Your call center is one of the best windows into the customer experience. Customers gift your company bits of information that you can turn into valuable business intelligence to improve the customer experience and increase brand loyalty. At the same time, it can transform your call center into a trusted resource of actionable customer insights.
Three examples of valuable business intelligence you should collect in your call center are:
- New product data
- Complaint data
- Customer satisfaction data
We will discuss each type of data, including real-life examples from our COPC Inc. customer experience consulting engagements. Each example shows how collecting specific data can help your company better respond to your customers’ needs.
New Product Data
Consider this example of how an organization utilized its call center to gather new product data:
Scenario: A computer manufacturer wanted to understand customer issues with its new products.
Actions Taken: Specific agents handled customers who had purchased a new product within the last three months. Those agents had a higher handle time target and more time after each call to complete a short questionnaire. Agents detailed the customer’s reason for calling and documented their issues with the products.
The manufacturing and design teams formed a partnership and developed a plan for gathering objective customer feedback. They used the call center as a listening post to get information that informed product changes and improvements.
Results: This valuable business intelligence uncovered that the lid was too fragile and dissatisfaction with the video card. The organization redesigned this model with a sturdier cover and a different video card for subsequent models.
Summary: In the long run, the design changes saved the company money by reducing returns and technical support calls. This initiative fostered a more robust partnership among the departments while creating a superior product and customer experience.
Your call center can also be a resource to collect valuable business intelligence regarding customer complaints. Most organizations obtain this type of data primarily from customer satisfaction surveys and executive complaints. Often, complaint data from these sources are not representative, nor are they aggregated and analyzed.
Organizations with a direct impact on the customer experience often discuss failures in general terms and lack the information needed to address root causes. Trying to resolve customer complaints without fully understanding all the underlying issues often leads to friction between departments, which impedes the overall goal of improving the customer experience.
Here’s an example of how an organization benefited by collecting complaint data through their call center:
Scenario: A mobile phone company was experiencing extremely high call volumes in their centers that provide sales and support. The marketing department was frustrated with the call centers because a high percentage of sales calls were abandoned. The call center complained that they received more service calls than expected, but no one knew why and claimed this was due to fulfillment issues, but the fulfillment vendor asserted there were no issues.
What made matters worse is each function was outsourced to a different third-party provider and managed by different mobile phone company departments. There was a lot of finger-pointing but little coordination to resolve the problem.
Despite anecdotal evidence, the call center vendor determined a more quantitative approach would be helpful.
Actions Taken: The call center vendor created a short form to document each call associated with fulfillment issues. The form had a checklist of the most common delivery issues. The agents completed the form when they received a call regarding a fulfillment or delivery issue.
After evaluation, they discovered most of the issues were because customers were not receiving the correct handsets. Then, they modified the form to capture additional details that compared the handsets ordered and those obtained.
Result: The contact center vendor, handset manufacturer providing fulfillment, and the two mobile phone departments managing these vendors met to review the data. They identified a conflict between the warehouse’s stock-keeping units (SKUs) and the order management system for the handsets in question.
Summary: Detailed data collection by the call center enabled them to resolve the issue. Hence, customers received the correct handset, reducing service call volume and allowing the call center to re-focus on sales calls.
Customer Satisfaction Data
Call centers can also collect customer satisfaction data to improve their performance. Call centers can improve by identifying the interaction attributes most important to the customers and taking action on those attributes when performance is poor.
Below is an example of how a company used customer satisfaction data to identify opportunities for the call center to improve the customer experience.
Scenario: A consumer product manufacturer was unsure what mattered most to the customers calling. Because of this uncertainty, they did not know where to make improvements.
Actions Taken: To understand the relative importance of the attributes to overall customer satisfaction, we analyzed customer interactions
The two most important drivers of satisfaction were timely issue resolution and having the authority to handle customer requests. These were also the two attributes on which customers felt the call center performed the poorest—out of seven attributes.
Result: The company revised its scope of support to give agents more authority to resolve customer issues on the first call. They added continuous training for existing agents and revised new hire training to help agents to resolve customer issues more efficiently.
Summary: The call center management team shared the results of their analysis within their group and with other departments. Their effective use of data established credibility among departments. They were able to use it not just to identify issues with other departments but also to improve their performance.
There are multiple touchpoints where customers interact with your company. While social, online and mobile channels can provide the benefit of immediacy, few, if any, of these channels offer the breadth and depth of customer interactions with your call center. The data you can gain through your call center is more valuable than the richest market research.
None of the examples above required a significant investment of time or money— but each provided substantial returns on investment.
The call center can be so much more than an operational requirement. Your call center can bring exceptional business value by aggregating and analyzing data and arriving at quantitative conclusions. The appropriate internal organization can then implement change with confidence. With proper collection and evaluation, the insights you capture from call center interactions can directly and significantly impact the customer experience.