In the old days, call centers were seen as a necessary cost of doing business, a place to answer consumer questions, deflect complaints and perhaps sell an item or two. Today, many corporations regard multi-channel contact centers as the mission-critical front end of the business, the primary interface for addressing customer loyalty, attracting new revenue and aggregating a wealth of valuable consumer input. The problem is that while attitudes have changed, many organizations still manage the contact center as they did in the old days.What a perfect entree for performance management! My good friend Donna Fluss, who is a consultant and principal at DMG Consulting, says that performance management has been introduced into the contact center only in the last couple of years and that debate remains about the definition. In her new book, The Real-Time Contact Center (AMACOM, 2005), Donna tackles the revenue potential of contact centers and devotes a good bit of energy to the topic of contact center performance management.

"In the most basic sense, contact center performance management aligns the goals of the contact center with the goals of the corporation," Fluss says. "That alone is a major step because I'm now taking the contact center outside its four walls and saying the contact center is a part of the corporation. If the corporation is willing to work with performance management, a tool they are probably already comfortable with, we can finally align what's happened in the contact center with what's happened in the corporation."

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