Get the Most Out of Your Contact Center Reporting – Part 4

Welcome guest contributor Jeremy Markey! Jeremy has a few decades-long background in contact centers and shares from his experience working with agents at Hunter Douglas as the leader of CS Ops and Workforce Experience. Hunter Douglas is the leading manufacturer and marketer of custom window treatments in North America.

This article is the last in a 4-part series on the right way to do customer experience reporting.

A Few Words of Caution

In 2009, I found myself in the Philippines, on a mission to improve the performance of our contact center. While waiting for the elevator to arrive, my mind was already set on getting my second serving of the day of the delicious beef salpicao. I entered the lift and was joined by a group of locals whom I had not met before. They were grumbling about feeling unwell and needing to call out sick. One of them mentioned needing to purchase minutes to make the call, while another reminded her not to text as it wouldn’t count and she would get a no-call-no-show.

Little did these agents know that StarTek was suffering from an industry-high attrition rate, plagued by the problem of no-call-no-shows. Despite dozens of meetings and several policy adjustments, we were unable to find a solution. It wasn’t until I overheard this conversation—thanks to my addiction to beef salpicao—that we were finally able to address the problem.

As it turned out, we didn’t understand that in the Philippines, cell phone plans included text and data, but voice calls were charged extra. So even though agents would text their boss to inform them that they wouldn’t be in, we wouldn’t count it as a call because there was no actual call. It was a classic example of a runaway policy—despite being well-intended—had completely missed the mark.

Once we changed the policy to allow for either calls or texts, our attrition problem was solved almost overnight. It was a valuable lesson, and I caution anyone against learning the hard way.

Below, we’ll draw this reporting series to a close and outline methods to be mindful of the local context. Don’t assume that what works in one place will work in another.

Don’t Start Over from Scratch!

As you’re learning about reporting, it may be tempting to think that starting over from scratch is the best way to improve your contact center’s metrics. However, this is not always the case. In fact, throwing out past data and starting anew can be counterproductive. Contact centers are complex systems and complexity science suggests that the only way to truly understand what will happen in a complex system is to put the plan into action.

Often, metrics are designed with the expectation that they will bring about positive change, but this is not always the case. Your contact center is designed to produce the results it is currently achieving, thanks to the systems, processes, and metrics that have been put in place. Therefore, it’s important to approach change cautiously and take things slow. Instead of starting from scratch, consider making small changes to your existing system. This will help you gauge the impact of your modifications without risking a complete overhaul of your contact center’s operations. Remember, the only thing worse than a bad metric is a new metric that’s untested and unproven.

One Small Change for Big Results

In the quest for improvement, it’s easy to get carried away with making sweeping changes to your metrics and systems. However, as the adage goes, “slow and steady wins the race.” Making just one small change can lead to significant results, as demonstrated for us at Hunter Douglas. We focused on improving our top three metrics: Appearance rate, quality, and interactions per hour, and it led to improved performance across the board. We were able to reduce handle time, require fewer agents, and achieve better Average Speed of Answer (ASA).

This year, at Hunter Douglas, we’re making another small change. We realized that our appearance rate metric had lost its significance due to policy changes, so we’re replacing it with availability. The CSRs currently see this metric, even though it’s not on the dashboard, and we expect it to have a similar positive impact to the customer experience.

It’s important to remember that one small change per year is not a slow pace of improvement. Taking the time to observe year-over-year patterns and account for seasonality can make all the difference in identifying actual performance improvements rather than just seasonal anomalies. When making a change, it’s important to pull in previous historical data and normalize it as best you can. This process may not be perfect, but it allows for a more accurate assessment of the impact of the change. After a year of observation, you can then consider making the next alteration.

Anomalous Results/Runaway Metrics

Anomalous results, or runaway metrics, can occur when a particular metric is given too much attention and becomes an unbalanced focus of an organization. This can lead to unintended consequences, such as encouraging employees to engage in behavior that is counterproductive or not aligned with the company’s goals.

For example, if an organization focuses on interactions per hour without a balancing metric, employees may be incentivized to transfer difficult or long interactions to avoid negatively impacting their numbers. However, this can lead to longer overall time to resolution while reducing ease of doing business and customer satisfaction, as customers may feel like they are starting over with a new representative with each transfer.

Copying and pasting policies or metrics from other organizations without considering cultural and environmental differences can lead to unintended consequences. Each organization has unique challenges, and what works for one may not work for another. Instead, organizations should focus on developing metrics and policies that are aligned with their specific goals and values, and be willing to adapt as needed.

Runaway metrics can have negative effects on organizations if they are not carefully monitored and managed. By being aware of potential unintended consequences and staying flexible, organizations can avoid these pitfalls and achieve their desired outcomes.

Learn the Business and Anticipate Needs

From the perspective of the person responsible for reporting, the passive role of simply fulfilling requests is not enough to add value. In order to truly bring about better results, it is essential to actively engage with internal customers (internal customers are departments your support department supports) and anticipate their needs. To do this, it is necessary to first learn the business and get involved in its operations. This may involve listening to calls, participating in trainings, and taking on tasks outside of the reporting department.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the business, the next step is to embed yourself with internal customers and spend time with them. By listening to calls and attending meetings, you can gain insights into what they need now and what they will need in the future. This allows you to start building processes, systems, and metrics before they are requested, so that your customers have what they need when they need it.

By being proactive in this way, you can provide real insights and help your customers see where the business is going. This is a much more valuable approach than simply providing reports on past performance. By anticipating needs and providing solutions before they are even requested, you become a trusted asset to the organization and add real value to the business.

While it may be tempting to focus solely on fulfilling requests and meeting deadlines, investing the time and effort to anticipate needs and build solutions proactively ultimately leads to less work in the long run. By doing the right things, you can reduce the number of requests and provide more value to your customers.

Being in an environment where you are constantly looking ahead and anticipating needs is not only the right way to do reporting, but it is also the most fun and rewarding approach. By adding value and being seen as a resource that helps drive the business forward, you can become an integral part of the organization and a key contributor to its success.


There is significant importance in making small changes to metrics and systems to achieve significant results in a contact center. Instead of starting from scratch, it is better to take things slow and observe year-over-year patterns. Anomalous results or runaway metrics can occur when a particular metric is given too much attention, leading to unintended consequences. We advise developing metrics and policies that are aligned with specific goals and values and adapting as needed. And finally, the role of the person responsible for reporting is not just to fulfill requests but also to learn the business and anticipate internal customers’ needs to provide real insights and solutions proactively.

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