One of the problems in the contact center and IT worlds is that terms mean different things to different people. Take “contact center” for example. The meaning was clear when it was just the call center because people knew it was a place that centralized the handling of customer phone calls. It became the virtual call center when calls were distributed over multiple sites. Then it became the contact center because some companies started to ask agents (a term that is interchanged with customer service representative, customer service agent and the like) to handle forms of interaction other than calls – e-mail, letters, chat and others. Now “center” has lost relevance as interactions are handled by the “best” person in an organization, whether in a formal center or working at home; indeed the agent may be in-company or working for a third party that provides outsourced interaction-handling services. This situation makes the term “contact center analytics” imprecise because what is really required is interaction-handling analytics.
Verint is one vendor that has caught up with the terminology, and that is reflected in a newly released product called Customer Interaction Analytics (CIA). CIA allows companies to monitor and analyze customer interactions across multiple communication channels (or touch points) such as chat, e-mail, phone and social media. It is part of the company’s Impact360 workforce optimization suite that I assessed earlier this year and supports companies as they try to produce a complete picture of their customers, which is variously called the 360-degree customer view or the voice of the customer
To achieve this Verint has partnered with Clarabridge to incorporate its text mining and analytics that I assessed recently. This well-established product can import text from multiple sources such as e-mail, letter, forms, surveys, chat scripts and social media and pick out words, phrases, trends and customer sentiments from the content. Verint has built a tool called Customer Data Joiner which can integrate this information with other information produced by Verint’s data and speech analytics products. It uses a common key – for example, a customer account number – to bring together all the information about a customer and produce a complete view of that customer’s interactions. One of the key benefits is that companies can now see customer sentiment as it is being expressed across multiple channels, for example, by spotting social media comments about bad customer experiences when calling the contact center. This information allows companies to do some rudimentary “cause and effect” analysis so that issues being raised on one channel can be used to improve performance in other areas. In one example I heard this type of analysis enabled a company to take $4 million it was about to spend in one area and redirect the investment to another area where its customers had serious issues. The first release of CIA includes this core analysis, and future developments will extend functionality into other areas.
I have written several times about contact center analytics and the needs of companies to better understand how their centers are performing and how well they are handling customer interactions. However, my most recent benchmark research into contact center analytics showed that adoption rates of specialist analytics products are still low and the majority of companies continue to use spreadsheets to produce their contact center reports and analysis. While spreadsheets have their place in every organization, they are really not up to the job of producing complex analysis, particularly when it involves unstructured data such as voice recordings and text. Regarding change, one message from the research is that for companies to adopt these more specialized products, they must be easy to use and show a clear return on investment. From what I have seen, CIA is relatively easy to use, and the sentiment analysis will allow companies to take preventive actions to improve the customer experience before negative comments can do lasting damage. Is your company looking to improve the handling of customer interactions and make every customer interaction a positive one? If so, I recommend you look at CIA to see how it can help in your efforts.
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Richard Snow – VP & Research Director