To stay competitive and smart in today’s interconnected economy, enterprises are striving for a more consistent, real-time and clear view of their customers—from who they are, to what they need, to how they feel, and to what they could do or ask for next. And more so than ever before, companies have the potential to create this view.
The popularity of mobile and social channels is allowing customers to drive interactions with brands through an expanding number of touch points, each of which contains valuable data about the customer. While many companies are sitting on a gold mine of useful customer data, they often struggle with where to begin mining for the information and connecting the dots to make it useful and actionable for the business.
According to the IBM Institute for Business Value Executive Report, a global survey of executive managers and analysts, the number one objective for analytics are customer-centric objectives (50 percent) like improving the customer experience and the ability to create a complete picture of customers’ preferences and demands. This points to a clear starting point for organizations seeking to find the sources of useful customer insight—the contact center.
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The contact center has become the new center of the customer experience. More often than not it is the function within the enterprise that controls the closest interactions a brand has with customers. It is tasked with collecting data from interactions with customers across multiple channels, exchanging and documenting critical information that can help the enterprise to improve business processes and outcomes in customer care and beyond – from modifying a function in the finance department, to directing a new focus for R&D, to expanding offerings in product development.
With the contact center as a starting point, collecting, analyzing and acting on customer data is much like being a maestro of 100+ piece orchestra. Here are a few notes that can get businesses started:
Understanding the importance of each piece
Just as each instrument in an symphony plays a critical part in achieving the overall harmonious sound that compels a crowd to applaud for more, each communication channel a customer uses to interact with a brand plays a vital and distinct role in understanding that individual’s needs and how to better serve them today and in the future. Incorporate analytics from all channels and sources in order to provide a full picture of your customer and gain a better understanding of how to serve them.
- Social – From Facebook posts to Twitter conversations, the ability to track and mine customer conversations on social media platforms will only grow in importance in the coming years.
- Uncontrolled – All too often organizations focus on structured platforms and lose sight of the data and conversations on “uncontrolled” communication platforms like discussions boards and online forums.
- Email – Categorizing email interactions with customers allows the enterprise to prioritize requests and ensure the most critical issues are being addressed in an efficient and timely manner.
- Chat – Capturing all real-time conversations customer contact agents have with customers via chat helps to document intent of conversation for inclusion in customer profiles.
- Voice – More so than any other channel, there are nuances in voice that can unlock critical insights. Track caller intentions for issues management and monitor customer tone to flag at-risk individuals for increased attention in order to prevent losing customers.
Playing from the same score
Collecting data from the growing number of customer touch points is just a starting point. Bringing disparate data together into something that is digestible and easily actionable is much like bringing sounds together to create a musical piece. And, this can be a sticking point for brands. According to a Forrester survey commissioned by Aspect Software, 51 percent of customer service strategy decision-makers stated they struggle with data and that creating a single view of customer data and information is one of their biggest challenges.
To move beyond the collection process to making the large volume of data accessible and useful to the enterprise, companies need to evaluate how the data is shared with various departments or experts. The enterprise can then institute clear internal processes that formalize 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.
Achieving the perfect harmony
Businesses need to apply the learnings from customer analytics into internal decision-making. For example, within the contact center environment, managers can take several actions based on analyzing customer interaction data, from better call routing, improved supervisor-agent coaching, enhanced just-in-time training, staffing adjustments and tapping subject-matter experts (SME). 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. By using the notes of insights within actual customer interactions, an enterprise creates a symphony of knowledge that yields true customer intimacy.
Applying analytics is a proven way a company can gain a deeper understanding of its customers and ultimately deliver enhanced, differentiated customer experiences that keep today’s customers loyal and garners new customers down the road. 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.