Opinion by Clinton Cohen, CEO of iContact BPO
Your customer service contact center should be the hub of your customer service strategy and design. It is the melting pot where all that is right and wrong with your customer experience will ultimately manifest – where every enquiry, compliment and complaint will either be efficiently resolved to create a raving ambassador for your brand, or left to fester, creating a raging detractor who finds every opportunity to criticize your company. This is where the voice of your customer is heard, but only if you’re listening.
Your contact center and the volumes of customer data it holds is a fundamental differentiator in your customer experience (CX) strategy. Invaluable customer information flows in and out of your contact center every hour – who they are, where they live, what they purchased, their reasons for making contact, has their enquiry been resolved, what are their pain points, and so much more. The rapid digitisation of business and service processes brought about by the pandemic means that oceans of information are at your disposal. It’s here where the value-added data science and analytics capabilities that your contact center brings to the table – whether inhouse or outsourced on a BPO basis – provides deep insights into your customer journey, from point of product origin through to warranty fulfillment.
As one example, speech-to-text capabilities and sentiment analysis allow BPO providers to deliver quality assurance levels never seen before. Instead of randomised checks, now every recorded conversation is fed through speech-to-text AI, indexed and checked for compliance and resolution. Key words can be flagged to reveal trends. Previously, call QA was done on a limited basis where a QA manager listened to randomly selected conversations, drawing up metrics and reporting manually. Now, thousands of calls go through an automated, intelligent system that crunches in-depth and accurate reports in minutes, providing reliable, large databases of information for actioning and improvement. The same can be done with webchats and e-mail data.
Similarly, such capabilities allow comprehensive tracking and recording of a every interaction that a customer has with your call center, so that no matter which agent assists them, they have a comprehensive view of where that customer is in their journey with your business, and where matters were left off in the previous contact. Such large tracks of data are best suited for identifying trends which is simply not possible with limited data samples.
In a material example, a data analyst would quickly question recurring trends in the data requiring intervention. Is there a delivery delay in a specific region or product line? If so, investigate further whether a bottleneck with a logistics provider needs resolving, or a despatching delay or stock outage that is not getting resolved. Is there a spate of warranty claims on a specific product? If so, investigate the manufacturing process, or product handling, is there a design or component flaw that needs resolving?
What would it mean for your customer experience if you could send out a pre-emptive, courtesy message to advise clients of issues before they happen, and before they lose their sense of humour? What would it mean to your business if you could manage customer expectations for better outcomes, pre-empting problems before they arise, by analysing the gold that resides in your contact center – the Voice of Your Customer? When you take this level of data and analytics and AI and layer it over your customer information and value chain in your business, your contact center becomes a highly strategic business partner, and an enabler in a world where CX is fast becoming the only differentiator.
However, how this data is collected, analysed and put to use is key. Data collection for the sake of ticking boxes fulfils no purpose other than to provide some form of compliance track record. Like a precious gem, data first needs to be mined and extracted, the peripheral stuff that adds no value needs to be removed, it needs to be cut and polished, and only then is value derived when its purpose is fulfilled and acted upon.
The businesses that excel in building exceptional customer journeys are the ones who invest in the tools, technology and platforms to extract the value that sits in their customer data. What better, first-hand account could one wish for than the voice of customer data that flows into your call center?
By recording, analysing and listening to what your customers are telling you in their everyday interactions with your agents, chat bots and other digital channels, you’re able to extract actionable steps to resolve issues before they happen, and most importantly, resolve the causes of repeat complaints that cost you loyalty and customer satisfaction. Fundamentally, understanding this data will help you design the right customer service delivery platforms to meet your customer needs now, and going forward.
For example, the pandemic experience has shown that while chatbots, whatsapp, live/web chat and other self-service platforms have been invaluable in providing scale and resolving simple service queries quickly to reduce volumes, they have not been an effective replacement for human engagement, especially on complex enquiries. By analysing such data, along with resolutions rates and sentiment analysis, we know that offering multichannel, AI-driven client service platforms as a back-up to the essential human engagement, and not as a replacement, is crucial. Your data will inform the level, scale and resources that need to back every customer service channel, and even what external factors may impact your customer service strategy to ramp up under extraordinary circumstances.
By analysing the data and listening to the voice of your customer across all the channels of service delivery in your contact center, businesses have an opportunity like never before to build adaptive, responsive and resilient customer service models that safeguard and enhance CX as the fundamental differentiator that it is.