Business Intelligence

Techniques used in spotting, digging-out, and analyzing business data, to support better business decision-making in the call center or contact center.

Contact Center Resources for Marketing Professionals

contact-center-resources-marketers-buttonAll of the brand promises developed by marketing professionals can be fulfilled, broken, or discovered in the contact center. More and more marketing professionals are taking keen interest in the operation and insights that can be captured in contact centers. Moments of truth, magic moments, defining moments, tipping points, perceptions, expectations, and recovery can all impact an organization’s brand and most often experienced and sensationalized and culminate in the contact center. These contact center resources for marketing professionals are focused on helping to better leverage the contact center for maximum brand impact.  Continue reading

Marketing Attacks Ambush the Customer Experience

marketing attacks ambush the customer experiencePreventing marketing attacks from ambushing the customer experience

The concept of guiding patronage behavior can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and in the print media back to the 1600s. I’m sure you’ve felt the impact of an effective marketing campaign and can personally attest to the success of such efforts on shaping behavior. You might also have had feelings of discomfort from marketing attacks. Did you pre-order the new iPhone 5s? Did you put a Furby or a Slanket under the Christmas tree? Have you agreed to try the DirecTV NFL Ticket? Have you gone to movies on opening night? Our behavior has been influenced to feel a need for many things, some things that may appear crazy to others, even to ourselves in retrospect.

A Blockbuster Flop

This is all well and good (and necessary) that Marketing is out there developing new customers, but the reality is that the customer experience must be positive in order for Continue reading

Is the Marketing Department your call center survey support group?

“Is the Marketing Department your call center survey support group?” is one of the self- assessment items in the 25 Mistakes to Avoid with Post-call IVR Surveys. This eBook consists of items designed to highlight attributes that are barriers to a successful customer experience measurement program. Take advantage of our knowledge and experience accumulated over the past 20 years since inventing post-call IVR surveying for call centers.

Why is this a problem?

By now most would agree that the management of a contact center is complex and challenging. How many other areas in your company require such a broad range of cooperation, knowledge, and expertise? Being the focal point of an organization draws attention that, at times, is not the kind that serves your service-focused mission. Continue reading

Why selling in service contact centers fails and how to fix it

pie chart about sales percentagesWhen you think of a typical salesperson what comes to mind? Do you immediately conjure up visions of multi-colored flags, ‘zero-money down’ signs, and some sleaze-bag car salesman telling you to buy the over-priced lemon of your dreams? The term, salesperson, quickly makes us imagine this derogatory image, something that we do not want to be associated with as our career label.

Let me challenge your normal reaction to the word ‘salesperson’ with one of my favorite quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson, “Everyone lives by selling something.” Think about that for a moment. When you’re at the hair salon and he or she is discussing the option for highlights or the hair care products, this hairdresser is selling, right? If you are a marketer you’re hoping to ‘sell’ your audience with your subject line and convince them to open your email and look at your message. And even as a parent, you are ‘selling’ your six-year old on those healthy green beans (or at least trying to). But I bet if you asked that hairdresser, marketer or parent if they worked in sales their answers would be a resounding “No”. In fact, only one in nine people in the US are designated as being in sales, but most everyone is. Continue reading

When is the right time to ask your customers to be customers again after Hurricane Sandy?

Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Northeast and changed the immediate futures of many.  Focus will no doubt shift from extravagant extras to just rebuilding the necessities. For many local businesses looking to rebuild as well and turning to their loyal customers and the commitments made prior to this unthinkable disaster, you have to wonder when is the right time to ask your customers to be customers again.

For one local-area sports team, a letter was sent to its season ticket holders affected by the storm offering their support and reminding them their first payment was now due.  If you are a season ticket holder it should come as no surprise that this money is due; you committed to these tickets nearly six months ago if not longer. As a team and a business in its own right, at a certain point disaster or not, there are still employee salaries and bills to pay.  But if your home is gone or you just lost a family member in the storm and you get a letter like this, would you think the team is pretty insensitive to your situation? Or would you feel they were within their right to collect the money you promised to pay? Continue reading

Obama Wins and a big data lesson for the customer experience

customer experience and contact center leaders learnAnalytics predicted an Obama win, and it’s a Big Data lesson for all customer experience and contact center professionals.

Before the votes were cast, New York Times blogger Nate Silver predicted, with 90%+ confidence, that Obama would win the election. He did this while billions of dollars were spent on old methods of people calling me, people knocking on my door, and outbound IVRs calling me all day long. Seriously, I was beginning to think all of that money was spent on me. I am so glad this is over; I can get some productive time back. Whew! Continue reading

Text analytics makes the most of consumer data

what's the point of gathering consumer data if you're not digging deeper to find trends?I recently wrote a blog post focused on how companies are using social CRM.  Everyone seems to be using social customer service to gauge customer sentiment, manage product and service issues, and follow up with customer service complaints.  The focus on social media strategies is overwhelming to many organizations but of even more significant is the lack of Social Media Business Intelligence.  Why are you monitoring and gathering all of that consumer data if you cannot do anything valuable with it? For any business project don’t you need to prove the value of the effort and investment?

