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Shoe-Leather Reporting

Shoe-Leather Reporting

/ Current Issue, Operations, Reporting, Strategy
Shoe-Leather Reporting

Write a report worth reading!

Shoe-leather reporting, as defined by freedictionary.com, means collecting, writing, and reporting news stories. It often involves traveling and talking to different people to get all the important facts. Though started in the fifties, it is still used today in both real life and in stories. You might be wondering how shoe-leather reporting relates to Contact Centers and creating reports that people actually read.

For the past 37 years at PowerHouse, we have collaborated with Contact Centers in a way that is very much like shoe-leather reporting. Our entire way of doing things and our success is based on conducting thorough assessments and writing reports that are based on a clear set of objectives. These are supported by just enough data to make it clear that we have done our homework.


The primary purpose of writing an assessment report is to yield easy-to-understand information that makes people want to act. Solid assessments are based on the ability to identify specific challenges and opportunities that help facilitate operational and organizational changes necessary to meet a set of clearly-defined outcomes. How well Contact Centers work impacts the ability of both the Contact Center and the enterprise to meet strategic objectives (e.g., the Customer Experience) that impact every other strategic objective.

There exists a widely-held belief that Contact Center leaders have difficulty creating the kinds of reports that get them what they need. Otherwise, there would be far fewer Centers being understaffed and undervalued, and with undertrained agents.

The primary purpose of writing an assessment report is to yield easy-to-understand information that makes people want to act.

PowerHouse reports are organized by four key organizers:

  • Assessment Objectives – What we want to do
  • Business Drivers – Why we should do it
  • Findings – Description of current conditions
  • Recommendations – Ways/how to fix it

The most challenging activities focus on “findings” and “recommendations.” Each is a distinct section that serves different purposes. (Yet, there is often a fine line between a “finding” and a “recommendation.”) Below are my insights and an illustration example of each.


Findings capture the results of your analysis, observations, and research related to the Contact Center’s organizational and operational conditions. These are the objective facts, data, or insights you have gathered through your assessment.

Findings must be presented in a clear, concise, and organized manner, with “just enough” supporting evidence such as statistics, survey results, or case studies. The appendix is the place to include additional data if needed.

Findings provide a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the Contact Center, including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Illustrative Example of Organizers and Content

  • Strategic objectives are at risk.
    • Current rapid growth demands pose challenges to effectively achieving strategic objectives, putting both Customer and Agent Experience at risk.
    • Surges in growth lead to heightened demand levels and present challenges at all operational levels.
  • Organizational structure is strained.
    • Key management roles are vacant; existing management/staff are overwhelmed by the pace of growth.
  • Operational infrastructure limitations hinder swift contact handling.
    • Inadequate infrastructure poses a threat to scalability, sustainability, and long-term success across eCommerce and existing/new business lines.
    • Issues include complex agent desktops, workflow challenges, inadequate training, process inefficiencies, high turnover, and limited agent assist support.
  • Technical infrastructure has serious limitations related to the efficient and accurate handling of contacts.
    • Limitations are due to a lack of system integration and information architecture. Navigation complexity and the tendency to prioritize needs of internal departments impedes true service to customers.
    • Contact Centers are rarely, if ever, included in technology decisions that impact them directly. Center leaders are not queried for details on technology challenges, needs, and preferences.

The bolded text above serves as the organizing framework for the report. The Findings section encompasses the materials and data that guided the team to compile its list of findings. Charts and graphs are important, with details provided within an appendix.


Recommendations are suggestions or proposed actions based on the findings of the assessment. They are forward-looking and aimed at addressing issues, improving processes, or leveraging opportunities identified in the findings. Recommendations must be specific, actionable, measurable, and prioritized according to their potential impact and feasibility.

Recommendations may include strategies for improving efficiency, enhancing Customer Experience, optimizing staffing levels, implementing new technologies, or restructuring organizational processes and relationships.

Recommendations must be realistic based on the unique needs of the Contact Center, while being mindful of such factors as budget constraints, resource availability, and organizational culture.

Recommendations are suggestions or proposed actions based on the findings of the assessment.

In summary, while findings provide an assessment of the Contact Center’s current state, recommendations offer guidance on how to address identified challenges and capitalize on opportunities to enhance organizational and operational performance.

Illustrative Example of Organizers and Content

  • Strategic Objectives
    • Elevate the Contact Center to strategic asset status.
    • Properly staff, fund, and promote the Contact Center to serve as a centralized enterprise asset poised to support growth and new lines of business and whose “currency” is the information gathered and shared enterprise wide.
    • Establish strategic governance for technology acquisition and deployment with domain expertise represented by a Contact Center leader.
  • Organizational Structure
    • Adopt a new organizational model for the Contact Center.
    • Fill Supervisor, Workforce Management Manager, and Analyst positions; create and follow a roadmap to work on transitioning other shared roles (e.g., Training, Quality) dedicated to managing growth.
    • Educate existing staff to adopt industry standard Workforce Management practices, disciplines, and leadership.
    • Clearly define roles and responsibilities across the entire management team.
  • Operational Infrastructure
    • Hire an experienced Workforce Management Manager and an Analyst to provide clear forecasts and assure growth management and planning.
    • Manage cross-functional relationships; establish standards and timelines for onboarding new programs, services, and custom reports.
    • Suspend the Quality Assurance (QA) program until sufficient staff is allocated to support it.
  • Technical Infrastructure
    • Invest in a “Unified Agent Desktop” application that integrates supporting systems critical to the Customer Experience.


Each finding and recommendation is thoroughly explored within the report and details its impact on the Contact Center’s performance and alignment with strategic goals.

Do not shy away from being direct or even assertive! You do not need to be an external consultant to suggest that your company “elevate the Contact Center to strategic asset status.” This means being heard, understood, and invested in. In our experience, when such an idea has been presented to the executive team, it has been understood and supported wholeheartedly.

A comprehensive assessment typically involves a team, with each member assigned specific tasks such as conducting interviews/focus groups, analyzing data, documenting processes, and collaborating on the report. One team member should act as the project manager and oversee timelines, deadlines, and dependencies.

Finally, do not let excuses like “We’ve never done it before,” “Nobody will care,” or “We don’t have time” deter you from conducting an assessment. Make time, especially if your Contact Center is facing significant challenges. Allow some fires to burn while empowering your team to step up and explore identifying obstacles and contributing to the process of arriving at solutions.

You do not need to be an external consultant to suggest that your company “elevate the Contact Center to strategic asset status.”

The assessment offers an opportunity for developing talent and refining report-writing skills by investing some “shoe leather” in figuring out where the Contact Center is now, where you want to go, and how you are going to get there. The desired outcome in any assessment effort is to secure funding. The report is a huge step forward to acquiring that funding. Think of it as the pitch!

Kathleen Peterson

Kathleen Peterson

Kathleen M. Peterson is the Chief Vision Officer of PowerHouse Consulting, a call center and telecommunications consulting firm.
Twitter: @PowerHouse603

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