Using Interaction Analytics To Turn The Call Centre Into A Strategic Asset

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Interaction Analytics offers the visionary Customer Service leader a great opportunity to increase his or her operation’s internal value.

The idea is this.

The abundance of customer insights from Interaction Analytics can be packaged into information services and offered to other functions, thus influencing many key functional decisions. Over time, Customer Services becomes a customer intelligence hub to the rest of the organisation.

Let’s assume Maria is such a visionary. She wants to vault her Customer Service department to the forefront of her organisation and help her executives maximise the intelligence contained within the customer interactions so that they’re armed with the right info to make strategic decisions.

Where does she start?

First Things First. How Well Regarded Is Customer Services As A Function?

She needs to start with present realities. The perceived strategic value of most Customer Service operations is low. Any connection between the strategic aim of being a customer centric organisation and the operational realities of every day Customer Service is weak in many executive minds.

To be fair, the importance of great customer service is a constant drumbeat from the market and is difficult to ignore. The transparency of social customer service and the drive to compete on customer experience adds to the consensus that Customer Service matters.

Maria needs to test internal perceptions of the call centre’s value in its current role. A simple way to do so is to ‘follow the money’. She might use the following slice of research to build her argument.

This global benchmark for the communications market illustrates the point.

  • $500 billion a year is spent on Marketing and Advertising
  • $50 billion on CRM
  • $9 billion on Customer Service

Source: Adobe Digital Index 2012

Yet despite the weighted investment towards Marketing, what do the authors of this study conclude?

“If online retailers invested in keeping another 10% of their existing customers happy enough to keep buying, they would double their revenue.”.

This offers great validation for making greater investment into Customer Service as a key driver of commercial outcomes.

Tired Of The Blame Game, Yet?

The second point Maria realizes is this. Who is normally held accountable for customer satisfaction? Whether right or wrong, it has been human nature to blame the bringer of bad news. And Customer Service is the place where this news traditionally first lands.

Of course she knows that her organisation should respond to, and use this knowledge for competitive advantage. But this is her challenge. How can she make this happen? If only Customer Service was seen as an early warning system for issues that originate elsewhere.

Her proof of course will be how fast ownership of issues is accepted by the functional areas able to bring about change. Again this is often not as it should be. A lack of clear proof points has allowed other functions to rebuff her efforts to gain a commitment to act.

Somehow the clarity of feedback given in a team meeting from advisors hearing the same issues over and over from irate customers does not translate into such a strong argument during an executive meeting.

“What’s your evidence?”

“My advisors are telling me.”

“That’s not enough proof to change how we work. Come back when can show me the size of the problem.”

Even with six sigma skills to pull on and quantify the opportunity, Customer Service leaders still face an uphill task in sourcing the data to prove the trend. Maria knows getting out of the blame game is important. But how does she do it?

Customer Service leaders are confined in their ability to truly maximise the asset they manage. They are condemned to keep apologising when they should be in a position to fix things and move on. Too much time is spent “fixing agents” when “fixing the company” is the real culprit.

Become A Corporate Service

I started out this post claiming that Interaction Analytics can transform a Customer Service operation into a strategic asset for an organisation. To be clear, that does not happen just by owning and using an Interaction Analytics solution.

Maria recognizes that she needs to aim higher than just running an efficient Customer Service operation. The greater goal is about delivering much more value across the organization.; thus gaining more influence.

Her reasons for even considering this level of ambition are simple. What percentage of opportunity to improve and innovate is within the ‘gift’ of her customer service operation ?

Yes, there are all the usual examples such as:

  • The quality of human interaction
  • The length and outcome of an interaction
  • The opening hours and availability of live help

These types are within the control of her leadership team.

However with Interaction Analytics fully up and running she is now able to deliver empirical data to understand the root cause of issues that originate elsewhere such as:

  • Interactions caused by broken customer journeys that flow across departmental silos
  • Inbound interactions caused by poorly designed ecommerce sites
  • Policies dreamt up to satisfy internal priorities that cause customer upset
  • Products and services that simply fail to meet expectations

Few would deny that fixing these makes sense. But the ability to spot them in time and be able to quantify their impact remains a blind spot. If Maria is smart she will use that capability to help her colleagues run better operations by offering information

In the not too distant future, Customer Services could be meeting that internal need. Assuming of course you are lucky enough to be, or know, a Maria.

Take Away Insight

Creative packaging of Interaction Analytic output can put the call centre into the heart of enterprise management. The data is there. Use it.

With the wealth of customer intelligence that can be extracted through customer analytics, executives are more informed than ever before of their company products and services. All customer services should aspire to strategic status, according to Jon Ezrine, who outlines his “Big Five Steps to Success” on how customer insight can benefit any business.

Watch Jon’s speech from the 2012 Call Centre & Customer Management Expo here. 

Categories: Intro to Interaction Analytics