Along with your consumer data gathering, consider text analytics to help you organize unstructured text-based data in your CRM systems (and in social media), survey and emails into a form that can be analyzed to uncover patterns or trends.  Do you notice a spike in online customer complaints about the lifespan of one of your new products?  What do you do to prove the need for action?  Text analytics supports, for example, the need for the manufacturing department to reevaluate the intended use for the product and the Warranty/Finance Department to alter the current product warranty.

Many companies may offer the complaining customers a quick refund or replacement to stop further brand badgering.  Dealing with one vocal and hostile customer at a time is not harnessing the power of the customer intelligence available.  Digging deeper into the mountains of information with text analytics or text BI uncovers the larger issues and builds a business case for a successful remedy, instead of putting a band-aid on one customer at a time. Continue reading

Five landmines for CRM professionals to avoid

This month, I had the opportunity to write an article for 1to1 Magazine about the top issues that CRM professionals will come up against this year. I focused on five points:

  1. Short-term cost-cutting hurts long-term growth.
  2. New technologies making new skills necessary for call center employees.
  3. Corporate arrogance hampering growth.
  4. Unnecessarily difficult relationships with vendors and partners.
  5. Challenges in translating big data to usable information.

The good news is, all of these issues can be overcome. To see how your organization measures up, check out the full article, “5 Landmines for CRM Professionals to Avoid in 2012.”

Let me know if you’ve encountered any of these issues, or if you think I missed any!

Social Media Business Intelligence is now available

As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking a lot this month about social media, and how it fits in with business intelligence and customer service. And that’s for good reason — more and more companies are trying to figure out how to navigate and take advantage of these (still relatively new) channels.

In response to that demand, we’ve just announced a new service offering, Social Media BI™, which is now available to our customers. Social Media BI is intended to help organizations move beyond just responding to individual complaints via social networks, and instead use these channels to identify and analyze issues that are creating the most problems for their customers. From there, we can help companies create proactive strategies for managing their social media efforts — and avoid the dreaded reactive approach.

Check out the announcement that we made this week for more information on Social Media BI, and let us know if you have any questions!

Continue reading

What is Business Intelligence?

Unless you’ve been actively hiding from all forms of media for the past year, you’ve heard about business intelligence.  A Google search of the term yields 108 million results.  So what is Business Intelligence?  Business Intelligence is the practice of using Big Data to gain insight and drive change within an organization.  A pretty broad definition, right?  How do we do Business Intelligence at Customer Relationship Metrics?

Much of the work we do with/for our business partners is based in call centers.  Call centers have been dubbed “the center of your universe” for very good reasons.  Terabytes of data on the customer experience are collected each year, from customer email addresses to compliments, product quality issues, questions, wish list items, consumer behavior, online presence and preferences, etc.  There’s not a better place in an organization to be if your slice of heaven is data, data and more data!  But much of the data collected in call centers is “raw”, unstructured, in a hard-to-use format, and/or disconnected from other key data points. Continue reading

Your quick start to the customer experience gold mine

Mining and analyzing customer comments to understand sentiment is no longer a wish. It’s a must. Based on years of experience, I suspect many of you are like the business partners I work with: you understand the value of the activity, would love to be able to get your hands on the insight, but don’t have the resources to do the work. 

But there is good news. Using basic business intelligence approaches, it is possible to get a quick start on sentiment and text analysis to better understand what your customers think and say about your business. This information can then be leveraged to better serve customers and ultimately, improve the bottom line. 

The rate at which customers provide commentary in customer experience surveys in itself can be very telling.  Below are examples of insights that can be gained simply by examining the relationship between key real-time survey metrics and the propensity of customers to provide verbal feedback. 

For the business partner depicted in the chart below, customer comments and real time alert rates were highly correlated. The more likely a customer was to comment, the more likely alert rates were to increase, and vice versa. This suggests that dissatisfied customers who required a follow up call from a manager were more likely to leave negative comments than positive ones. 

While this may seem troublesome at first blush, understanding customer complaints is often an untapped gold mine.  Reading and mining these comments could offer significant intelligence and gains for this business partner which can then be woven back into continuous improvement initiatives. Continue reading

Moneyball inspiration for contact center leaders

In baseball as in business, some of the greatest success stories lie with the individuals that thought outside the box.  In the movie Moneyball, we find Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the General Manager that famously made the Oakland A’s one of the most cost-efficient and winning teams out there.  Beane did not have the large media market dollars to pay for big name players. In order to win, Beane had to learn how to do more with less.  For Beane to be successful, it took a different perspective, skill and art than what was being used by all of Major League Baseball at the time. Beane looked at the game from a data-driven perspective and the acquisition of players in a new way.  Beane famously said, “Almost like a car salesman, if a guy walks onto the lot and a salesman qualifies him on how he is dressed he may miss out on a hell of a sale.  We try to open our mind and say it’s not about perception or what you think you see.”

