Data analysis moves call centers from tactical to strategic

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Keith Dawson is principal analyst-contact center practice at Frost & Sullivan. BtoB recently asked him about trends in contact center metrics. BtoB: What are the major challenges in perfecting the call center function? Dawson: First is the issue of efficient call transfers, then of agent skills and develop-ment, and finally operations as it integrates and relates to the rest of the organization. That last ingredient includes taking caller information, and filtering it through analytics and melding it into the marketing department. BtoB: For many call centers, isn't the main metric just getting the most calls processed in the shortest amount of time? Dawson: Call centers are about squeezing every dime of productivity out of their head count. But there are many interesting tools that go beyond performance management and provide the organization a holistic view of its customers. Most contact centers can only [step up to this level] when they have the time and resources. BtoB: What's the potential for marketing? Dawson: [Call centers are] sitting on terabytes of information that largely go uninterpreted. To the extent that the center can seize control of that information and make sense of it—and help everyone else from marketing to product development understand the consequences of decisions—the contact center can become strategic rather than tactical. BtoB: In what form do you see that happening? Dawson: Consider quality monitoring, for example. Most of the time, the recordings are examined for what the agent is doing during the call. But there's a whole other side of that conversation going on: what the customer is doing and his interaction with the agent. That can be hard to codify. BtoB: But not impossible? Dawson: Not at all. Speech analytics [can be used] as a business intelligence tool by the marketing department. Instead of talking about shaving seconds off each call, you have to talk about making up-sells and cross-sells, based on customer intelligence that's now available to the agent in the blink of an eye.
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