Big Data has certainly become a buzzword of late. You will find the phrase sprinkled through journal articles, marketing material and widespread across the internet, claiming that it is a panacea to many business ills. But what is Big Data, how is it of use to a call center, and how do you use it to predict future business outcomes?
Forbes recognized that there is no simple definition of Big Data in their article, Big Data Definitions: What’s Yours? Although the term has been bandied about since 1997, there has been no consistent meaning for it. In many ways, definition #12 is indicative of the term’s broad application: “A new attitude by businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and individuals that combining data from multiple sources could lead to better decisions”. This definition highlights that Big Data is as much a change of attitude as it is a change in the quantity of data physically being collected.
However you define it, Big Data has led to a paradigm shift in many industries. It is a combination of the ability to collect a sheer mass of different types of structured and unstructured data, along with the change in view towards how firms can use this data.
The collection of Big Data, allied with new capabilities for analysis, has provided call center management with added visibility into company operations and their client base like never before. Increased visibility leads to greater insight, which in turn, leads to better decision making.
A massive increase in the quantity of data that call centers collect is potentially a good thing, but there needs to be a purpose for collecting this data. Data, by itself, has very little meaning. What business owners truly need for their firm is actionable information – data that is useful for improving business performance. Call centers that engage in the collection and analysis of this data do so to improve their overall performance, and most critically, improve their bottom line.
That is the crux of the matter. There is no benefit in collecting Big Data if you are not going to use it to bring about positive change and improved results for your business.
You can use the analytics of your data to find evidence of how you can improve the way you do business. For instance, if you electronically monitor all of your calls, you can use voice analytics to spot your agents’ weaknesses, and then modify their training to counter these weaknesses. You may discover that your agents are not proactively listening or positively engaging with your customers, and you can come up with intervention and training strategies to help them improve their performance.
You can also use the wide variety of information you gather about your customers, both actual and potential, to better understand them. What do they want? What is the meaning behind the words they choose to use when conversing with your agents? Do your agents need to ask more insightful questions?
Big Data and the analytics you perform are business tools you can use to improve your future outcomes based on past events. It can make extremely accurate “best guesses” of future events, using a combination of the data collected in the past, and even real-time collection in the present.
You can use these predictions to allocate resources efficiently, including staff time and budgets. It can even help you determine which staff members work best with which types of customer, which you can then use to your advantage when allocating jobs to your team.
With time, Big Data collection has become more sophisticated. You can now collect real-time voice data from both your agents and customers that determine the speaker’s emotional state in a particular call. From this, you can determine what is really being meant in a phone call, not just what is said.
Overall, the collection and use of Big Data have revolutionized the call center industry, along with many other types of businesses. Have you dipped your toe into the ocean of Big Data collection yet? Maybe it’s time to see how it could help optimize your business decision-making.