Voicecom, a business unit of Ptek Holdings Inc., is utilizing a customer service performance analysis and reporting system to achieve an optimum balance between customer responsiveness and operational costs. Voicecom offers a suite of integrated communication solutions including voice messaging, interactive voice response services and unified messaging. These services support such applications as customer care, interpersonal messaging and enterprise communications for a variety of industries including financial services, healthcare, insurance and real estate. Voicecom's call center operates 24x7 to insure its clients receive the highest level of customer care possible.

The operational workhorse of the call center is an automatic call distribution (ACD) system that routes incoming calls to the appropriate help desk and manages call queues for customer care agents. The ACD system captures call-center activity statistics and stores them in a relational database at 15- minute intervals. These statistics are critical to understanding the customer's call-center experience and the ability of customer care agents to handle incoming calls. The data collected includes average call wait-in-queue time, average time spent talking with an agent, average call-hold time, issue- resolution codes and variety of other activity metrics.

Over the past several years, quality assurance and call center managers have used the ACD's built-in reports to assess call center effectiveness and make staffing decisions. The ACD reporting system is extremely important, but it lacks flexibility and functionality in many areas. The reporting system was unable to integrate data from other systems, reports could not be modified, new reports had to be created in other environments such as Microsoft Excel, and only data from the last 40 days was available for reporting.

In light of these shortcomings, Voicecom made the decision to build a robust Web-based reporting and analysis system. The company's management partnered with outside consultants to build the new system using MicroStrategy 7. An iterative rapid prototyping approach to business intelligence system development was adopted for the project. Within several days of gaining access to the ACD data, the project team developed a fully functioning prototype that demonstrated the capabilities of MicroStrategy and gave users an idea of potential new uses for the integrated reporting and analysis tool. A core group of users was selected to work with the new system throughout the development and testing phases of the project. As a result of the prototype and iterative development process, these users were able to offer advice for increased functionality, verify reporting results, identify additional valuable data sources and design new analysis requirements.

The first phase of the project included reports that users were accustomed to receiving from the old ACD reporting system as well as completely new reports. Many of the new reports take advantage of MicroStrategy's complex metric capabilities, report scheduling mechanisms and data drilling functionality. MicroStrategy's Web interface is intuitive, making it very easy for the users to feel comfortable with the new system.

The system has proven to be very beneficial. Customer care employees no longer have to compile reports in Microsoft Excel. Eliminating the need for manual data manipulation has increased report accuracy and saves the customer care department nearly 80 hours every month. In addition to reducing errors and saving time, the system simplifies report creation and integration of the ACD data with other organizational resources. Access to new information allows call center managers to identify "weak" spots and monitor the ability of call center agents to resolve customer issues on the first attempt. As with most systems, the ACD reporting and analysis application is continually evolving. New reports are created on a regular basis, and several data sources have been identified for integration during future phases of development. Voicecom plans to continue leveraging its data assets to improve customer care operations and maintain excellent service.

Special thanks to Ed Stefan, vice president of quality, and Robbie Touchton, quality assurance manager, at Voicecom Client Services for their contributions to this article.

MicroStrategy business intelligence enables corporations, their customers and partners to make more effective business decisions by transforming operational data into actionable information. MicroStrategy 7 provides solutions for all query, reporting and advanced analytical needs, and distributes insight to users via Web, wireless and voice.Greenbrier & Russel is an e-business solutions provider specializing in systems integration and training. The company combines a proven approach to project management with expertise in e-business strategy and implementation, business intelligence and customer relationship management, and package selection and implementation.

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