COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: April 2007

The new rules of compliance

April 2007
Dave Paulding, regional sales manager, UK & Africa, Interactive Intelligence

Combining performance management and compliance to solve the regulatory puzzle, simplify management and reduce costs.

The word 'compliance' can make any business cringe, especially public companies and contact centres in healthcare, banking, insurance and other regulated industries. And no wonder. Governing agencies seem to issue new regulations every day. Worse is that most of these regulations are ambiguous, and come with little regulatory guidance on how to define them in a clear and consistent manner.
Many companies therefore must interpret guidelines on their own and attempt to manage compliance issues accordingly, which might or might not keep them in good graces with regulators. Or to be safe, they go the consultant route and pay expensive fees upfront to avoid exorbitant fines for non-compliance later.
But trying to decipher and comply with complex guidelines is only one piece of the regulatory puzzle. Adding to the problem for thousands of organisations are disparate data systems, interaction systems and processes that make compliance programmes difficult to manage, and that drive up the already staggering costs of meeting regulatory requirements. Case in point? One compliance vendor recently pointed out that many of the companies they serve now spend as much as 50% of their annual IT budget on addressing regulatory issues.
That is the bad news for many businesses, since compliance will remain a daunting task for the foreseeable future. Yet there is also good news to achieving compliance success.
By taking some practical, straightforward measures to combine compliance processes with performance management - and to converge data systems and interaction systems - regulated companies can gain tighter control of their compliance programmes and reduce programme costs significantly at the same time.
Measuring the similarities
With regards in this case to a contact centre environment and formal as well as informal agents, the aspects of performance management and compliance management are actually quite similar. As we have done in the comparison table here, the first step toward merging the two management processes is to identify the key points of each and gauge how they match up. Every point you associate on both sides of the ledger gives your organisation a stronger framework for implementing a new compliance programme, or for improving an existing one.
Interpret regulations
Once you have determined a programme framework for performance-compliance management, the next step is to designate staff to interpret and understand the regulations your business must comply with. Consultants can help unravel complex regulatory guidelines to start, and can also refine your programme framework as needed, although their service fees can add up quickly if used on a continuous basis.
Remember, too, that the various knowledge levels of agents and associated personnel in a contact centre further lend to regulatory issues. Because contact centres historically have a higher rate of turnover than most businesses, regularly-scheduled training programmes for new and existing employees alike can lead to a more consistent understanding of compliance among all employees.
Integrate compliance-performance programmes
Given the similarities of compliance and performance, and to make both management processes more fail-safe and cost-effective, consider building in process control points along with departmental audit procedures, security and ongoing training programmes to ensure adherence to those control points. Doing so will also make it easier to integrate all performance-compliance processes within your everyday business processes, based on the following programme elements for your staff and the data and interaction systems they use.
Programme elements impacting staff
* Compliance implementation team with direct lines to management to approve all policies.

* Clearly-defined criteria for a successful compliance/performance management programme.

* Clear policies for compliance and performance per department, such as telemarketing, sales, customer service, etc.

* Documented compliance criteria and expectations for agents and supervisors, communicated up-front.

* Documented workflow and control points throughout the compliance process.

* Consistent compliance and performance scripts or response management tools for agents and other affected users, such as business users who serve as informal agents.

* Agent-supervisor training programme for compliance quality and performance issues.

* Departmental auditing programme.
Programme elements impacting systems
* Implement an integrated rules engine that handles all media types to manage inbound as well as outbound customer phone calls, e-mails, Web chats, faxes and other interaction types.

* Capture all interaction media types and associated customer identifiers, both for performance and compliance review.

* Offer realtime tools such as agent scripting, screen pops, etc, to meet compliance and performance criteria.

* Provide response management assistance for all media types, not just phone calls.

* Incorporate security provisions such as encryption to ensure the integrity of archived information.

* Use score card-based agent/user scoring and reports to understand compliance issues from a staffing perspective.

* Update performance/compliance workflows in conjunction with the rules engine on a continuous basis, the ability to respond to updated regulations or interpretations in a timely manner is always critical.
The benefits of combined performance-compliance management
In addition to reducing costs by combining programmes and eliminating the ongoing need for expensive consultants, joint performance-compliance management in the contact centre allows a single team to monitor performance criteria and oversee compliance issues simultaneously. Compliance therefore is built into both the business process and agent performance review, along with consequences.
Advanced event-by-event monitoring, tracking and scoring features such as those in the CIC contact centre application suite rules engine also reduce non-compliance incidents, leading to hard dollar cost savings form improved compliance tracking and auditing results, and due to associated savings over disconnected data and interaction systems.
Dave Paulding, regional sales manager, UK & Africa, Interactive Intelligence
Dave Paulding, regional sales manager, UK & Africa, Interactive Intelligence
For more information contact Dave Paulding, regional sales manager, Uk & Africa, Interactive Intelligence, +44 20 8867 3676, dave.paulding@inin.com


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