Workforce Optimization Featured Article

The Data is There for Contact Centers That Know Where to Look

December 23, 2013

By Mae Kowalke,
TMCnet Contributor

You might call it a mess.

Contact centers generate a lot of data, almost the definition of big data. But much of this data is not used, or is underutilized, a new study by The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) suggests.

The big missed opportunity is improving the customer experience.

While roughly 67 percent of business executives in a recent ICMI survey reported that their contact centers use collected data to improve agent performance, only 48 percent use this data to improve customer satisfaction.

Even more striking, 36 percent admitted they do not focus on improving customer satisfaction at all.

This constitutes a lot of low-hanging fruit for most contact centers, since roughly 60 percent of centers don’t proactively give their agents customer information—an obvious way to boost customer care.

For most contact centers, agents need to navigate multiple screens to find customer information, the study found; roughly 70 percent of those surveyed said reps need to browse among multiple screens to find info, and 41 percent of agents are still manually entering customer information.

Not only are contact centers not fully utilizing their data, but nearly half collect data that is not used at all; the study found that 48 percent of contact centers consistently collect metrics that are not used.

"It's not about how much data you have," said Sarah Stealey Reed, content director for ICMI. "It's about the insight you gain from the data that truly matters. When you use contact center data as a solution, rather than an output, you'll find ways to make improvements at each step of the customer journey.”

She added: "In today's hyper-connected world, customers expect to have relevant and personal conversations through their channel of choice. Contact centers must know how to use customer and agent analytics to anticipate needs and short-circuit problems. If they understand what data are important, businesses can provide a much better multichannel experience.”

This is both a waste and an opportunity. While most contact centers look for ways to constantly improve operations, they are ignoring some of the easiest ways to drive this improvement.

The trick is not collecting more information, but using the information that already exists. This can only be done when the contact center is more than just part of the cost of doing business. The perception of the contact center needs to change, with it being recognized as the center of the ongoing process of better understanding what the customer wants.

Only with this focus will there be the initiative to invest in and leverage systems that fully use the data collected. There’s a lot of opportunity for executives who know where to find it. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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