Companies today are looking for a more consistent, real-time and clear view of their customers in order to stay competitive in today’s hyper-connected economy -- from who their customers are, to what they need, to how they feel at any given time, and even what they might want or do in the future. Enterprises now have the potential to create this view.
The rapid adoption and application of mobile and social channels is enabling customers to drive interactions with brands through a growing number of touch points that contain valuable data about the customer. Companies often struggle with connecting the dots and using this data in order to make it useful and actionable for the business.
In a global survey of executive managers and analysts, the IBM (News - Alert) Institute for Business Value Executive Report, the primary driver for analytics are customer-centric objectives such as customer experience improvement and creating a complete picture of customers’ preferences and demands. And the best place to for organizations to locate useful customer insights is the contact center.
Today’s contact center has become the new center of the customer experience. Most of the time, it is the function within the enterprise that controls the closest interactions a brand has with customers. The contact center is charged with collecting data from customer interactions across multiple channels and documenting critical information that can help the enterprise to improve business processes and outcomes in customer care and beyond. This can mean modifying a function in the finance department, identifying a new R&D initiative, or finding new product development opportunities.
Here are a few ideas that can get companies can begin started analyzing, collecting and acting on customer data:
Know the Value of Each Piece
Every channel a customer uses to interact with a brand plays an important and unique role in knowing that person’s needs in addition to understanding how to serve them better both today and in the future. Incorporate analytics from all channels and sources to create a complete picture of your customer and gain better knowledge on how to serve them.
- The ability to track and mine customer conversations on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) will only grow in importance in the coming years.
- Many companies only focus on structured platforms and neglect of ignore data and conversations on uncontrolled social sources like discussions boards and online forums.
- Categorizing e-mail communications with customers allows organizations to prioritize requests and ensure the most critical issues are being addressed in an efficient and timely manner.
- Collecting all real-time conversations customer contact agents have through chat helps to categorize the intent of conversation for inclusion in customer profiles.
- There are distinctions in voice that can reveal critical insights more so than any other channel. Track caller intentions for issues management and monitor customer tone to flag at-risk individuals for increased attention to prevent losing customers.
Bring the Data Together
Collecting data from an increasing number of customer touch points is just the beginning. Bringing disparate data together into a form that is manageable and easily actionable is vital to put the information to work. But this is easier said than done. According to a Forrester survey commissioned by Aspect (News - Alert), about half of customer service strategy decision-makers said they struggle with data and that creating a single view of customer data and information is one of their biggest challenges.
Companies need to determine how the data is shared with various departments or experts to move beyond the collection process and make the large volume of data accessible and useful. The enterprise can then create clear internal processes that standardize the information sharing and allow each piece of customer feedback to be filtered back into the organization appropriately. Businesses that approach disparate interactions as a new opportunity and apply analytics in this way, better position themselves to deliver the enhanced customer experiences that consumers demand.
It’s all About Application
To complete the process, companies need to apply the learnings from customer analytics into internal decision-making. Managers can take several actions within the contact center environment based on customer interaction data analysis such as better call routing, improved supervisor-agent coaching, enhanced just-in-time training, staffing adjustments and tapping subject-matter experts. But this doesn’t stop at the contact center. With a shared approach to this valuable data source, an organization can apply customer knowledge across enterprise functions – marketing, sales, product development and strategy – can take advantage of customer know how.
Companies can gain deeper understanding of their customers and ultimately deliver enhanced, differentiated customer experiences that keep today’s customers loyal and garner new customers down the road by applying analytics. The contact center is the only aspect of the enterprise that is at the core of orchestrating the data secured through the growing number of touch points to the right people and process. Analytics is to the enterprise what a wand is to a maestro, the key to a better and smarter business.
Spence Mallder is CTO and senior vice president of the workforce optimization division at Aspect Software (www.aspect.com).
Edited by Stefania Viscusi