Why Customers Communicate: Unraveling Marketing’s Greatest Mystery

Always with phone

A Question for the Ages

Marketing is one of the most dynamic areas of your business.  There’s always a new trend, a new technique, a new way to connect with your customers and deliver information.  The proof?  I’m writing a blog for a B2B company and uploading it from a mobile device. You’re probably reading it from a tablet and it’s likely you found this blog through a social media outlet.  A few years ago none of that would have happened.  But as the saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) face the same challenges today that they have for as long as marketing has been around.  They still struggle to answer fundamental questions about whether the message they send to the marketplace connects with their current and potential customers, the impact of their competitors’ message, and whether dollars spent on a campaign delivered the appropriate return.  However, the single greatest question that any CMO strives to answer is this:  “Why do customers contact my company?”  Unlocking this mystery tells you if they’re happy with their purchase, upset with the service they received, confused by your message, likely to be a loyal customer, ready to cancel and switch to a rival or nearly any other detail you need to improve the customer experience and your bottom line.  This age old question haunts us all – it’s the holy grail of marketing if you will.  What’s changed is how we go about answering it.

Looking for Answers

So what are our options?  You can conduct post-call surveys or trace an IVR path to determine what the customer was trying to achieve.  You can rely on agent call documentation and their manual call categorization.  But often times these results are inaccurate, incomplete, and untimely.  The amount of time it takes to gather and decipher this data could have been better spent taking corrective action if clear, actionable information was given.  For example, a health insurance company knew that the Affordable Care Act was going to cause disruptions in the marketplace.  They wanted to minimize confusion by creating marketing collateral to help their members understand the effects this legislation may have on them.  But despite the health insurance company’s best efforts, they still had customers calling into the contact center confused about their claims and benefits.  They wanted to understand why, but also needed to minimize administrative costs, so their options for uncovering the information were limited.  Stay tuned for how they solved this challenge…

Interaction Analytics:  A CMO’s Ace in the Hole

My personal preference is to hear why customers or prospects contact my company, directly from the source — without the filter of a sales person, or in the case of a call center, an agent, or having to rely on a third party to gather the information for me.  And I think most CMOs would agree.  That’s where today’s CMOs have the advantage.  Interaction Analytics gives companies the ability to extract the information contained in the interactions coming into the contact center.  Call drivers can be empirically quantified and trended, and root cause analysis allows marketing to trace interactions back to specific activities.  Remember that health insurance company?  They applied Interaction Analytics to calls that came in after the collateral was sent.  They were quickly able to isolate calls where confusion was the call driver.  Then through deeper analysis they determined that the collateral marketing thought was easy to understand actually contained industry jargon that customers didn’t ‘get’.  Also, the website they hoped customers would use to self-serve wasn’t as easy to navigate as it could be, so that drove calls as well.  Armed with this information, the health insurance company made adjustments that led to a better customer experience.  And they did it without increasing administrative costs that would have come from requiring agents to further document calls.

Finding the Missing Puzzle Piece

The health insurance company was able to achieve this result by using the information that customers said during their actual interactions with agents and applying the right technology to make that information accessible.  It was a major coup for the company and a great example of how marketing can leverage contact center data to better understand their impact on the customer.  Interaction Analytics gives CMOs the missing piece of the puzzle.  They can stop asking ‘why’ and start saying “I know the reasons customers are contacting us, and here is our course of action.”

[Photo: "Puzzle2" by Willi Heidelbach via Flickr]
Categories: Intro to Interaction Analytics