While companies have strengthened their focus on customer service, empowering their customers with multiple communication channels and increased access to customer service centers, many are still lagging when it comes to tapping into one of their greatest resources – the vast amounts of customer and interaction data being collected by their business operations on a daily basis. Although many companies realize that big data is a great customer service resource, they are not successfully using this data to build genuinely stronger, more meaningful, and more rewarding relationships with customers.
Consumer products and services companies spend countless resources collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data on their customers, looking for patterns to unlock hidden customer insights that, ultimately, will increase sales and profits. This mass data collection is now becoming mainstream as data-driven insight capabilities are available to and accessible by just about every business.
With so many companies collecting this data, one would reasonably expect organizations to know their customers well enough by now to be able to deliver a personalized and customized experience. However, a recent study conducted by Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business suggests that this is not the case.
The study, which tracks customer rage, revealed that, despite the increase in spending on customer-care programs, American consumers today are more dissatisfied than ever before with the products and services they buy. Additional key findings from the study include the following:
- The percentage of people reporting customer problems climbed from 32 percent in 1976 to 45 percent in 2011, and then to 50 percent in 2013.
- The number of households experiencing customer rage went up from 60 percent just two years ago to 68 percent this year.
- Despite the ubiquity of the Internet, customers are still 11 times more likely to complain over the phone than on the Web.
As companies continue to wrestle with customer-service issues, the disconnect between the increase in their customer data-collection efforts and the decrease in customer satisfaction comes down to four factors:
- The expectations of the American consumer are higher than they used to be. As technologies continue to advance, consumers are becoming accustomed to immediate results and begin to view this immediacy as a reasonable expectation. This presents a problem for companies because, as a result, they need to be more agile and adopt technologies that allow them to keep up with these expectations.
- Organizations are still determining how to get the most value out of big data. Although the mainstreaming of big data has been transformative, there is still a learning curve for companies that are hoping to tap into this resource to drive business results. There are countless sources of customer data because any given customer has multiple interactions with a company, but these companies are still trying to understand where and how to get the most out of their data.
- Agents are not positioned for success. Even though contact-center agents have the biggest impact on the customer experience, individual agents do not work in environments that are conducive to resolving issues. Contact center metrics are built around average handle time, service level, abandon rate, speed of answer, and first-call resolutions. Contact centers that focus strictly on promoting operational efficiencies and cutting costs end up employing agents who have little to no incentive to do more than the minimum.
- All customer data is isolated in silos. Virtually all interactions between a customer and the contact center touch multiple systems across the enterprise, and each of these systems collects, stores, and manages its own data. As companies begin using big data in customer engagement activities, they need to establish a unified view of customer interactions across these disparate systems. Until that time, it will be nearly impossible for companies to get a complete view of the customer journey.
All companies can curb the growing customer rage trends and tendencies by doing a better job of getting to know their customers. This can be accomplished by analyzing the information that is already at their disposal. From the customer’s perspective, interactions across the contact center are viewed as one experience, not multiple distinct interactions. By consolidating these customer touches, companies get a clear view into that customer’s journey, which results in a better understanding of the customers themselves and ultimately improves the bottom line.
Arnab Mishra is Senior Vice President, Products and Solutions at Transera. With over a decade in senior product leadership roles, Arnab has responsibility for the company’s product management, product marketing, program management, and strategic alliances functions. Prior to joining Transera, Arnab held senior product marketing positions at Alcatel (Genesys Telecommunications business unit), where he led the team responsible for the definition and positioning of Genesys’ core communications platform offerings. In addition, Arnab spearheaded the launch of the Genesys Voice Platform and was instrumental in making the product the leading, next-generation, voice self-service platform globally. Arnab has also held marketing and business development roles at Telera and worked both as a venture capital investor at The Beacon Group (now part of JP Morgan Chase & Co.) and an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Arnab holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.