Contact Centers: Are You Drowning in Data?

Companies are increasingly faced with the challenge of how to leverage the large amounts of data available in the contact center. The data is accumulated through customer management systems — CRM, SFA (sales force automation), ERP (enterprise resource planning) and order fulfillment — and interactions with the customer (customer data, issues and transactions).

Even though providing consistent, accurate and timely data across all channels is critical to enhancing the customer experience, the process of collecting, analyzing, managing and disseminating this data can be a daunting task.

Aberdeen surveyed more than 200 companies and found that the Best-in-Class (BIC) companies are able to increase customer satisfaction and address competitive pressures by implementing a plan defined as an “intelligent contact center” strategy.

An intelligent contact center provides precise and suitable information in response to customer inquiries. Data is provided via the medium of choice of the customer.

Aberdeen uses three criteria to identify BIC companies. These key performance indicators are: customer satisfaction (97 percent improvement), cost per contact (79 percent improvement) and first contact closure rate (59 percent improvement).

Pressure to Change

Market pressures and improving customer service have long been key components of contact center strategies. BIC companies identify the need to remain competitive as the top driver that organizations should consider when implementing an intelligent contact center. The need to improve first contact closure rate is highlighted by companies as the second driver.

The Aberdeen research shows that BIC firms share several common characteristics. Firms that have common support processes across channels improve the customer experience by ensuring the interaction is similar regardless of how the customer interacts with the contact center.

Sixty-five percent of BIC companies standardize customer support processes across all channels. The world of the contact center is ever-changing. Agents are in constant need of information surrounding products, processes and customers.

BIC firms have implemented coaching and training to address this. Furthermore, customers need data. They need it fast and the need it accurate. Sixty-eight percent of BIC companies provide online search capabilities for customer data.

Aberdeen also finds in key call center metrics that companies exhibiting BIC characteristics have systems in place to help them achieve better performance than companies with laggard characteristics.

For instance, 20 percent of laggards report that their cost per contact has gotten worse over the past two years, a percentage that is significantly higher than the 3 percent of BIC companies reporting the same trend. Furthermore, 53 percent of laggards report no change in the key metric of customer satisfaction over the past two years, a finding that highlights the need for laggards to implement business strategies that will allow them to make progress over key metrics.

Suggested Next Steps

In order to address customer satisfaction issues, companies deploy intelligent contact center solutions. These solutions provide the necessary capabilities to respond to customer inquiries in a reliable, accurate and well-timed manner.

In order to achieve BIC performance within the intelligent contact center, companies must first implement knowledge management solutions to enable agents and customers to accurately retrieve answers to customer support issues and product inquiries at the appropriate time.

They also need to provide online search capabilities for customer and product data. BIC companies need to look closely at the data they manage. By implementing business intelligence/analytics tools, BIC companies are able to measure the impact of an intelligent contact center on customer satisfaction, first call resolution and cost per contact.

BIC companies realize that in addition to setting up an intelligent contact center, they must also provide other channels of support, such as Web self-service and e-mail, to allow customers to obtain answers to their questions in their channel of choice. This is the key to enhancing the overall customer experience.

The Aberdeen report, “The Intelligent Contact Center: Increasing Multi-Channel Visibility,” is available for free on the Aberdeen Web site.

Alan Hubbard is senior vice president and research director for the Aberdeen Group, where he is responsible for customer service and support practice. Currently, his team’s research agenda focuses on the contact center, help desk and service areas. He can be reached at [email protected].

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