Your call center is one of the best windows into the customer experience. Customers gift your company bits of information with every interaction. When your call center gathers and analyzes this rich data, you are able to turn it into valuable business intelligence. This information can be leveraged by many parts of your organization to improve the customer experience and increase brand loyalty. At the same time, your call center evolves from being viewed primarily as an operational expense to a trusted resource of actionable customer insights.
Three examples of valuable business intelligence you should be collecting in your call center are new product data, complaint data, and customer satisfaction data. We will discuss each type of data, including real-life examples from our COPC Inc. customer experience consulting engagements. Each of these examples shows you how the collection of specific data can help your company better respond to the needs of your customers.
New Product Data
If your company regularly releases new products or services, feedback from customers who contact the call center to discuss their issues or concerns is invaluable to your manufacturing and design departments.
Here is an example of an organization utilizing its call center to gather new product data:
Scenario: A computer manufacturer wanted to understand customer issues with its new products.
Actions Taken: The company’s call center routed customers who had purchased a new product within the last three months to specific agents. These agents were given a higher handle time target and more time after each call to complete a short questionnaire to detail the customer’s reason for calling and to document the issues they were having with the products.
This initiative was developed in partnership between the manufacturing and design teams, with the call center utilized as a listening post to gather objective customer feedback that could be used to improve products. The data received during these calls was aggregated and analyzed, with the results provided to these two teams.
Results: As a result of gathering this valuable business intelligence, a laptop model was redesigned so the lid was not as fragile as in the original design. A different video card was chosen for subsequent products based on negative feedback regarding the existing model.
Summary: Changes were made to design that saved the company money by reducing returns and technical support calls. This initiative also fostered a stronger partnership among the departments of customer support, manufacturing and design while creating a superior product and customer experience.
Your call center also can be a resource to collect valuable business intelligence regarding complaints from customers. For most organizations, this type of data is only sourced from customer satisfaction surveys and executive complaints. Often, complaint data from these sources are not representative nor are they aggregated and analyzed.
Without appropriate and detailed complaint data, organizations that directly impact the customer experience often discuss failures in general terms and lack the information needed to address root causes. Trying to resolve customer complaints without fully knowing all the underlying issues can also lead to friction between departments, which further erodes the overall goal of improving the customer experience.
Here’s an example of how an organization benefited by collecting complaint data through their call center:
Scenario: A mobile phone company was experiencing extremely high call volumes to their centers that provide sales and support. The marketing department was frustrated with the work of the call centers because a high percentage of sales calls were being abandoned. The call center was complaining that they were receiving more service calls than expected, but no one knew why. They claimed this was due to fulfillment issues, but the fulfillment vendor asserted there were no issues.
To make matters worse, the call centers were outsourced to one third-party provider, and fulfillment was outsourced to the manufacturer of the handsets. Not only were two third-party vendors involved, but they were managed by different departments at the mobile phone company. This resulted in a lot of finger-pointing but little coordination to resolve the problem. After a short period of time and providing a lot of anecdotal evidence that was discounted, the call center vendor determined a more quantitative approach would be helpful.
Actions Taken: The call center vendor created a short form to document each call associated with fulfillment issues. Based on input from the call center agents, the form contained a checklist of the most common delivery issues customers were having. For three days, every agent completed the form when they received a call regarding a fulfillment or delivery issue. Afterwards, the forms were aggregated and analyzed, and the contact center vendor, handset manufacturer who was providing fulfillment, and the two mobile phone departments managing these vendors met to review the data.
Result: The data showed the majority of the issues were because customers were not receiving the correct handsets. The form was then modified to capture additional details about the handsets ordered and the handsets received. More data was gathered for another three days, and the group met again to review the additional information collected. They identified a conflict between the stock keeping units (SKUs) in the warehouse and the order management system for the handsets in question.
Summary: As a result of the detailed data collected by the call center, the customer issue of receiving the wrong handset was resolved, and the call volume to the center decreased to expected numbers. This allowed the call center to again focus on sales calls.
Customer Satisfaction Data
Lastly, your call center also can be a resource to collect valuable business intelligence regarding customer satisfaction to take action to improve its own performance. If the call center knows what attributes in their interactions are most important to overall customer satisfaction, it can take action on those that matter most.
Here’s an example of one company that analyzed its call center customer satisfaction data to understand specifically what the center needed to work on to improve the customer experience.
Scenario: A manufacturer of a consumer product was not sure what was important to the customers calling into the call center, and therefore they did not know with certainty what was most important to improve.
Actions Taken: An analysis of customer interactions with the call center was completed to understand the relative importance of all the attributes within those interactions. They learned that timely issue resolution and having the authority to handle the customer requests were the two most important drivers of customer satisfaction with the call center. These were also the two attributes that customers felt the call center performed the poorest—out of seven attributes. Figure 1 shows you the details of this analysis.
Result: The company revised its scope of support so agents had more authority to resolve customer issues on the first call. They also ensured that ongoing training of existing agents and new hire training better equipped agents to resolve customer issues.
Summary: The call center management team shared the results of their analysis, not just within their own group but also with other departments. This helped them establish credibility of their ability to use data effectively and use it not just to identify issues with other departments but to improve their own performance.
Figure 1: Timely issue resolution and authority to handle customer requests were the most important attributes to customer satisfaction but were rated the lowest performing attributes, according to the customer satisfaction data.
There are multiple touchpoints where customers interact with your company, and while social, online and mobile channels can provide the benefit of immediacy, few, if any, of these channels provide the breadth and depth offered by customer interactions with your call center. This information gained through your call center is more valuable than the richest market research.
The collection of these three examples of business intelligence—new product data, compliant data, and customer satisfaction data–did not require significant investment of time or money; however, all provided significant return on investment.
The call center is not just an operational requirement. Your call center can bring exceptional business value when you aggregate and analyze data, providing quantitative conclusions to the appropriate internal organization that can implement change. When presented appropriately, the insights you can capture from customer interactions with your call center can have a direct and significant impact on improving the customer experience.