Written by

Eric Lancaster
December 19, 2015

Are You Ready For the Big Data Era of the Call Center?

Soon, big data and analytics will play a large role in contact center improvement, making it more of a business necessity than differentiator.

Big data has been around for a long time, but until recently, large stores of information were more of a problem than a solution. After all, storage space used to be very expensive, and the risk of keeping customer and corporate data safe was only exacerbated as cybercrime became more sophisticated over the past decade.

However, today, businesses of all sizes and in a wide variety of industries have turned their data lakes into valuable pools of resources for the improvement of operations, customer services, product development, marketing and much more. You can now deploy tools and systems that not only analyze data, but collect and correlate it from a wealth of different sources, as well as share that information across departments.

"Big data is exceptionally useful when optimizing customer experiences."

In particular, big data is exceptionally useful if you want to optimize customer experiences. These practices come in many forms, but leveraging big data within call centers is a popular approach to solving tech support and other customer service issues. Soon, big data and analytics will play a large role in contact center improvement, making it more of a business necessity than differentiator.

Are you ready for the big data era of the call center?

Before looking at technologies or determining data sources, you should create a big data strategy. This would entail the discovery of data as well as determining how to best use information to reach goals. First, figure out what that goal can be. There are dozens of different ways to leverage big data, so strategies can and should change as customer demands and corporate needs evolve.

That said, all big data initiatives, especially with respect to customer services and call centers, should place a priority on the consumers. Gartner Research Director Alexander Linden explained just that in a report.

"Ultimately, the use of customer data should provide more immediate benefit to the customer than to your organization," Linden wrote.

With a focus on improving customer relationships, the benefits to your organization will follow.

One of the most important aspects of harnessing big data lies in the proper classification of information. After all, with large quantities of data at your fingertips, you will need an easy way to identify what is where, how it got there and where it came from. In a call center, that might sound simple: Data will either come from calls or customer relationship management software, right? Not necessarily.

IBM recommended categorizing data based on its characteristics: What format is data in? Where did it come from? What kind of information does it convey? How frequently is new data generated? How quickly should it be analyzed?

With multiple sources of big data and dozens of different use cases, you must simplify how call center representatives and other customer services agents access this information. In basic terms, integrating various systems into a single dashboard that provides those employees with all relevant information is necessary.

"Big data platforms will make interactions better and customers happier."

Tech.Co suggested turning to specific tools and technologies that are able to display a wide variety of information in a way that is easy to understand. After all, call center representatives do not have the time to perform searches and dig through different systems just to find the most basic data. With a single platform, a customer services department will introduce new operational efficiencies, the source noted, and that will make interactions better, customers happier and bottom lines larger.

Nowadays, data breaches are a dime a dozen, especially in sectors that frequently handle financial data and other personally identifiable information. Therefore, when you are creating big data strategies, cybersecurity must be a high priority.

As a note, big data security should really only be a concern, not a fear. Between respecting customers' privacy and maintaining compliance with a variety of standards, securing large stores of information is just a smart business decision. Simply having a big data system doesn't open the doors to hackers.

You should work closely with all customer services representatives to help them understand the importance of data protection. Additionally, you must establish policies and enforce them if you plan on sharing data with third-party organizations or they expect to provide you with customer information from their interactions.

Last but not least, you must remember to always inject some context into big data. By itself, big data is quite valuable, but once you pair that information with global events, corporate operations and consumer preferences, you will discover a wealth of new insights with respect to customer services improvement.

Called either dark data or unstructured data, the information that isn't immediately recognizable is often the most valuable. Chief Marketer explained that you can find the "root cause" behind customer interactions and their resolutions with unstructured data. That said, the context of big data won't be immediately apparent, but rather it will improve over time and with more information.

Don't fear the big data era of the call center. You can embrace it and improve customer experiences and contact center interaction with a little strategizing and a few technologies.

Written by

Eric Lancaster

Call Center