Volume 5, Issue 12 - October 1, 2010

Our Contact Info:

David Butler
Executive Director

National Association of Call Centers
100 South 22nd Avenue
Hattiesburg MS 39401
Tel: 601.447.8300


In Queue circulation 53,817

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NACC Investment Portfolio

The NACC Investment Portfolio moved into positive territory once again (finally!). The portfolio stands at positive $3.15. See the green color, that is a good thing. Note that Verint is in positive territory as we predicted early this year. APAC is the other company in the profile that is also in positive territory. Wipro is almost there, just barely below. Everyone other stock is at least 2 dollars in the red from the purchase price.

NACC Composite Index

The NACC Composite Index was up to 71.85 points this past month. We expect the index to climb slowly over the following months. As we reported in an previous issue, many companies are sitting on large volumes of cash, in the trillions of dollars worth, and need to do something with it, make the money work for the company. One solution that people have found for this money is mergers and acquistions (M&A). In short, companies with cash are buying other companies to increase their position, market share, technology portfolio, etc. for the recovery. Expect to see some of this activity in the contact center industry over the next few quarters.

The NACC Composite Index was up nearly 10% this path month while the other indices were up between 4% to 6% each. 


"Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said Because it is there. Well, space is there, and were going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there."
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Picture of the Month

Let me introduce you to GJ581g. GJ581g, these are the readers of In Queue. OK, let me tell you a bit about GJ581g. She is a planet, 20 light years away from Earth, is about 3 or 4 times the weight of Earth but only about 1.2 to 1.4 larger in size. GJ581g's sun is not like ours. Hers is much smaller and much redder. But she is at the right distance from her little red star to have the right temperature to find water in liquid form on the planet and the gravity is about that of Earth so an atmosphere can form. All this is to say that maybe, just maybe, the could be life out there beyond Earth similar to ours. If you are curious 20 light years is equivalent to approximately 120,000,000,000,000 miles.

Reports from the NACC

The NACC has been burning the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are sore to bring out reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you are interested to see what we are writing about, click on the images below and download the executive summary of each. If you like what you see, join the NACC so that we can send you these reports and others that will be coming out soon to ensure you know the latest trends in the industry.

Web 2.0 and Social Media: On Your Mind and In Our Newsletter!

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,

Survey responses from our annual member and reader survey indicate that Web 2.0 and social media are clearly on the collective mind of the contact center industry. In our survey we asked respondents the following question:

"Is your contact center using or preparing to use Web 2.0 applications in any way?"

Responses were as follows:

-Very active in the use of Web 2.0 applications-16.7%

-Preparing to incorporate Web 2.0 applications in the next 12 months-16.7%

-Looking to incorporate Web 2.0 framework in the next 24-48 months-26.5%

-No because we don't think Web 2.0 will have any impact on our contact center-18.6%

-What's Web 2.0?-21.6%

It's interesting to note that when we asked a similar question to contact center professionals in our 2009 survey, there were no respondents actively using Web 2.0 and/or social media in any way. Only 12.7% of respondents reported that they were actively preparing plans to incorporate Web 2.0 framework and applications in their contact center. Results from this year indicate that even more than expected are now actively using Web 2.0 in their customer service activities. 24.5% of last year's respondents thought that Web 2.0 would have no impact on their contact center. That number is down to 18.6% of respondents this year. This year's survey illustrates that the impact of Web 2.0 is moving faster than expected and the industry is clearly embracing this new framework in the contact center.

At the NACC we are studying the potential impact of this new generation of Web-based applications and will continue to report developments to our members and readers. Recent announcements of new contact solutions from leading vendors are covered in this newsletter and NACC members can expect more in-depth analysis of these announcements in the form of NACC News Notes in the next few days.

In this issue you will also find an article authored by Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO of Calabrio. As you probably know by now, Calabrio is an active supporter of our efforts at the NACC so we encourage you to take a few minutes to learn about what Calabrio is doing regarding Web 2.0, social media and workforce optimization. Bringing these powerful cultural and business phenomena together makes for a compelling story. It will be well worth your time to read about it.

For those of you that haven't already done so, be sure to take a minute to download a complementary copy of a paper I authored on the subject of the impact of Web 2.0 beyond social media. Just click on the Calabrio logo or the image of the paper's cover page that can be found on this newsletter. This research is provided by Calabrio at no cost to In Queue readers.

Also in this issue is an analysis of this week's announcement of text analytics for social media from Verint. We believe this will be the first of many announcements covering social media solutions for the contact center, so stay tuned. NACC members will receive analyses of these solutions via NACC News Notes as they become available.