In baseball, he had old perceptions fighting against him along the way. But Beane never stopped when people told him, “We’ve always done it this way.” or “Everybody else is doing it like this.” Nor did he stray when confronted with history; that managing a baseball team had been done the same way for over 50 years. Beane knew if he continued managing the same way and making the same decisions, he could never turn a losing ball club into a winner.

As you look within your own business and specifically in your call center, are you being courageous against the perceptions and people that refuse to think beyond common practices?  Or are you applying analytics to make better decisions like Beane did? I am always amazed with the employee and customer-driven innovations, and customer insights, that are uncovered through call center analytics.  Some innovators are applying these insights to improve company profits and competitive advantages, but most sit on the bench.

Many organizations use NetPromoter scores (NPS) in their call centers and report their scores on a regular basis.  But for Beane the common collection and reporting process would not be good enough.  Beane wanted to apply the information to his decision-making process and in order to do so, he needed to understand what exactly whats causing the increases or decreases in promoters and detractors.  He also needed to know the reasons for the indifferent people in the middle. Beane would want to conduct NPS Analytics so he could do more with what he already has, or do more with less.

While it is very common practice to do customer satisfaction surveys or customer experience surveys in call centers, what you should be asking yourself is, “Are you doing it like everyone else?” If you are, then you are not different than everyone else.  For Billy Beane and many of you that means you will be a loser in this highly competitive and commoditized world in which we live.  If you play that game then you will always loose out to the competitors with larger budgets.  It’s a numbers game; are you being smarter with your numbers?

Do you want to learn more about improving NetPromoter performance? This no-charge on-demand webinar shows you the methods used by one call center that resulted in more than a 100% improvement in NPS scores. Get access to this improving NetPromoter webinar here.

When you cut headcount is your customer experience bleeding?

I recently had to call the post office’s customer service number regarding a change of address form that got screwed up.  Monday I waited on hold for 15 minutes and finally hung up.  Tuesday, the same deal.  I finally physically went down to my local post office on Wednesday to deal with the mess in person.  And there I waited in line for 20 minutes before finally getting it sorted out.  There was one (!!!) person working at the post office window to deal with the many, many disgruntled people there. It sure makes it easy to see why they lose money each and every day they operate.

 While I understand the reality of our economy, it’s too simple to say ‘cut headcount’. Most financial people making the decision to cut headcount are not very skilled or intelligent. They are not capable of looking at the entire picture. They are simply making quick cost savings in the short run, without considering their long-term savings and growth potential.  Who ultimately pays the price for cuts in personnel?  First the customers pay, then the company. Your once loyal product advocates get cast aside in the name of smaller overhead and a more manageable bottom line.  So what’s the solution?  How can you reevaluate your business AND the needs of your customers to come to a more appropriate cost savings solution than just slashing headcount? Continue reading

Tips to prevent creating your own contact center analytics shelfware

Recently, I walked into my classroom for the upcoming term and braced myself for the exasperating questions that seemingly every class insists on asking:  “Will you be sending out lecture notes after class?”, “will this be on the test?”, and “why do I have to take this [any variation of math] class?”  The answers to which are “Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha,” “maybe” and “because you may want to choose to work in the fast food industry, because I’m guessing you’d prefer your Thunderbird T-top to rest on tires and not blocks, because maybe someday you’d like to have tires on your car but not on your house.”   But, this time around I was pleasantly surprised.  A student’s question about the merit of using paper and pencil (and whiteboard) to do math in a world of ever-accelerating computational speed led to a discussion of the priorities businesses place on subject-matter expertise versus technological skill.

The unfortunate reality is that many well-intentioned businesses spend millions of dollars each year on good, even great, tools designed to make their businesses more efficient and provide greater visibility into the inner-workings of the business.  They spend time and money making a business case for the purchase, calculating the product’s ROI, payback period, etc.  Unfortunately what is often lacking is the subject-matter expertise required to make good on the ROI projections.  Continue reading

Is your call center being setup for failure by your marketing department?

Is your call center marketing setting up your sales team for failure?Targeting customers with the right message at the right time and getting that message into the hands of a decision maker is one of best ways to gain new customers and to upsell current customers on new products and services.  Unfortunately for many companies, they fail miserably (unintentionally for sure) in their marketing efforts and may accidentally fail to set up the call center for success in selling.

Think about how often you get a completely irrelevant email offer?  I’m not even talking absurd spam; I’m talking about reputable companies with the wrong message.  More often than not, those companies would tell you they were doing a great job targeting their marketing but the call center just can’t convert the sales. Their customers, on the other hand, disagree (that’s the power of Customer Experience Analytics). So, where is the disconnection between consumer needs and what companies want to convey about their products and services so they can sell more?  You know we have to listen to our customers, and we think we are, so how are we still getting it wrong?  And what could it mean for our bottom line if
we actually got the message right and set the call center up for success? The answer to all of this resides untapped in the contact center. This is the opportunity that I love to help clients with.

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