The biggest thing you're missing is the customer intelligence mindset
The contact center is perhaps the most underappreciated part of most organizations. Unloved by customers. Labeled a “cost center” by execs. But in seemingly paradoxical fashion, “customer experience” has been put on a pedestal as a critical discipline by which businesses distinguish their products and services. How can these two contradictory concepts coexist?! It all has to do with the history of the contact center and how its value has been traditionally measured.
The Evolution from Call Center to Customer Intelligence Center
Historically, call centers were reactive, focused on answering customer phone calls and resolving issues as quickly as they could. In order to measure success, supervisors used the metrics at hand: number of calls, how long they took, and how long it took for an agent to take another. Over time, more channels were added – changing the name from call center to contact center. But the way value was measured didn’t change, still mainly focused on efficiency. The ability to better track customers led to things like first contact resolution, but qualitative measures were few and far between.
Today, contact centers are no longer just a hub for reactive customer support. Their role has expanded to encompass proactive customer engagement, product recommendations, and, most importantly, the collection and analysis of customer data. But despite being this critical asset for businesses looking to enhance customer experiences and drive growth, customer service organizations are still seen in this rigid, efficiency-only light.
Why change to a Customer Intelligence approach?
Organizations are under more pressure than ever to utilize their data for more informed decisions, better customer interactions, and increasing customer satisfaction. The first step is to think of your contact center for what it truly is – the centralized hub for gathering and utilizing customer intelligence.
Taking this approach provides a number of tangible benefits:
- Better insight into customer experiences: By leveraging the data collected through the customer interactions you’re already having, you can understand how customers feel about your experience, what they’re contacting you about, and which areas are in need of improvement. Taken at the individual customer level, this is interesting. Taken at the aggregate across millions of conversations, this is incredibly insightful. Add to that, you don’t need to design surveys or get customers to take them. This is literally the voice (and text) of your customers.
- Improved customer retention: With deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences, you can identify and address potential issues before they become reasons for customers to churn. This could be something outside of the customer experience organization, like company policies or product features. Getting ahead of these can not only make the customer feel heard, but also increase their loyalty.
- Data-driven decision making: Your contact center data is a goldmine of information for strategic decision-making. It enables you to make informed choices about product development, marketing strategies, and customer service improvements. It’s perhaps your greatest competitive advantage – you just need to use it.
- More valuable feedback and issue resolution: A customer intelligence center can provide real-time insights within live customer interactions, helping agents adjust their talk track based on this feedback. Using automation and AI, you can provide agents with the right responses to guide to successful outcomes, based on what has been successful in similar conversations in the past.
Making the shift to a Customer Intelligence Center
This is not a transformation in name only – and requires some key steps to transform your contact center into a customer intelligence center:
- Data collection and integration: You’re already talking to customers. Now you just need to gather the data from various customer touch points, including calls, chats, emails, and messaging apps. Having all these interactions in one place helps you build a 360-degree view of your customers and spot trends that may be either cross-channel or only show up in one or two.
- Advanced analytics: Advanced analytics and visualization tools can make it easier to extract insights from this data and measure performance at every level of your organization. This could reveal sentiment analysis, customer segmentation, and trend forecasting, but also be used for agent performance and red flag issues that need to be addressed immediately.
- Automation and AI: These tools can be incredibly valuable in gathering data and performing this analysis as well as highlighting what your analysts need to focus on. Combining both AI and human intelligence can create a powerful mix of analytical horsepower while ensuring contextual understanding, leading to faster and higher quality insights.
- Agent performance and coaching: Traditional agent performance management was subjective and sporadic. Taking this new approach can create a more objective and targeted agent evaluation process. New solutions can make this currently tedious process of data collection, interpretation, and scorecard grading into a streamline, automated workflow where both analysts and agents can benefit.
- Feedback Loops: This is the most critical piece to gain greater value out of your customer intelligence center. Using the customer experience organization as the central hub of customer intelligence means they guide the rest of the organization when it comes to customer needs, product adoption, and more. But like any feedback, this needs to be more than a one way feed. Effective feedback loops also share data back to those customer touchpoints to do everything from update scripts to remove unnecessary interactions.
The main benefit is getting more out of what you’re already doing
Contact centers already have a lot of analysis and performance management activity. Quality Assurance analysts examine customer calls, emails and transcripts to grade how well the agent fulfilled set criteria in their scorecard. But that same analysis could reveal so much more.
Instead of thinking of them as QA analysts, this new approach makes them Customer – or even AI Analysts, with the finger on the pulse of your customers. In addition to agent performance and customer satisfaction, they could be the ones helping product teams understand how easy your products are to use or suggesting language to remove confusion from marketing promotions or guiding go-to-market teams on unaddressed pain points or use cases.
Your contact center is no longer just a place for customer service; it’s a strategic hub for gathering and using customer intelligence. But it’s also not going to change overnight. This transformation requires not only an understanding but also investment in data analytics, automation, and advanced technology to proactively gather and leverage customer insights. It also requires the rest of the business to look to customer experience to guide them on all things customers. The good news is, most contact centers already have the data, they just need to be empowered to become – and be seen as – the central hub of customer intelligence.
Image by Moondance