How to Calculate Individual Contribution (ICon) in Your Contact
By Scott Bryant, principal, Dirigo Partners LLC
If you've ever wished for a single, comprehensive metric to evaluate the performance of your customer contact center, or if you've ever been asked by a call center rep (CCR), "Do you want me to be fast or to provide good service?" this article is for you.
Probably no single measure is so comprehensive as to replace all others, but a contribution approach — which I call Individual Contribution, or ICon — can provide great one-stop insight into overall performance, and can help quantify the balance between time and service.
The following calculation illustrates how the concept of contribution to profit and overhead might be applied at the individual CCR level. Start with:
Sales from orders taken by the CCR
+ other revenue (e.g., commissions from affinity programs)
- wages (including benefits)
- phone usage charges
- cost of rework
- customer service wages associated with resolving problem orders
- cost of returns/exchanges
- cost of appeasement (e.g., coupons, shipping reimbursement, discounts)
- incentives (e.g., bonuses, commissions)
- cost of deviation from standards
- occupancy (the amount of time a rep is on a call or available to take one)
= individual contribution to profit and overhead
Once the ICon calculation is made, it's easy to roll up the evaluation to the team and department levels.
There may be a tendency to try to make the contribution components unnecessarily precise. Don't do it. As long as the input is reasonable, accurate and consistent, it doesn't need to be taken out to 10 decimal places. For example, instead of trying to identify and evaluate the detail of each contact after the sale, it probably makes more sense to apply a standard cost per minute or per transaction when addressing the expense of problem resolution.
Another pitfall to avoid is the inevitable discussion of fault vs. no-fault when it comes to resolving customers' problems. It's natural to want to try to distinguish between those customer service issues and returns/exchanges caused by CCR error and those that aren't and to avoid penalizing for the latter. You can spend a great deal of time trying to differentiate between rep-fault, system-fault, customer-fault and so on. In the end, however, much of that differentiation becomes arbitrary and a cause for general dissatisfaction with the metric. In time the law of large numbers will cause chance elements (i.e., orders with back-ordered items, mis-picks in the warehouse, customers ordering two sizes and returning the one that doesn't fit) to stabilize and to be evenly distributed across the contact center workforce. Contribution differences among individual employees thus will be seen to be attributable to the performance of those employees.
The value of individual contribution lies not in the fact that it identifies and assigns blame better than conventional metrics, but that it uniformly applies the same criteria on which the business as a whole is evaluated.
As mentioned earlier, ICon is not a silver bullet to meet all of your measurement needs. It's just a common-sense application of a time-honored method for evaluating business and product performance. I can't think of a more meaningful performance metric than one that compares the investment in individual employees with the financial return on that investment.
Scott Bryant has nearly 25 years of experience as a senior executive in direct marketing operations and call center management. He is a principal with Dirigo Partners LLC, a general management consulting practice that specializes in helping clients achieve and sustain superior financial results through best practices in business planning, customer service, operations and fiscal management. Reach him at (336) 423-9477, via e-mail at email@example.com or via the Web site: http://generalmanagementconsultants.com/index.html.