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Analytics in the contact centre – enhancing value and improving customer experiences

09 December 2014

By Marco van Biljoen, Executive Head: Gauteng and Central, The Jasco Group

Contact centres are often a customer’s only point of interaction with a business and its brand, and as such service should be optimised to provide the best experience possible. Many studies have proven that ineffective service, poor call handling, long hold queues and other contact centre issues can have serious negative consequences for business. Intelligent analytics is essential in addressing these challenges and others, assisting contact centres to maximise agent productivity and value while improving performance and enhancing customer service.


Customer service is an essential function of the contact centre, and is also a high priority for customers. This is highlighted by a number of studies into contact centres and the customer experience. For example, the Customer Experience Impact Report from Harris Interactive reveals that 60% of customers will pay more for a better experience, and that 86% of customers stopped doing business with a company following a poor customer experience. The same study reveals that customer service agents failed to answer consumer questions 50% of the time. The RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report concurs, stating that 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, while the American Express Global Customer Service barometer from latest available data indicates that 59% of customers will try a new brand or company for a better service experience.


Poor customer interactions are responsible for a large proportion of lost sales and therefore of lost revenue. In fact, a McKinsey report indicates that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, while the abovementioned studies from Harris Interactive and RightNow show that the top two reasons for customer loss are customers feeling poorly treated and failure to solve a problem in a timely manner. Despite the evident importance of customer service and the vital nature of the contact centre, the Customer Experience Peer Research study conducted by Forrester Research indicated that just over a third (31%) of organisations closely monitored the quality of their customer interactions. Finally, according to ‘Understanding Customers’ by Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive experiences to combat one unresolved negative experience. Monitoring the quality of interactions and then leveraging this information to improve customer service is essential.


The benefit of analytics as a tool to deliver meaningful business insight for better, faster decision-making ability is something that is well understood and often results in a more agile company. However, many organisations do not realise that this same concept can be readily applied within their contact centre, often using the technology they already have in place. According to the latest available data from the Ventana Research Contact Centre Analytics Benchmark Research, two-thirds of organisations view access to real-time as important. However, of these respondents, only 8% receive the information in real-time, with 18% receiving the information the same day and the remainder receiving it up to four weeks later. Intelligent analytics within the contact centre can address this real-time information challenge and provide benefits for both inbound and outbound interactions, assisting organisations to deliver better service and optimise contact centre-related business processes such as collections.


On the inbound contact centre side, ensuring optimal service is key. Customers are often upset by the time they call in, so quality assurance not only after the fact, but also in real-time during a call is essential. Using intelligent speech analytics solutions, tools can identify precisely when a call needs to be escalated. For example, if swear words are detected during a call, this call can then be automatically routed higher up so that the issue can be more readily resolved. Speech analytics can also detect if certain required phrases, such as those necessary for contractual obligations and compliance, are omitted, and this can be rectified immediately.


When it comes to outbound contact centres, the collections process is often challenging and lacks efficiency. Agents often end up phoning customers without strategy or intelligence as to how, why and when they should be contacted. This means that customers might not be reachable when they are contacted, resulting in the need to make repeat calls. Alternatively the agent may call the customer at an inconvenient time, which has a negative impact on the customer experience. In order to optimise this process, it is necessary to analyse historical data around customer interactions. Best time to call analytics ensures that all available information is used to deliver insight to the agent as to the right time and day to contact the customer to maximise the value of the interaction for both parties. In addition, intelligent analytics can be used to ensure the agent is contacting the correct person on the right phone number, decreasing the number of connects necessary and maximising agent time with the right party.


Intelligent analytics enables improved agent productivity, which is critical to the success of a contact centre, by offering technologies such as best time to call along with more commonly used tools such as predictive diallers and reporting tools. In addition, real-time speech analytics along with reporting can be used to enhance customer service, which will show direct returns to the bottom line.