How to Use Big Data to Improve Your Customer Service


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The particulars of customer service are a lot more complicated than they used to be. Whereas in the past customer service primarily involved face-to-face or phone interactions, customer service now includes Internet-based interactions that frequently don’t involve any human-to-human interaction at all.

It seems counterintuitive, but the increasingly automated customer service experience is giving service providers more insight regarding their respective programs than ever before. Despite the lack of facetime with a person, companies are now able to tabulate and analyze thousands of data points from information collected in each transaction. Here’s how you can use big data to improve your customer service.

Figure Out Your Target Audience

Big Data has evolved a lot over recent years. In the past, a company’s data concerning client interactions were primarily based on observation and person-to-person communication. This worked to an extent, but this type of data was difficult to aggregate – making it hard to see the bigger picture. Now, because of the thousands of data points that companies can examine about each customer, a company can use trends that might otherwise go unnoticed to better understand and segment their customer base.

For example, big data trends concerning the shopping habits of millennials as opposed to Baby Boomers have allowed companies to figure out what attracts each group to a product. Even though the product is the same, companies have figured out that what attracts one subgroup might not attract the others. Accordingly, they can use these revelations to cater towards the specific needs of each subgroup, maximizing the number of potential customers.

Understand the Entire Customer Journey

In addition to maximizing your target audience, big data can allow a company to understand the entire customer journey. In the past, most service providers were limited to the immediate client interaction. Now, companies can utilize big data to see not only customer behavior and trends concerning the immediate transaction, but also all of the events leading up to and following the interaction.

For example, data gleaned from Internet transactions allow companies to see which websites their clients visited prior to the transaction, as well as what links they clicked on immediately after the transaction. Did your customer purchase something from you, but then shop somewhere else because you didn’t have everything they needed? Big data has the answer. There are several great tools and dashboards that can help you interpret this type of data and implement your findings into your own business plan.

Know Customer Needs Before They Ask

If you’ve ever asked a client about their needs, you’ve probably discovered that more often than not, clients are not completely aware of everything they need. However, despite their own lack of awareness, they still expect that a good customer service experience will cover all aspects of the transaction.

In the past, this could be a pretty daunting task. Now, with big data, companies have unprecedented amounts of information that, through proper utilization, should allow a company to determine customer needs before ever interacting with a customer.

For instance, if you are selling device “x” and you see from your data that every other person who has purchased device “x” eventually needed accessory “y” as well, you now know that the customer is most likely going to need accessory “y” in the near future. This insight will allow you to not only offer accessory “y” from the start, but also to better predict when and how much accessory “y” inventory you’re going to need. This is a great way to demonstrate superior customer service because from the client’s perspective, you care enough about that client to cater to their personal experience.

Improve Internal Processes

One last aspect of customer service that big data can help with actually doesn’t involve any customer interaction at all. In order to provide quality and thorough service when facing the client, you need to make sure that your internal structure and processes are thorough and efficient.

When you’re not interacting with clients directly, you need to coach and train your employees to be the best that they can be. Data, such as information from customer surveys and feedback, can allow a company to see which internal aspects are working and which are not. For instance, you might have one employee that customers love working with for a variety of reasons that can now be recorded and standardized to help you train your other staff.

In addition to coaching your associates, quality customer service requires constant adjustment and fine-tuning of your overall services. Big data will help you uncover processes and strategies that are unnecessary or redundant, or even strategies that might be hampering your efforts rather than helping.

Big data is a powerful tool when perfecting your business’s customer service offerings. From gathering data to analyzing it and implementing your findings, big data will provide your company with an advantage when it comes to serving your clients.

AJ Agrawal
I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify


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