We believe the contact center industry is about to enter a period of accelerated growth based upon the impact of these new technology solutions and the affect they will have on the advancement of the science of customer care. Web 2.0 is a cultural phenomenon that will permanently influence the profile of customer service in the contemporary contact center.

Web 2.0 Makes a Workforce Optimization Suite "Sweeter"

Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO of Calabrio

There's no doubt workforce optimization software is an essential part of any contact center operation, increasing efficiency and productivity, empowering agents and exposing customer service opportunities. Workforce management products provide a critical component to businesses that seek to balance agent availability with demand for their services. Combine that with other software options like quality assurance and analytics products, and the potential for true optimization increases exponentially. That is, if each component can effectively complement each other automating many of the business tasks that routinely take place in the enterprise.

Today's Challenge with WFO
Workforce optimization conceptually brings together many parts of the whole. But up until now, such a suite didn't truly exist. Contact centers could only piece their solution together by building from elements that may or may not have integrated smoothly. Moreover, applications often overlap, adding lack of clarity and cumbersomeness.

With each user requiring different elements in their workforce optimization software, a better option incorporates a consistent look and feel while delivering the ideals that make so many Websites popular and easy to use, such as a clear and comprehensive view, intuitive navigation and consistency between applications. Work silos effecting performance need to be eliminated so users are able to effectively multi-task and move freely within applications.

Why Web 2.0 is the Right Choice for the Contact Center
Web 2.0 is most commonly associated with interactive social media sites like iGoogle, and the ability to personalize and network with other users. Web 2.0 is an infinite set of sites and principles that come together in a framework with endless conceptual possibilities.

One popular function of Web 2.0 is its ability to incorporate widgets or gadgets. Widgets can be installed in any HTML-based Webpage by the user to add a visual component, game, or application. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable separate software programs to share data, which simplifies integration from one application to another.

For these reasons and more, a workforce optimization suite built in a Web 2.0 framework delivers on the benefits that a software suite should offer.

Ease of Use
With Web 2.0, each user's toolsets can be personalized: whether it's an executive who wants to correlate contact center performance to business results, a conscientious agent who wants to measure their own performance, or a multi-tasking supervisor who needs convenient access to scheduling and customer interaction tools.

Web 2.0 ties multiple software components together creating inter-application workflow opportunities, and users can incorporate pieces from one product into another seamlessly. The concept of workspace truly becomes optimized when the most commonly used and vital applications are also the most accessible, and everything is just a click away.

With Web 2.0, it's easy to incorporate new software components as their needs evolve. Web 2.0 can not only improve the performance level of the contact center, but can do so in a way that's easier than thought possible. Want to extend the options of your software suite? Want to add applications tailored especially towards the needs of the user? You can. By keeping the suite simple down to its core, contact centers can incorporate new functions in a flash.

Best of all, Web 2.0 offers more opportunities with less to worry about. The IT staff can focus on the areas that matter most while maintaining the utmost level of reliability for the enterprise.

What's on the Horizon?
Generation Y, the fastest growing segment of the American workforce, demands a work environment that thrives on specifics when it comes to job performance and expectations. Gen Y, also known as Gen "Why", isn't afraid to ask why a bad habit wasn't corrected immediately, preventing the possible lull in performance in the first place. Incorporating technology in the format this majority of users are most familiar with promises improvements in workplace efficiency, ultimately enhancing customer service.

A contact center's foundation is built on the ability to effectively communicate. The possibilities truly remain limitless, and one can only speculate on the surprises in store for Web technology. Until then, we can sit back, enjoy, and imagine the infinite applications yet to be developed and experienced.

From the Trenches

Take Time to Listen to the Voice of the Employee

Lori Fraser, Consultant -- Strategic Contact,

If you've spent your life in contact center operations as I have, you're a glutton for information. Wallboards, dashboards. ACD, IVR, CTI reports. Workforce management projections. Business results. Customer satisfactions surveys. You pour over the daily, weekly, and monthly stacks of management reports to discern what's going right -- or wrong -- with your center. But amidst this mountain of available data, there's a resource that is often overlooked: the Voice of the Employee. There's never been a better time to lend an ear to what they're saying.

