WARNING: Benchmarking Can Be Hazardous to Your Operation's Health

Strategic Solutions

WARNING: Benchmarking Can Be Hazardous to Your Operation's Health

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  May 16, 2014

CUSTOMER Magazine spoke recently to Mark  Miller, the senior director of contact center solutions at J.D. Power, a leading market research company. We asked Mark to describe  the benefits and pitfalls of benchmarking performance when building a world-class contact center.

How can benchmarking be hazardous? One benchmarking hazard is comparing your performance against the “average” performance of other contact centers. Keep in mind that 50% of the organizations will perform “better than average.” Settling for better-than-average gives the false impression that you’ve effectively differentiated yourself when you may not have.

J.D. Power’s contact center benchmarks regarding customer experience and operational performance are derived from our certified contact centers, which represent multiple industries. Each certified organization has demonstrated that they provide an outstanding customer experience, as verified through rigorous customer  satisfaction research that puts them in the top 20% of all customer care and direct sales organizations. We document what these organizations do to achieve this high level of performance through extensive analyses and on-site evaluations of more than 200 practices. The net result is an unparalleled understanding of the strategies, tactics, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of top  performers. These are true benchmarks that can help an organization reach targets and maintain a culture of ongoing improvement.

What are some successful benchmarking strategies?

1) Benchmark against others that value the same service standards as you do

Organizations that use J.D. Power benchmarks  value most the provision of superior service to their customers, and they balance that against their other priorities. They either currently provide, or want to provide, a differentiated experience through service. If your organization puts customers first, then benchmarking against organizations that put operational issues ahead of customers won’t  help you improve. Controlling costs remains an operational imperative, even among  organizations that prioritize the customer experience. However, many of those organizations achieve cost controls through improvements in customer and representative retention and first call resolution as a result of  their service orientation. Regardless of what your organization values most, benchmarking against organizations that share those values will improve your benchmarking.

2) Benchmark operational practices, not just statistics 

Managing operational metrics or statistics is not enough. For example, it is insufficient to benchmark and then act on rep attrition statistics without understanding the drivers of that attrition. High-performing companies  benchmark at least three elements to get the whole picture:

(1) customer experience (including loyalty); (2) key operational and performance metrics; and (3) best practices.
3) Look outside your industry for top performers

Another critical component of effective benchmarking is to look at what high performers outside your industry do.  Almost without exception, your customers’ expectations of your contact center are not wholly created by interactions with your competitors or even within your industry, but rather by interactions with high-performing organizations outside your industry. A great experience anywhere becomes the standard by which consumers judge all other experiences, and J.D. Power can help organizations meet that standard.

 Visit  jdpower.com/contactcenter, email information@jdpa.com, or call (888) JDPower  to learn more about J.D. Power’s suite of solutions for the contact center industry. 




Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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