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Welcome everyone. I’m Jeff Rumburg, Managing Partner of MetricNet. In Metrics Essentials for Contact Center Professionals, my goal is to teach you everything you need to know, to leverage metrics for success in your contact center.

Today, in the sixth module of our course, we’re going to begin a discussion of HOW to benchmark your contact center. Benchmarking is not complicated, but it is a lengthy topic. So, we’re going to tackle this module in multiple parts. In Part 1, we are going to discuss the motivation and business case for benchmarking, we will also discuss benchmarking peer group selection, meaning who you benchmark against, and finally, in Part 1, we will discuss where you can obtain benchmarking data.

Let’s briefly review our benchmarking definition from the last module. Benchmarking is a mainstream tool for measuring and managing contact center performance. It enables you to quantify your performance, compare your contact center to others in your industry, identify performance gaps, and define actions that are necessary to close or mitigate the gaps. It’s the single most effective tool to bring about rapid continuous improvement in the contact center.

Contact centers cite numerous motivations for benchmarking. Here are just a few of the more common reasons that contact centers undertake benchmarking. They include:

• Baselining
• Cost Reduction
• Quality Improvements
• Continuous Improvement, and many others

Please note the last reason listed: Achieve World-Class Performance. In just a moment, I’m going to define what that is.

But first, let me share a startling statistic with you. Contact centers that engage in annual benchmarking almost always achieve world-class performance. While those who don’t benchmark almost never achieve world-class performance. This is why there is a near perfect, one-to-one correspondence, between contact centers that benchmark annually, and those who achieve world-class performance. For those who are serious about achieving excellence in the contact center, benchmarking is simply the most effective tool to achieve that objective.

Since I’ve used the phrase “World-Class”, left me be specific and define what I mean by a world-class contact center.

There are four criteria that define a world-class contact center. First, is quality. A world-class contact center will be in the top quartile for customer satisfaction or some other quality metric, such as Net Promoter Score. You may recall from our last module that the top quartile for customer satisfaction in a contact center is 94.6% or higher.

Secondly, a world-class contact center will manage their costs well. Once again, this means that your costs will be in the top quartile, meaning the lowest cost quartile. In the last module you may recall that the best quartile for Cost per Minute of Handle time is $.88 cents or less.

Thirdly, a world-class contact center will be following industry best practices. Later in the course I will talk about those best practices in detail.

And finally, a world-class contact center will have an ROI above 100%. In simple terms, this means that the economic value that’s created by the contact center will be greater than the annual operating cost of the contact center. The ROI methodology will also be discussed later in this course.

Unfortunately, a lot of what is called benchmarking in this industry is not benchmarking at all. Rather, it’s just a collection of data that is extracted from random contact centers that have almost nothing in common. But the most important success factor in benchmarking is to benchmark against a valid peer group of other contact centers.

In simple terms this means that the peer group that you benchmark against must be similar to your contact center in at least four dimensions. These include the scope of services you offer, the volume of contacts you handle, the complexity of those contacts, and the geography that your contact center operates in.

Briefly, here’s why each of these matter. The services you offer, what we refer to as the scope of your contact center, will impact everything from the qualifications of the resources you hire, to the training they receive, to the handle time of your contacts.

Scale refers to the volume of contacts you handle. Contact centers are scale sensitive, and specifically, the Cost per Contact is a function of the volume of contacts handled. For example, we would never want to benchmark a 10,000 contact per month contact center against a 100,000 contact per month contact center because the larger contact center will have scale economies that the smaller contact center simply does not have. And those scale economies have an impact on all of the contact center KPIs.

So, our recommendation is that you benchmark only against other contact centers that handle the same volume as your contact center, plus or minus 20%, thereby ensuring that the scale economies are roughly the same.

Complexity is somewhat self-explanatory. Perhaps an example is the best way to illustrate this. If I call my bank and put a stop payment on a check, that’s a relatively simple transaction with an average handle time of about three minutes. By contrast, if I call my bank to apply for a home loan or even an auto loan, that transaction is much more complex, and will have a much longer handle time. It’s the average of these transactions that make up the complexity, and this, in turn, is the biggest driver of handle time. Put another way, we would never benchmark a contact center with a 15-minute average handle time (AHT) against a contact center with a 5 minute AHT because those differences in handle time are due to differences in the average complexity of contacts handled by the two contact centers.

Finally, geography is important because it impacts wage rates, and wage rates make up the majority of cost in a contact center. So, for example, I would never recommend benchmarking a North American contact center against an offshore contact center, particularly a contact center in a low-cost region, such as India or the Philippines. The wage rates and hence the costs are just too different, and the benchmarking comparison would not be valid.

Perhaps now you can see why so many, so-called benchmarks, are invalid. It’s because the contact centers in the benchmark have not been selected and normalized based on these four criteria.

You may be wondering why vertical market, or the industry, is not shown as a selection criteria for the benchmarking peer group. The short answer is that it just doesn’t matter. For example, I can benchmark a reservations contact center for an airline against a reservations contact center for hospitality or hotels, as long as the contact centers are comparable on the four dimensions we have discussed: scope, scale, complexity, and geography. This also helps to dispel a common myth in the industry, which is that you can only benchmark within your vertical market. That’s just not true. And in fact, you will benefit by having both competitors, from your vertical market, as well as contact centers from outside of your vertical market, in the benchmarking comparison group. The reason? Because some vertical markets have more mature contact centers than others. And if you constrain yourself from benchmarking outside of your vertical market, you are likely to exclude some of the best performing contact centers from your benchmark.

One question I always get…always…is…where can I find benchmarking data for my contact center? The answer is simple, but not obvious. There’s a common misperception that you can find benchmarking data with a Google search. And while it’s true that you can find some contact center data with an internet search, it’s highly unlikely that any data you find from public or published sources on the internet will be comparable to your contact center.

Why? For all the reasons that I mentioned on the last slide. For a benchmarking comparison to be valid, the contact centers in the comparison group, the peer group, must be comparable in scope, scale, complexity and geography. Nothing you find on the internet, or in any other public information source, has been normalized to reflect the unique operating environment of your contact center. And without that, you won’t have a valid benchmarking comparison.

So, what is the obvious answer that I alluded to? The data comes from companies, like MetricNet, that make a business out of collecting, normalizing, and archiving contact center data. In other words, benchmarking companies, like MetricNet, are where you will find contact center benchmarking data.

This is not a MetricNet sales pitch. I’m just giving you the honest answer. If you want valid benchmarking data for your contact center, the only place to get it, is from a company that specializes in contact center benchmarking.

This concludes Part 1 of our sixth module. I would invite you to join me for part 2 of Module 6, where I will illustrate some of the most effective ways to present your benchmarking data. I want to thank you for joining me today. I’m Jeff Rumburg, Managing Partner of MetricNet.

Angela Irizarry

Angela Irizarry is the President and Chief Operating Officer at MetricNet, where she is responsible for managing day-to-day operations, strategic planning, and new client acquisition. She also oversees the company's sales and marketing efforts and manages its intellectual property and online resources. Angela has been with the company for 10 years and has over 20 years of experience in business development and strategy. She has been featured in Fortune magazine and has received recognition for her work in competitive and trends analysis from executives at a variety of Fortune 100 companies. Angela is a dynamic and accomplished professional who consistently delivers exceptional results for MetricNet and its clients. She has a wealth of industry experience and a track record of success in driving business results, particularly in the financial services, insurance, and healthcare sectors. Angela is highly skilled in communication, problem-solving, and project management, and is committed to delivering the highest level of service to MetricNet's clients.

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