Enkata Enhances Contact and Operational Performance - InformationWeek

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Enkata Enhances Contact and Operational Performance

Version 5 applications deliver front and back office operational effectiveness.

VentanaMonitor™

Summary
Until now, performance management in contact centers has been quite immature. With the announcement of version 5 of its operational performance management applications, Enkata addresses some key issues faced by contact center and operations managers. Two features stand out. One, the applications span both front and back offices, which enables users to identify the root causes of customer contacts and instigate corrective action plans that will reduce the number and cost of contacts. Two, by analyzing past performance, the applications make it possible to handle new calls more effectively, improving customer satisfaction while also reducing costs. Ventana Research believes organizations in their chosen specialist markets will get great benefit from the best practices embedded in the applications as well as by working with Enkata’s experienced support staff.

Assessment
The focus at Enkata is to help organizations address the dual challenges of reducing the operational cost of their contact centers while enhancing customer satisfaction. To serve this end, the company’s product and service strategy is based on a three-step approach:

  1. Where possible, reducing the need for customers to contact the organization by analyzing previous contacts and setting in motion changes to back office processes that take corrective action to eliminate the root cause of the contacts.
  2. Determining the best self-service channel for the most common contacts based on individual customer preferences and previous contact history.
  3. Improving the efficiency of contact handling by ensuring call center representatives follow best practice processes and are supported by the most appropriate technologies.

The three components of the new version 5 applications of the operational performance management solution are Contact Performance, Back Office Performance and Voice of the Customer. Ventana Research sees this latest release as a very positive step toward addressing the key issue of aligning the contact center and the back office, as well as supporting broader performance management initiatives.

Version 5 of Contact Performance consists of Call Avoidance, Self Service and Agent Performance. Call Avoidance includes powerful functionality that identifies the root cause of a contact, tracks customer contacts through the complete process lifecycle and identifies points of failure, provides zoom-in capability to both structured and unstructured data, and identifies the probable impact on customer satisfaction for any given change of process. Self Service focuses on directing customers to the best channel for self-service, depending on the customer’s profile and type of contact. Agent Performance provides analytic tools to monitor individual customer service representatives, teams of representatives or business initiative performance. Organizations looking to drive down the cost of managing customer contacts while still maintaining customer satisfaction should take a careful look at this functionality as part of a program to improve the performance of the contact center.

Enkata has used its experience working with organizations in the health care and telecommunications sectors to develop industry-specific Back Office Performance applications that improve the processing of health insurance claims and telecommunications billing. Combined with Call Avoidance, Back Office Performance can improve overall operational performance by closing the loop between why customers are calling and what changes can be made to reduce the need for them to call. Organizations within these industries should look at how they can get the most benefit from the best practice processes and key performance metrics now embedded in the applications. Companies in other industries should consider working with Enkata to determine whether similar models can be developed for their industries.

Voice of the Customer concentrates on improving customer satisfaction through a series of reporting, analytic and scorecard functions focused on profiling satisfied and dissatisfied customers. The goal of this component is to identify and make proactive changes that increase customer retention. This module includes the capability to compare the profiles of customers that don’t call against those that do in order to identify potential ways to eliminate calls.

Enkata has recognized that functionality alone does not lead to improved performance. The new applications therefore are prepackaged with industry best practice processes and key performance metrics that give new users a firm starting point. This packaging makes it possible to achieve low-risk, rapid deployments that can be tuned to meet individual organization requirements. Ventana Research sees the adoption of industry best practices as a positive continuing trend in the marketplace, but notes that it relies on organizations being mature enough to adapt internal processes and change people’s behavior, rather than trying to customize the applications to fit with how they work today. Organizations should ask vendors for access to previous case histories from which they themselves can learn.

Market Impact
Contact center performance management is still in its infancy. Many organizations continue to take the approach that the best way to reduce costs is to focus on agent productivity -- to drive up the number of calls they handle a day -- without proper regard for the business impact of this approach. An obvious consequence of this increased demand on workers is the very low customer satisfaction ratings many contact centers receive. More mature organizations have recognized the failure of this policy and are striving to bring about change.

That effort is driving up the need for BI, analytics and scorecarding designed specifically for contact centers. The traditional BI vendors, such as Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion, believe their solutions can be customized to meet these requirements, but most organizations will find doing this time-consuming and expensive. Some of the major CRM vendors, including salesforce.com, SAP, Onyx and Siebel, have jumped on the bandwagon and are updating their functionality to include contact center reporting and analytics. At the same time, a number of mid-tier vendors, including Performix, Hardmetrics, Merced Systems and The Opus Group, are emerging with solutions that are focused on contact centers. These products provide contact center-specific solutions to overcome issues such as integration with multiple disparate sources of data, aligning back office and contact center processes and generating business-related contact center metrics. Their supply models also vary tremendously, from traditional in-house implementations to managed services to on-demand services. Enkata has gone one step further toward true performance management as it supports organizations in setting goals, optimizing their processes and measuring success through a tiered layer of analytics/scorecarding. Ventana Research believes its products will continue to make inroads into the marketplace, both as adjunct solutions to some of the bigger vendors and as stand-alone solutions.

Recommendation
The Enkata version 5 applications include new functionality for existing users that should also be of interest to potential new customers. As a result of Enkata working closely with existing customers, the new applications now contain additional best practice processes and key performance metrics for health care claims and telecom billing. Ventana Research believes organizations within these industries should consider seriously how these applications can help them improve their performance. The integration between the three major components -- Contact Performance, Back Office Performance and Voice of the Customer -- will be of great interest to organizations that want to align their back-office operations with their contact centers while keeping customer satisfaction a top priority. Although the individual components in themselves may not be unique, the packaging of all three together provides a very strong solution that organizations from a wide range of industries should look at.

About Ventana Research

Ventana Research is the preeminent research and advisory services firm helping our clients maximize stakeholder value with Performance Management throughout their organizations. Putting research in a business and IT context we provide insight and education on the best practices, methodologies and technologies that enable our clients to leverage assets to understand, optimize, and align strategies and processes to meet their goals and objectives.

© 2005 Ventana Research

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