Disaster Readiness and the Contact Center
Factors to consider when evaluating a contact center outsourcing provider.
Two weeks ago, when I interviewed Richard Snow, Ventana Research's global VP and research director, Customer and Contact Center, about his new report on contact center analytics, I was struck by his statement that "people don't really know how to use" data analytics. He told me that many contact centers could cut their call volumes if they analyzed their customer data and shared a few anecdotes that illustrated his point. (And also, I might add, revealed a wonderfully dry sense of humor.)
When analysis of calls coming into a European cable company's call center showed some 70 percent of the calls involved billing issues, Snow tried to convince the company that its new call center only needed about 500 seats rather than the 3,000 it was planning on-provided the company made some much-needed improvements to its billing system.
A Forbes story describes how a company called 24/7 Customer, which runs call centers in more than a half-dozen countries, has developed software that it uses to analyze millions of online chats, e-mails and recorded calls to identify patterns and determine when customers become dissatisfied. The idea is to provide answers to common questions and solutions to common problems online, which should reduce call volumes as more customers use the website. (Of course companies must also make the information easy to find and use.)
Context is easy-anticipating and fulfilling is what's really hard.
Right, same old story. The technology is the (relatively) easy part; changing the underlying business processes to leverage the technology is what is hard. Systems like those offered by 24/7 Customer should help. But IT must work closely with the business to ensure websites and other self-service channels actually meet customers' needs. This came out clearly in comments on my recent post Human or IVR: Not an Either/Or Question. Wrote Tripp Babbitt:
... What I said is the work should be REDESIGNED to eliminate failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer) which represents typically 40-60 percent of all customer demands in most contact centers. IT people that fail to redesign the system to optimize effectiveness miss opportunities for improvement. They accept the failure demand and automate it. This helps no one. ... Technology folks need to understand that standardization of menu options on an IVR does not absorb the variety that customers bring to it. Study customer purpose and demands first before any technology is put into any service organization. My findings have been that you will have better relationships and happier customers.
24/7 Customer isn't the only company trying to turn contact center data into business insights that will help companies improve service and save money. Last week I wrote about a trio of new products from Cisco designed to make it easier to analyze customer data.