Your Supervisors and Customer Service Representatives have a grass roots understanding of how people, process, and technology come together (or not) in your center. Employee surveys -- whether formal or informal -- identify, quantify, group, and pinpoint issues and possible options for further discussion and development. You may be aware of what needs to be fixed or changed, but staff is dealing with the issues on a daily basis. They know the problems and have worthy ideas on potential solutions. They can help you identify:

  • Broken processes and workflows
  • Technology gaps and headaches
  • Common customer complaints
  • Employee concerns -- e.g., career path limitations and opportunities
  • Limitations with cross- and up-sell efforts
  • Regional/site differences that influence workflows, career path options, employee satisfaction, and agent retention

Surveys in this context go beyond generic employee satisfaction polls that your corporate offices may administer from time to time. You need an approach that is specific to the contact center and the associated working environment. The means through which you gather input will be a function of the size and complexity of your operation, the scope of the issues you choose to address and, of course, time, resources, and budget.

Survey Methods



Best Fit

Side-By-Side Observations

Quick to implement
Sampling hints at areas for formal survey

Feedback confined to a handful of agents/groups
Agent/group selection and self-consciousness can skew results

Initial discovery for small to medium center
Short time table
Ongoing audit

Focus Group

Short implementation time frame
Samples larger group in dialog with one another

Vocal participants tend to dominate input
Agent/group selection can skew results

Initial discovery for centers of all sizes
Short time table
Targeted topic(s)

Formal Survey (IVR, web)

Statistically significant results across broad range of employees
Responses categorized across sites, groups, and subgroups

Longer implementation time frame
Requires survey design and analysis expertise, as well as a tool to gather survey input

Initial discovery for large-scale centers, multi-site operations, and/or high profile projects
Development phase for change recommendations

When all the votes are tallied, you'll likely find that you've validated your gut feeling on some issues, identified new options for consideration, and uncovered a few blind spots where you've missed the silent majority on key issues. The insights you glean could save you time and money by focusing your energies and resources on the right initiatives. It'll give you a head start on defining requirements for managing the people side of change. And soliciting employee input can be a means to secure buy-in IF you close the loop by sharing findings and your action plan with staff.

As you prepare to dip your toe in the Voice of the Employee waters, give due consideration to using a third party to design and administer your program. While it adds to the cost of the effort, there are clear benefits to an independent perspective:

  • Outsiders bring expertise and experience in contact center operations, survey design, and results assessment without an insider's bias and/or hidden agenda
  • Your employees are more likely to express their opinions candidly.
  • The process will surface the issues and possible root causes before jumping to conclusions and solutions.

Verint Introduces Text Analytics for Workforce Optimization

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,

On September 29th, Verint® Systems introduced the Impact 360® Text Analytics™ solution for their Customer Interaction Analytics™ portfolio (Whew. Writing all those trademark symbols wears me out). This new offering is the result of a partnership between Verint and Clarabridge, Inc., a text analytics company well-known in marketing circles.

Impact 360 Text Analytics provides users the ability to data mine customer interactions and feedback across a number of customer communications channels including e-mail, web chat sessions, blogs, review sites, social media and other text-based channels. This product introduction is particularly timely given the expected impact of social media on the contact center, as discussed in my article at the top of this newsletter.

While monitoring text communications has typically fallen to the marketing department in the past, it is now migrating to the contact center as social networking becomes the medium of choice for the next generation of consumers to communicate about their company and product experiences. Mining text-based channels in conjunction with mining voice channels for customer intelligence brings a holistic view of the customer to those charged with customer care. The net result is a greater understanding of the voice of the customer.

Verint's Impact 360 Text Analytics solution is available for immediate delivery. For more information about Impact 360 Text Analytics visit

Practical Performance Management

Paul Stockford, Research Director, National Association of Call Centers and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,

For the second year in a row, performance management is at the top of the list of technology solutions that NACC survey respondents intend to evaluate for purchase over the next 12 months. Desktop analytics is the other solution that joins performance management at the list of technology solutions of greatest interest to our respondents.

I recently read an interesting article that looks at the human side of the performance management equation. I usually look at the industry from a trends/technology/opportunity aspect so this article was particularly enlightening. The article, entitled "The Three Phases of Performance Management" can be found in the current issue of Contact Center Pipeline magazine (

In the article, author Rebecca Gibson sets out a detailed roadmap for the successful implementation of a performance-based review for both agents and managers. She also talks about the three pitfalls of performance management and addresses some of the reasons that performance management programs fail.

Adding the human element to the technology solution provides a whole different perspective on performance management. Be sure to read this informative article in Contact Center Pipeline. If you're not a subscriber, go to www.contactcenterpipeline for subscription details.

Call Center Comics!

If you like this comic and would like to see more write Ozzie at and visit his website at or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.

Sponsor Reports

Click on the image below if you would like to download a copy of this Web 2.0 report from Calabrio written by Paul Stockford.

To view past issues of In Queue, please click here.

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Copyright 2010 National Association of Call Centers

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