Over the last decade, in particular there has been an enormous level of disruption taking place across the contact center industry. Those who are still holding onto the “tried but true” best practices of an era that has long since ended are rightfully scared. Any change brings with it an incredible amount of uncertainty, and there are many in the industry right now who feel anxious at best and threatened at worst.
What savvy professionals understand, however, is that disruption isn’t necessarily bad – with the right perspective, it is simply an opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of by those who have been paying attention.
Over the next few years, users will actually begin to favor digital interactions over voice-based interactions when utilizing contact centers. For the purposes of this discussion, the term “digital interactions” refers to not only popular channels like phone apps and web chats, but also instant messaging, social media and similar channels.
So what, then, becomes of the living, breathing human agents who still come to work in these contact centers every day?
While it is absolutely true this shift is occurring and there are no signs of it slowing down anytime soon, it doesn’t mean we’re approaching an era where those live agents are about to be replaced by fully digital counterparts. If anything, the reverse is true – contact centers MUST maintain quality voice-based interactions IN ADDITION to digital interactions to better serve their customers and to maintain a competitive advantage moving forward.
Therefore, big data becomes the best chance most contact centers have at accomplishing both of these core goals at the exact same time.
What is Big Data and How Can It Assist Contact Centers During This Shift?
At its core, big data is about more than just a series of 1s and 0s sitting on a hard drive somewhere. It’s a term that refers to “an analysis of data in various forms that can reveal patterns, trends, and associations.”
According to one recent study, approximately two quintillion new bytes of data are created every single day. Another recent study conducted by Forbes revealed that more than 150 zettabytes, which is equal to roughly 150 trillion gigabytes, will need careful analysis in enterprise environments by as soon as 2025. About 90% of all data that currently exists on planet Earth was created in just one year – between 2015 and 2016. Based on all of that, it’s no wonder that the big data industry alone will be worth about $77 billion by as soon as 2023. If anything, it’s amazing that number isn’t higher.
All of this is based on the universal truth that data, on its own, is meaningless. So much of it is being created on a daily basis that it’s virtually impossible to glean anything meaningful from it on a surface level. Big data and solutions like business analytics and business intelligence allow organizations to dive beneath those 1s and 0s, uncovering the true story that is hidden underneath.
That insight represents actionable intelligence that, when applied properly, can allow even the smallest contact centers to finally unlock their full potential for the benefit of customers everywhere.
In a larger sense, big data enables and empowers contact centers by:
- Giving them a chance to dramatically improve both agent performances and customer satisfaction at the exact same time.
- Uncover opportunities to streamline processes and enhance productivity, thus cutting costs while also improving the quality of work that is capable of being performed.
- Delivering improved products and services based on the very real, very actionable preferences of the users a contact center has dedicated itself to serving.
- Enhancing security to make sure all of that private data actually stays that way for as long as possible.
- Recognizing both strong and weak aspects of a company in equal measure.
That last part is particularly important, as if you know what’s working you can obviously focus more attention on those areas and essentially “double down” on those results. But most critically, if you know what ISN’T working, you have an objective roadmap that you can follow to fix it. At that point, improvements in customer satisfaction and service are no longer a matter of “if” but “when.”
Why Big Data Matters: Breaking Things Down
Big data helps to accomplish all of these things by not only highlighting important communications in real-time, but by also uncovering trends in complaints, customer satisfaction and even product issues over time – all of which can be used to make meaningful improvements as quickly as possible.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that data volumes are increasing all the time. But something that a lot of people don’t necessarily realize is that this data is actually EASIER to collect as the use of digital interactions increases. This is especially true when those digital interactions are paired with the right software-based solutions in the first place.
Artificial intelligence, for example, can be used to highlight key words during conversations as they’re taking place. At that point, you can use them to identify and assess the interactions between customers and the agents they’re talking to.
So if a large volume of customer interactions all contain keywords that highlight the same issue in a short period of time, you suddenly have an opportunity to:
- Track agent responses to help make sure those customers are getting the viable solution they’re after.
- Getting that solution into the hands of other agents so that they, too, can address the problem quickly.
- Figure out what is actually causing that particular problem with your product in the first place, thus taking steps to correct it to prevent that issue from happening moving forward.
All of this would be difficult – if not impossible – to do if communications still existed in an analog, siloed-off world. Some agents would probably be able to help those customers, but others wouldn’t necessarily have the knowledge needed – and that wouldn’t even really be their fault. Much of a customer’s chance for a successful resolution would come down to who happened to pick up the phone at the moment they called, thus creating an inconsistent and ultimately frustrating experience for absolutely everyone involved.
After that data has been collected, companies are actually in a much better position to predict interactions that are likely to happen in the future – thus taking steps to improve their approach to resolution before the situation has actually happened.
Likewise, advanced systems can easily be used to leverage this information to formulate appropriate responses and to anticipate customer needs.
So if you wanted to uncover opportunities to improve customer satisfaction, you might want to look at not WHAT resolutions are offered, but HOW agents are doing the offering. Companies can gauge customer satisfaction when analyzing tone and keywords, all thanks to the intelligence that big data brings with it. If a customer is angry, for example, a speech analytics tool can provide the agent in question with a protocol that can be used to temper that anger and properly handle the situation.
Likewise, advanced systems can even be employed to use data to predict a customer’s age – all so that the agent can tailor their responses accordingly. After all, a 14-year-old and a 55-year-old may be looking for the same answer to the same question, but they’re very likely to have two totally different sets of expectations. With big data, you’re suddenly in a viable position to address both of these things at the same time.
Once businesses are able to better understand not only what their customers are saying but also how they think and what they want, they’re therefore able to fix problematic processes, do more targeted training and even identify the most efficient and satisfying customer approaches as quickly as possible.
You Cannot Fend off Disruption. You Can Only Prepare For It
This is what was meant when it was said that this disruption taking place in contact centers represents an enormous amount of potential just waiting to be taken advantage of by someone who is paying attention. Yes, it represents a major change from the traditional operations model of a contact center. Even though those older environments were built on the backs of customer interactions, things were fairly passive from the perspective of the agents themselves. Someone called with a problem and you either had the answer or you didn’t. You either provided the answer to a question or were unable to. Those really were the only potential outcomes and out of that, the myth of the “one size fits all approach to customer interactions” was born.
But thanks to big data, all of that has been torn down at this critical moment in the industry’s history. Customers want to have more personalized, specific interactions with the brands they’re doing business with. This is going to require a significant amount of effort, but that effort also represents a positive investment in the very future of your organization.
The contact centers that “get this wrong” will quickly find themselves left behind by their savvier and more proactive competitors. The ones that “get it right,” however, will have paved the way for a decade of prosperity and beyond. They won’t have to worry about the next big disruption taking place across the industry because they’ll finally be ready when it arrives.
If you’d like to find out more information about the importance of big data within the context of the modern contact center, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to see answered in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact Goodbay Technologies today.