Is it possible to get excited about benchmarking? For sure!
You’re seven years old. It’s the night before your birthday. Your mum tucks you into bed, kisses your forehead, and switches off the lights. You can hear your heart beating – fast. You sense your breathing by the rise and fall of your duvet cover. Getting to sleep seems impossible. The anticipation is almost unbearable: will you get the shiny new bike you asked for every day for the last month? Or the latest Lego robot you spent hours assembling in a toy store with your Dad?
Anticipating future events tells us we’re alive. That we care. That we know there are good times ahead.
The night before the launch of our annual benchmarking survey I don’t sleep. My heart beats a little faster and my breathing is different. I get excited for three reasons: first, the launch of the new survey heralds the start of a nine month journey for me and my team. A voyage of discovery and anticipation which culminates in us publishing the results to the world. Second, it gives me the opportunity to talk to many organisations about the benefits of benchmarking and understand their perspective on the trends and drivers we see. And third, it gives us a chance to explore how benchmarking can play a role in transforming our industry, as the participants explore how they can better adapt to the fast-changing needs and preferences of their customers.
Let me explore these points in more detail – in reverse order. Let’s face it, benchmarking isn’t the most glamorous pursuit. Collecting data on performance stats and trends isn’t on everyone’s list of top five things they love about their job. But when we start the number crunching and analysis, patterns and trends begin to emerge which transform the banal into the amazing. Discovering when digital interactions overtake voice in the contact centre; charting the downward trends in customer satisfaction; spotting the rise in hybrid technology and cloud solutions; establishing global indices for Net Promoter and Customer Effort Scores – these are exciting, unique, and of interest to thousands of people in our industry.
Next there’s dialogue. I’ve been privileged to talk to hundreds of people each year about the Report’s results and hear back from them how they’re tackling the challenges and opportunities we pinpoint. What’s remarkable about this is the positive and innovative ways people respond. For example, when I shared the news that 40% of companies aren’t confident that their current systems meet current needs and that 80% believe they won’t meet future needs, several organisations explained they were getting around this by sourcing technology direct, and not through their IT departments. This would’ve been unheard of five years ago. Cloud and hosted technologies are revolutionising the way technology is procured, deployed and consumed.
Finally, there’s the journey of production. It takes nine months to complete and publish the results of the survey. The questionnaire is open now. It’s free for any organisation to participate and, last year, over 900 organisations went online to complete the survey – which, by the way, only takes around 30 minutes to complete. The survey remains open until 30 November and can be filled in for as many contact centres as necessary. Several organisations ask each of their facilities to complete the survey so they can do inter-company comparisons. Once we’ve crunched the data and had our experts write the summaries that accompany each of the six chapters, an electronic copy is delivered free of charge to every participant completing the questionnaire. In addition, they get access to the full data set and the ability to undertake their own analysis via an online portal. I’m actually getting excited just writing about all of this. I don’t think I’m going to sleep very well tonight!