Ten years ago, no one wanted to call your customer service number. Contact centers existed out of necessity, but deriving real value from them was tedious.
Now, thanks to customer service pioneers like Zappos.com and Amazon.com, the field is changing. Customers are staying on the phones because they want to. Every day, more contact centers are providing more of what consumers need: real, valuable service.
But that’s still the exception to the rule. Here’s a quick look at what is holding contact centers back, and how they can forge a better way forward.
Call centers are weighed down by data.
CIO.com reports that “there may be no corporate function that throws off more data than the corporate call center.” In a color commentary to accompany the report, Tony Filippone, executive vice president of research for sourcing analyst firm HfS Research, states, “Every contact is counted, routed, measured and scored. Agent performance is actively measured. Other key process owners, like finance and accounting or claims adjudication, wish their data was as rich.”
But the data richness could be easily lost in the deluge of sheer volume. A recent survey conducted by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) reveals that 25% of call centers suffer from “data overload.”
Sarah Stealey Reed, content director of ICMI, said, “Contact centers are in the middle of a data overload tempest, and with no relief in sight. In reality, this abundance of data can empower contact centers to help their customers and, ultimately, boost the businesses’ bottom line—but companies are failing their agents in leaving them empty handed.”
Data is like concrete—it will either provide a solid foundation for you to stand on, or it will crush you under its weight. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at three ways to get your data off your shoulders and under your feet:
Simplify before you amplify—a 3-step process.
Many organizations suffer from a case of “data for data’s sake”—and call centers are no exception. Data is inarguably important, but it has to be the right data for it to be useful. Here’s how call centers can use the right data to get the right metrics that provide the right insights:
- First, you haveto clearly define your business goals.
- Second, create specific strategies and actions that will drive you toward those goals.
- Third, choose specific metrics that show incremental progress toward your goals.
The process sounds simple—even simplistic. But it’s the small steps that help you keep your data in perspective and drive real value. These steps help you make better decisions about which data sources you need in order to measure real impact. Once you narrow down your data, you can amplify the impact that it has on your organization.
For call centers, that means turning the data coming out of your call systems and issue tracking software into insights that your reps can use to be more efficient at solving customers’ problems. Translation? Making customers happy makes you more money.
Getting the right data to the right people.
Virtually every organization has a two-fold problem: first, turning their data sets into actionable insights, and second, getting those insights to the right people at the right time.
Call centers need to make sure that they aren’t forgetting anyone in the data hierarchy: though you certainly need to provide management with the right information so that they can make strategy decisions, you’re missing a key element if your data dissemination stops there. Your frontline reps need data to work with as they make or break your entire organization’s relationship with its customer base. If the entire company is not sharing insights, then someone is operating in a blind.
If you want to move your call center to a higher level of customer service, you have to first create a solid foundation of the right metrics, provide data at all levels of the organization and be willing to pivot with the data.