Operations: Two industry veterans share their insights on using Benchmarks & Best Practices
Kislik: The real question, I think, is to know why you want to do a comparison in the first place. What are you going to use it for? In some cases, it may be better to compare dissimilar companies. This is especially important for companies that have been doing the same things in the same ways for many years and are mired in their own processes. They may be better off wanting to know what’s possible, rather than what’s the average.
Barry: That leads me back to my contention that best practices may be more valuable than individual pieces of data. Benchmarking will point to a specific function or area to review for improvement. But detailed analysis of process and implementation of best practices is how you effect change.
Kislik: Plus, the averages actually could denote some terrible number for, say, performance levels. Say a study finds some average on customer service, and you’re doing better than that, well, that’s great. In that case, it doesn’t really matter what everyone else is doing, because you’re doing well.
Or say that the average contact center turnover is 65 percent. I’m just making up a number here. And your turnover is 50 percent. You could say, “Wow! I’m doing well.” But what if those 50 percent of your staffers are leaving because you have a terrible manager, and in a few months some of those who left file lawsuits against you? Still think your lower-than-average turnover rate is commendable?
Barry: The Internet is radically changing these benchmarks, so that has to be taken into consideration here, too. Say you have two companies with AOV of $100 and two-line orders, for a $100 million a year business. But one company gets 10 percent of orders via the Net, and the other gets 50 percent via the Net. Most of the ratios will be radically different, including cost per order, cost per contact, call-to-order ratio, etc.