How an Interaction Analytics Team is Like a Pro Golfer’s Entourage


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Like many golf fans, I was glued to the end of the broadcast of the 142nd Open Championship in Muirfield, where Phil Mickelson won his first Claret Jug. In an interview after the round, I listened to Phil talk about Jim “Bones” Mackay, his caddy, and the significant influence Bones had on Phil’s winning. He also talked about his team –people like Butch Harmon, his coach, and Steve Loy, his manager. I’m sure there are also personal assistants, travel bookers, etc. It got me thinking, a golfer is actually like a mini-business. His caddy is his trusted partner, or, if you’re thinking about it in terms of interaction analytics, his vendor. His inner circle is more like the internal resources a business might need to make sure the project runs optimally, while the golfer and the caddy focus on the big picture. The internal team gets the details done, conveys the crucial information to the main players when necessary, and knows the things that are specific to the company, or golfer, as the case may be.

But how many people are in this inner circle? The answer, like in the business of interaction analytics, is surprisingly few. There are only a half-dozen people in Phil’s’ support team/inner circle, arguably, the most important of which is Bones.

So What is the Player/Caddy Relationship?

Like a good services team, in Muirfield, Bones was there to think, pay attention to things that have snuck up on Phil before (think United States Open in 2006), keep Phil focused on winning the tournament (not the gallery) and finally, pace Phil’s thoughts. If Phil is successful, Bones is successful –not the other way around. Phil was simply there to do what he does, play great golf.

I started thinking of parallels to my clients. All clients are focused on winning -being better than their competition. To be a great business leader, one has to pay attention to trends, watch how others are succeeding, be a part of strategic decision making and adjust to things that are or aren’t working. Parallel that with a caddy: watching the wind, knowing a player’s “go to” shot, and selecting a club and committing your player to it. A good consultant is the most trusted advisor, whose reputation rests solely on the success of his or her player. But even the caddy benefits from the golfer having an inner circle. It’s to his advantage that the golfer arrives in time to get in a few practice rounds, that his sponsorships and registrations are managed and someone is there to offer coaching advice when his swing needs correction.

Who, Other than Bones, is on the Support Team?

The past few weeks my colleague, Mike Hutchison, has offered some great advice on selecting vendors and the characteristics that vendor’s services team should have to make your interaction analytics work successfully and deliver a solid return on investment. But in my work with customers and potential customers, I’m often asked about the type of internal resources a company should plan to devote (a Phil inner circle of sorts). Some are worried it’s going to be too burdensome on an already stretched thin pool of personnel, others just aren’t sure the right roles or way to organize the hierarchy, but most want to make sure they will have people with the right skill sets to augment the vendor’s team and maximize their investment.

It’s a common myth that all interaction or speech analytics projects require heavy lifting from the customer’s side. The fact is, the average hosted project requires anywhere from 1.25-3.5 full-time employees depending on the size of the organization and project. The chart below illustrates the breakdown of roles and time needed from each.


Considering the relatively low expenditure of internal resources and the “bang for your buck” that you’ll receive from them in terms of the additional customization of projects, more tailored alignment to corporate goals, and the ability to convert the execution of interaction analytics “on the course” into money in the bank, clients need both – a great managed analytic services team, or caddy, paired with a great inner circle.

Defining the Roles

So how exactly do the internal roles shape up? Teams always need an executive leader, the payer of sorts; someone who will be a champion for interaction analytics and whose career rests on the ability to maneuver projects throughout the organization. This role is crucial for getting buy-in from the rest of the company and making sure that the results that both the internal and external resources generate have the corporate support needed to be executed upon.

Additionally, you need time devoted from project managers. They will work with the vendor’s services team to help shape the direction of analytic projects, determine if results are aligning with corporate objectives and help set expectations. They are also essential in making sure that the findings are translated into action plans so that the work being done doesn’t remain in the theoretical, but becomes actual improvements that are made to the contact center and organization as a whole. Interaction analytics project managers would be similar in skill set to any project managers, but should fully understand what the technology is capable of, should have the ability to translate analytics findings into appropriate business cases, and should have a network of peers within the company in order to see projects move from results to action.

Finally, you need analysts and those dedicated to data retrieval. These people should have the ability to think in data terms, and they should be able to ask and then retrieve data from the necessary sources to prove or disprove the various hypotheses that they are given. They should be able to work with the technology and generate meaningful results. Though your vendor’s team will play a large role in this, you will always have internal requests from people who have an emergency project or want immediate insight into a problem. Having the in-house knowledge to address those will prove invaluable.


So, how many people does it take to construct a professional golfer’s enterprise? A player, a caddy, and a great team, all of who are focused on using every competitive advantage, and through execution, separate themselves from their peers to achieve financial and professional success.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ryan Pellet
Ryan is SVP at Nexidia - the leader in interaction analytics. He responsible for leading Nexidia's Strategy and Services where he creates customer strategies for the Fortune 100. He is: a recognized expert in using behavioral / business analytics, author, keynote. Prior, Pellet was a VP at Convergys. There, he led both the Center for Applied Customer Analytics, and Global Consulting – using CVG's 2 billion+ customer interactions. A serial entrepreneur, Ryan founded the Finali Group, which was acquired by Convergys. He also was an executive/founding contributor to Accenture's CRM Practice.


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