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Analytics in the Era of Social Media

Analytics in the Era of Social Media

Executives and strategists in enterprises all over the world recognize how important it is to determine how and when customers interact with them, including understanding their customers’ “journey.” Corporations can use this information to identify the most appropriate and cost-effective ways to reach out and respond to customers, to build loyalty and keep them highly satisfied. Companies can gain a significant competitive advantage if they know how every customer interacts with them and what each of their “touches” means. These insights also enable companies to better predict and influence future customer behavior: Enterprises can proactively identify at-risk customers as well as those who are considering a purchase. This knowledge gives companies and specifically their sales, marketing and service organizations, the ability to intervene at the right time to drive desired business outcomes.

The Growing Role of Speech and Text Analytics in Multi-Channel Environments

To fully appreciate the customer “journey,” enterprises need to capture 100% of customer interactions in all channels and create a consolidated view of each customer’s experience. Innovations in the area of multi-channel analytics, specifically, speech analytics and text analytics, have put enterprises in a better position to gain a holistic view of their customers’ experience. Companies can determine customers’ preferences for various lifecycle activities (i.e., which channels each customer prefers to use for sales, service, or to learn about new products). Speech and text analytics solutions can also be used to identify emerging issues and new customer trends. Speech analytics should be used to capture and structures phone conversations in order to identify customer needs, wants and insights. Text analytics can do the same thing with all types of solicited and unsolicited written communications, including, emails, chat, SMS, survey feedback, RSS feeds, blogs, social forums, etc.

It’s Time to Build a Customer Analytics Strategy and Team

The rapid growth of social media is speeding up the adoption of analytics, as enterprises look for ways to cost effectively understand what is being said about them in public forums. If there is any doubt about the validity of an emerging trend, enterprises can measure the trend’s “noise level” via social networks. To succeed with this approach, enterprises need to integrate feedback from their contact center, which is responsible for speech analytics, together with data from marketing, which is generally accountable for overseeing input from social networks. Companies need to develop an analytics strategy and form a team that is not limited by organizational structure, politics or channels. This team should report to executives who are positioned and willing to use the information to benefit the entire enterprise.

Social media is also driving unexpected and highly beneficial changes in service and marketing strategies and activities. The high public visibility of postings on social networks has encouraged customers to “go social” with a complaint, as they are aware that a social media posting may give them a better chance of getting their problem resolved than working through traditional channels. If multi-channel analytics were used to measure the impact and cost of customers’ use of social networking to resolve service issues, enterprises might feel a greater urgency to resolve the underlying issues.

Another use of multi-channel analytics is to reduce servicing costs by identifying the underlying reasons why customers reach out multiple times to address the same issues. Once this data is collected, enterprises need to conduct a more detailed business analysis. DMG recommends that companies feed the findings from speech and text analytics into an OLAP-type application to conduct multi-dimensional analysis in order to identify trends and correlations. For example, an organization will likely be able to find the relationship between product pricing trends, new competitive offerings and customer attrition. Or, they may discover how customers prefer to interact with them during different phases of their lifecycle. Used properly, this information can give companies a strong competitive advantage by helping them retain profitable customers and possibly acquire new ones, two of the greatest challenges for most companies.

Ask the Experts

Question:

I work for an Australasian bank, and have been given the task of writing a business case for Sales Direct (our sales function within our call center) to become a profit center, as opposed to a cost center. I’ve come across a lot of literature suggesting that this is a good idea. What I don’t have is any empirical evidence to support this. I was wondering if:

  • You could provide me with an approximate percentage increase that we could expect through (a) having effective sales targets and/or (b) having our sales team treated as a profit center, rather than a cost center.
  • If you have any other anecdotal evidence supporting my business case, then that would be much appreciated.

Answer:

Many companies have succeeded in converting service centers to profit centers; even more have failed because they did not do it properly. Right now, I am pleased to say that one of my clients is succeeding very nicely with just this type of conversion, largely because they were willing to make the necessary investments. (This client is a technical support organization.) However, there are no standard guidelines even within industries. because the steps to success vary according to the particulars of each situation, including products, experience level of staff, supporting systems, number of agents, volume of transactions, margin per sale, etc. The process of converting to a profit center also depends on training and agent compensation. It is based on changing many aspects of the call center, including KPIs, quality assurance programs, agent evaluations, and much more. So, without having the opportunity to assess your operating environment, it would be a mistake for me (or anyone) to try to make any projections.

Since you hopefully know all aspects of your operating environment, I suggest that you do a pilot with a handful of agents to gain an appreciation of the benefits of converting to a profit center, and then do your projections. For the pilot to be successful, you’ll first have to give your agents the support they need to prepare them to sell … Read More

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.