Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Agents Performance Management is Hot for Successful Customer Interactions

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 16, 2012 12:23:42 PM

Our benchmark research into agent performance management shows that the majority of companies are not very mature in their use of people, processes, information and technology in handling customer interactions. Companies are most mature is their use of information, but even in this area they are hampered by their failure to use the latest technologies available to support their efforts.

To help companies understand and evaluate those technologies, we have released our 2012 Value Index for Agent Performance Management (APM), in which we assess the competency and maturity of vendors and products in this domain. Our firm has been researching this category for many years, and this experience has led us to define APM slightly differently from many other firms and vendors. We include in it the common systems usually defined as workforce optimization (WFO) – call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, and agent training and coaching – and add recording of all interaction types, agent-related analytics and compensation management. This inclusion reflects the fact that agents now handle many forms of interactions, as well as the importance for companies to understand the performance of agents from many perspectives and the impact of variable pay on people’s performance.

I am excited to bring the Value Index for APM to market again this year. No other research firm performs this level of analysis or follows it up on a regular basis. The Ventana Research methodology links our benchmark research, which identifies the capabilities and services that are most important to companies, with a request for proposal approach to assess how vendors perform against key criteria. Our research results enable us to identify best and worst practices, which allows us to refine how we assess technology vendors in any category. Each Value Index takes six months to complete, because unlike other firms we focus on the product details that have the most importance to successful adoption and use.

As regards APM, the combination of our benchmark research and the Value Index covers all aspects of managing employees who handle customer interactions. We look closely at five key product areas – usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability – and the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO/ROI. We examine role-based requirements for an organization, as well as integration with other systems connected with handling interactions, such as call routing. Our Value Index methodology assesses vendors across the seven key areas, and each is weighted according to its priority to buyers. We sum the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. You can read the details about our methodology and process in the full APM Value Index report.

The WFO market is quite mature, but APM is less mature, with several niche vendors supporting only one category, some providing a suite of products that includes a subset of our full APM definition, and only one – NICE Systems – that offers a full APM suite. You can find the details of vendors we cover in the Value Index in the APM Value Index Report Executive Summary. We advise companies considering purchases in this area to carefully identify their requirements and then use this report to identify vendors that fit those requirements most closely.

The APM market is increasingly competitive, and our analysis in the APM 2012 Value Index found 11 vendors that provide robust offerings and thus are rated Hot, the highest value level, which demonstrates maturity of their offerings. The top five vendors are closely ranked, with Verint first overall, followed by NICE Systems, VPI, Envision and CallCopy. Verint advanced the most from our 2011 APM Value Index largely because it has more integration of its products and developed a new user interface, but it does not yet include compensation management. NICE Systems has the most complete suite of products but has not fully integrated all of them. VPI, Envision and CallCopy all have robust suites but lack full multichannel interaction capture and some elements of analytics. The other Hot vendors – OnviSource, Genesys, inContact, Aspect and LiveOps – all have comprehensive suites of products but lack different elements of the full APM definition. Enkata is the most specialized vendor included in the category; its products focus on quality monitoring, training, coaching and analytics.

We take pride in our Value Index, and we believe it is cool to be a Hot vendor. The competitive market for these applications comprises a mature set of products. Congratulations to the vendors that survived our detailed assessment process and granular analysis, which represent how savvy organizations assess and select vendors. For further information, you can download the executive summary. We look forward to continuing to offer guidance to buyers in this critical application category; it is vital information for contact center executives and managers who need to engage and retain employees who handle interactions, enabling them to take a comprehensive approach to agent performance management.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, NICE Systems, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, VPI, Call Copy, Enkata, Envision, Genesys, KnopahSoft, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Workforce Performance, Call Center, coaching, Compensation, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, OnviSource, Training, Verint, Workforce Force Optimization

Richard Snow

Written by Richard Snow

Richard leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Performance Management research practice, which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers, throughout their lifetime and across all touch points, including the contact center. He conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valors. In his work, he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators, and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors.