How Big Data & Analytics Save the Day.
No one starts their day thinking, “I want to spend 30-60 minutes, or even longer, on the telephone waiting to reach a contact center agent.” However, a study from the analytics firm, Marchex, estimates that Americans spend 900 million hours per year on hold. The average person will have spent approximately 43 days on hold over the course of their lifetime.1
Are contact centers really to blame, or are these issues related to the changes in which people communicate? Let’s take a deeper look into these problems and learn how analytics and big data can help us better understand the inner workings of today’s contact centers. We’ll also explore a few solutions available in the marketplace.
First, we need to understand the communication changes occurring around the globe. According to a Deloitte report, “Less voice, more options.” Voice is expected to remain the prominent channel for customer interaction but will likely fall from today’s 64 percent to 47 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, chat and messaging are expected to grow from 6 percent to 16 percent, and video will account for 8 percent of their interactions by 2019.”2
A Shift in Thinking
In addition to the rapidly changing technology, a shift in thinking has occurred. This shift has been a direct response to poor customer experiences, such as long hold times, being transferred multiple times, failing to get an adequate resolution and the list goes on. With over 90 percent2 of contact centers responding to these issues, they now plan to improve customer experience as a strategic focus rather than centering on revenue.
With the latest technological advances and recent studies conducted by Marchex, Deloitte, it’s clear that contact centers are on a revolutionary track for incredible growth over the next few years. So, the next question becomes,
“How do we gather and use contact center data to deliver the best customer service to users on diverse types of platforms?”
A wealth of data, but what to do with it?
With a laser-like focus on customer experience, contact centers must find unique ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and measure performance against customer satisfaction. This puts data and analytics at the forefront of this trend.
A few examples of data collection types include:
- Monitoring agent-caller interactions
- Use of speech recognition software
- Use of transcription technologies
- Conducting keyword spotting
- Use of automated NPS (Net Promoter Score)
Advances in data collection, data analysis, and artificial intelligence (AI) can potentially provide a better customer experience as well as valuable business information for executives. We’ve all heard the familiar statement, “Your call may be recorded for training and quality purposes.” The traditional data collection methods may have discovered a few key areas of improvement; however, today’s technology far surpasses the good old days. Contact centers receive thousands of calls daily. The information gathered is priceless yet extracting the critical data points and turning those into practical pieces of information for agents is even more valuable.
Does data drive your decision-making?
According to the Contact Center experts at 8×8, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and you can’t make good business decisions when you’re “flying blind.” Virtual Office analytics tools can show you what you need to know about how your teams are communicating, collaborating and performing—and how well your communications network is functioning.”3
Unfortunately, most Contact Center Managers are busy putting out day-to-day fires, concerned with staffing issues and trying to maintain favorable customer satisfaction rankings. These issues can override their ability to use contact center analytics to answer any of the following questions3:
- Are we missing customer calls—and losing business we don’t even know about?
- Are we staffing to meet demand?
- Are all of our salespeople following up on their leads?
- Should we reroute our calls?
- Are we getting the communications quality and reliability we expect?
- How many calls were abandoned or went to voicemail?
- How long are customers waiting on hold?
Businesses have incorporated data and analytics tools across multiple departments serving a variety of functions. This provides executives access to valuable data from which to make well-informed business decisions. Through certain unified communication tools, executives may be able to analyze the data to improve process efficiency, staffing issues and employee performance, among other data points.
How Big Data and Analytics Save The Day!
According to research from Research and Markets, the global CRM analytics market, which includes Contact Center analytics, is expected to grow from $4.18 billion in 2014 to $7.65 billion by 2019. 4
What does this mean? It means that the analytics market has the power to drive change—and fast!
“As more and more enterprises migrate their communications infrastructure to the cloud, demand for these tools and other adjunct capabilities that support strategic business initiatives and growth will become increasingly important,” says Elka Popova, North American Program Director, Unified Communications & Collaboration Information and Communication Technologies at Frost & Sullivan.
For big data and analytics to be effective, key performance indicators (KPIs) need to be established. Metrics are a way to analyze the vast amounts of data coming into contact centers on a daily basis. Managers must stay focused on the right metrics such as creating a “Balanced Scorecard”, which according to a Forrester report, “defines nearly 40 operational metrics for tracking contact center KPIs to help focus on the ones that will move the needle.”5
How can we help Contact Center Managers move the needle?
We can do this through metrics. Below are 7 primary contact center metrics6 that can help managers make better decisions about call times, efficiency, employee performance, and customer satisfaction.
7 Primary Contact Center Metrics:
- Service level: The percentage of calls answered within a predetermined number of seconds.
- Response time: The average time it takes to respond to a customer call.
- Abandonment rate: The number of callers that hang up before they connect to an agent.
- Average handle time: The average amount of time spent on each call, including administrative duties associated with the call.
- First-call resolution: The ability to resolve the query or concern on a customer’s call.
- Customer satisfaction: Customer’s measure of a contact center’s performance.
- Quality monitoring scores: The observation of live or listening to recorded calls by evaluators for the purpose of rating effectiveness.
Do You Have the Right Tools? Better Check.
The right data and analytics tools help business leaders spot trends over time, assess their network, find gaps or areas for improvement and determine the overall health of their communications system. It can also empower an organization’s IT, team, to manage the user experience through call traffic trends, individual end-point device usage, service quality as well as narrow down low performance due to LAN, network, or device usage.
How does your current contact center tool stack up?
Don’t get stuck with an expensive solution that doesn’t meet your needs or won’t keep up with tomorrow’s growth. Choosing the right analytics tool is the key to unlocking your contact center’s potential.
6 questions to ask when evaluating an analytics tool7:
- Contact Center Analytics – Are you able to gain continuous insights into agent performance and contact center operations?
- Quality Management – Are you able to resolve agent performance issues and speed up agent onboarding with targeted coaching and training?
- Workforce Management – Will you be able to boost contact center efficiency with powerful scheduling, forecasting, and reporting?
- Agent Console – Are you able to empower agents to easily manage their customer interactions?
- Agent Supervisor Tools – Are you able to oversee every important metric in your contact center?
- CRM Integration – Are you able to put customer information at the agent’s fingertips?
Dashboards for Instant Insights
The role of data and analytics in the call center environment is to provide intuitive insights and pinpoint areas in need of a contact center manager’s focus. Graphical displays provide some of the data many managers need to do any of the following8:
- Big Picture Dashboard: See how customer contacts are interacting across all media and queues. Instantly understand how many calls are being handled and how many are being abandoned.
- Queue Dashboard: Get insight into the call volume and performance of each of your queues across all media. And check up on how your customers are being handled by lassoing into groups of queues for quick drill down.
- Agent Comparison Dashboard: See how all your agents are performing against key metrics, regardless of what group they are in or which queues they are supporting.
- Agent Group Dashboard: Gain insight into which agent groups are handling which types of interactions, to ensure that the right folks are helping the right customers.
The most dynamic and direct impact to the contact center is the ability to take control over the data, create alerts for metrics that go out of bounds, save and schedule reports to provide key insights when needed and create visual displays of the team’s performance as well as customers satisfaction levels.
The Customer Experience
“A lot of people may think it’s strange that an Internet company would be so focused on the telephone when only about 5% of our sales happen by phone. But what we’ve found is that on average, our customers telephone us at least once at some point, and if we handle the call well, we have an opportunity to create an emotional impact and a lasting memory.” –Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
What Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, and other managers know is that long hold times, slow resolution times, being transferred multiple times and generally a lack of satisfactory resolution eats away at your credibility and the customer you worked so hard to earn.
We live in a self-help society where consumers still prefer human interaction with other human beings versus automation or artificial intelligence (AI). The phone may not play the role it once did, but customer engagement with your team, your brand, whether it be through SMS, social, email or voice contact is still the best way to keep customers happy.
What should you expect?
- As customer service has gone digital and, according to Forrester Research, for the first time ever, the use of the website (FAQs, self-help) has overtaken the phone as consumers’ primary channel for customer service in the US, not just the deployment of digital channels, but also analytics will matter more.9
- While the telephone (73%) and email (68%) still play important roles it’s remarkable that 76% of US consumers look for information themselves on websites. It’s yet another challenge as de facto often contact center agents don’t know what’s on the website. 10
- Contact centers will look for tools that allow them to analyze call volume per hour against staffing levels and hours of operation, in order to schedule accordingly and possibly reduce or eliminate hold times. These types of analytic tools are no longer the exception; they are today’s norm.
- More than just data. Unified communication tools like 8x8and others provide more than data, they provide a powerful graphical display of your data that reveal actionable insights for a Contact Center Manager to evaluate.
Improve Agent Productivity with Data
It has long been known that it takes approximately 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved, negative experience.11 So, when agents don’t perform effectively, they can hurt a business’ customer relationship.
For example, Mary is new a new agent in the Customer Support group. She takes the same types of calls as everyone else but has less experience answering the questions she is getting. It is likely that you would see a longer than average handle time for Mary’s calls because she is trying hard to solve the customer’s issues. But you might also see a higher than average (compared to the rest of the group) percentage transferred compared to the rest of the group because, as hard as Mary is trying, she still has to transfer more calls off to others for assistance than the more experienced representatives. This scenario is an indication that Mary likely needs additional training.12
Analytics in the Virtual Office
Using cloud-based management analytics, contact center managers can get information in dashboard views that make it easy to manage agent performance, both in real-time so that actions like coaching can be taken when needed and with historical insights to make bigger-picture business decisions.
Accessible analytics also make it easier for managers to spot things that can impact overall customer experience and address these issues in a coordinated way.
How to quantify and measure agent performance 13:
- Define performance expectations and measure agents
- Set performance baselines and measure changes over time
- With multiple reviewers scoring the same interaction, differences between the scores can be used to normalize the review scoring between different reviewers
- Attach and share up to 10MB of files per evaluation
- Autosave feature when completing evaluations; never lose your work
For agents to be successful, they must have a full picture of the customer and the insights around opportunities, such as cross-selling, upselling or simply how to improve the customer experience.10 At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that metrics management is also about people and process.
The evolution of data and analytics has come a long way from using spreadsheets. With today’s software, skilled business intelligence analysts and the ability to collect and analyze data is all about working smarter. Getting the right data and analytics accelerates the way business leaders get answers. Tools like 8×8’s platform simplifies access to data for both internal and external sources, harmonizes disparate data sets on the fly, enables fast, collaborative exploration, and reduces businesses wait time for insights.
Stop Your Contact Center Service From Getting a Bad Rap. Let Big Data and Analytics Save the Day!
- 5 Metrics that Every Call Center Manager Should Know: Why It Matters To Have The Right Metrics As A Call Center Manager
As CEO of Packet Fusion, Matt sets the tone and vision for our company and our customers. His 20+ years in telephony gives him a deep understanding of unified communications and collaboration technology. He is an engaging presenter and has a knack for breaking down the often over complicated VoIP technologies into plain and simple English. Outside of PFI, Matt’s happy place is on the golf course or on a bike ride with his daughters.