a severe disadvantage because they really don’t know how they are performing against their goals.
Personally, I love reports.
In fact, creating the perfect report is almost an obsession. I spend hours working on the layout of my report – identifying the cleanest format, selecting the perfect graph, choosing the right colors. I am a big fan of the dashboard, especially if it is able to show me at-a-glance the information I need to see, color coded for my convenience.
But even within my own organization, I see a reluctance to use reports to make decisions. Several months ago, my IT staff approached me requesting approval to increase our internet bandwidth. “People are complaining,” they said. “Our internet is just too slow.”
Well, being the frugal person that I am, I asked to see a report showing the bandwidth utilization of our current internet usage. I wanted to make sure that their decision to increase our internet bandwidth was based upon evidence rather than just intuition. I also wanted to understand who were the biggest users of the internet traffic and what they were using it for.
When I finally got the report, it came along with an apology.
You see, when they finally ran a report and examined the traffic patterns, they found we were only using half of our available internet bandwidth from the carrier. After further analysis, my IT staff found that our router was configured incorrectly (half duplex vs. full duplex), and our own equipment was constraining the available bandwidth.
So a simple report was able to save us hundreds of dollars a month in unnecessary costs.
Here are a few tips that will help you create reports that are meaningful and can have significant impact to your organization:
Whether you’re seeking information for SLAs or continuous improvement, reports are the key to measuring your call center’s success. And with consistent oversight, you will find ways to improve your processes and applications to enhance your operations. So take the time to properly define the requirements for your reports at the beginning, and you are more likely to get the results you seek.