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Big Data. Big Deal? (Part I)

Posted by on in The @PresenceTech Blog
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A common theme that we pick up in every Contact Centre is that they track their KPIs. Assiduously. No, fanatically. In fact, a cynic might say that the Contact Centre is set up to serve its KPIs and not its customers. Traditional theory is that if you hit your KPIs then you’re doing well in the Contact Centre. And once you’ve hit them, then let’s raise the bar a little more and we’ll be doing even better. Let’s add to that a high positive Net Promoter Score, and all’s well. Or is it?

Big Data. Big Deal? (Part I)

We’re starting to see a new theme developing and it’s that of discovery. Yes, KPIs matter, but, to coin a phrase, you don’t know what you don’t know. So slicing and dicing what’s going on in the Contact Centre requires a different method of analysis.

Almost all KPIs are based on some benchmark of achievement for transactions tracked in a database. Mining this data requires a hypothesis of what to look for. For example, the shorter the calls in an inbound call centre, the more efficient you are at handling them. Right? Perhaps, but how do you cater for correlation of resolution of the customer’s problem with the call duration?

What most Contact Centre managers have at their disposal is a set of standard reports. It might be possible to vary these slightly, but in the red hot heat of your average operational day, let’s be honest, you don’t get the time to go off piste and start to apply the grey matter. Instead, what happens is that assumptions are made against a theory about the cause of a problem, and poor decisions are made. The outcome of this is that many Contact Centres are constantly tweaking and changing but rarely do they get the source of a problem.

Even if you do get the time to do some proper discovery, good analytical skills of the sort needed to splice together many different sources of data are not easy to come by, and are generally not possessed by your every day Contact Centre management team. The result is that many organisations hire teams of financial analysts who take away the data, drop it into spreadsheets, and then a few weeks later they emerge with a report that tells you something that happened last month.

A perpetual guessing game against out of date spreadsheets really can’t be the way to run a multi-million, customer-facing investment, but for so many organisations that run Contact Centres, that’s BAU.

So what to do?

The Business Intelligence (BI) market has some amazing tools. They are well-established, proven, and backed by armies of men in grey suits with PhDs. Great empires have been built on them (Jim Goodnight, who built and owns probably the most technically advanced analytical vendor, The SAS Institute, is reputedly worth around seven billion dollars). But when you get started, how long before they actually deliver return on the not insubstantial investment? Even if you have the licence to use the products in your company already, what do these vendors know about running a Contact Centre? Not a lot. They can dazzle you with number wizardry that would make Dumbledore look like a remedial student, but the vast amount of customisation required to even get to first base really just doesn’t make good financial or operational sense. And even then, could they take you significantly upstream of your current measurement of KPIs?

(Read Part II next week).


(Posted originally on and the Datapoint blog).

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