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How We Created Reporting That Worked in IT Support

Inaccessible data can be worse than nothing. Here is how to address the issue.

Years ago, when I was an up-and-coming leader trying to make my mark in the organization, a new corporate executive was brought in to lead the team. As is the case when a new leader is brought in, they want to make a mark, and they want to make a mark quick. He wanted to make business decisions that saved money and raised efficiency. How was he going to do that? Well, he knew that it all started by reviewing all of the reports we had available for him. After all, one thing that every contact center has is data, and lots of it. And lots of data means lots of reports.

Unfortunately, my new executive realized something quickly, that we all knew was the case: our reports were absolute garbage. Now it wasn’t because of a lack of effort and talent. We had beautiful looking reports based on lots of data. The only problem was that we really could never dig down deep enough to make good decisions off the data we had. High-level 30,000-foot data was always available, but detailed reporting that would enable business leaders to make quick decisions based off the data required hours and hours of manual digging to achieve.

At this point the challenge was presented to me. I was given the privilege of overhauling our reporting structure and I was given an entire 90 days to do it. The executive told me he was being generous in giving me 90 days instead of 60. I have never been one to turn away from a challenge, but this one felt like it could be a career killer. Fortunately for me, I had no choice but to figure it out and get it done. Here is where having a framework for tackling challenges comes into play.

What outcome were we tasked with getting to? At the end of the day we needed accurate and reliable reporting that was quickly accessible and that provided enough detail to make informed business decisions. How we got to the outcome was up to my team, but our outcome/objective was clear in our mind.

We then needed a cross-functional team to come together. I needed a large supply of ideas that we could vet out and then prioritize. We got subject matter experts from different groups and various levels to provide their input, including frontline representatives. Having frontline representatives that felt empowered as equals in the process was vital. We had an ideation session where everything was on the table. We went through the ideas to vet them out and then went about prioritizing them.

When we were all done, thanks to the insights provided by our frontline representatives, it was clear that our ticket categorization was the major source of confusion.

As is very often the case, the challenge we were facing at the time was based on decisions made years ago. In an effort to get reporting as granular as possible, when dispositioning a call with our customers, our representatives literally had hundreds of choices to choose from when it came to Platform and Category options. If something was part of the enterprise in any way, we had it covered. When an operation is small, this might work well, but as the operation became larger the sheer number of options became unmanageable.

As we did our analysis, we realized that there were close to 17,000 potential combinations of platforms and categories that our representatives could select. The sheer volume of options became confusing for the representatives and unmanageable from a leadership perspective. The result was that the reports were unreliable at best, and unusable at worst.

Knowing the challenge is part of the equation; implementing a solution is another part. It was clear that reducing and simplifying our ticket categorization had to happen, but it quickly became apparent that there was a lot of emotion tied to reporting for many. It took multiple meetings and a commitment to collaborate to get stakeholders on board.

When it was all said and done, categorization was reduced by 95%, and we went from 17,000 potential combinations to under 900. Still a lot of options, but the 95% reduction was a game changer. First Contact Resolution went up by 4%, First Level Resolution went up by 1%, and Internal Employee Satisfaction went up by 4%, as our team felt a part of the solution.

What lessons can be taken from this?

First off, don’t wait for a new executive to come in and insist on your reporting to be overhauled. If you know there is a problem, why not take the initiative to proactively address it? When you want to stand out in an organization, one way to make your mark is to proactively address a problem that others ignore.

Next, when there is a problem, figure out what your desired outcome is and then get together a cross-functional team that can address it.

Finally, whatever problem you are addressing in relation to the contact center, always get feedback from your frontline representatives. Accurate, reliable, and trustworthy reporting is the foundation of so much of what we do. Even when things look bleak, applying these suggestions can aid you to also get to a point where you have reporting that works for you!

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