Turning Customer Interaction Data into a Competitive Advantage

Most contact centers use interaction data to justify or support contact center metrics, such as average call handle time, speed of answer, abandonment and even first call resolution.

But when you think about it, doesn’t it make more sense to capture data at the event and interaction level? This would allow for much more powerful analysis, as well as the ability to think outside the standard box of metrics every legacy system provides.

It’s actually very difficult to turn even excellent performance in most standard contact center metric categories into a sustainable competitive advantage.

In this blog, we will look at how one well-known company’s use of customer interaction data has become a key part of their success.

A Modern-Day Romance: Big Data and Customer Journey

It’s hard to escape noticing the trend categorically described as Big Data. Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be 26 billion common household devices with the capability to being connected and sharing data. If you really think about it, it kind of starts to get a little unnerving. So, our advice is … don’t think about it!

Not only is data being tracked in aggregate, but it’s being tracked by businesses in the context of trying to understand your journey or your customer experience.

In the past, companies primarily focused on delivering their customers a tangible good or service. But why wasn’t this sustainable? If your market was attractive, then someone somewhere was working on delivering it better and cheaper.

Companies then began focusing on our “relationship”. Today, most organizations are focused on customer experience or the customer journey. But it’s different than the relationship and loyalty concept. It’s based on the concept of the “experience economy”, which started in the early 2000’s, but really has emerged as the guiding principle for customer service organizations. If you want some background, read this Harvard Business Review article “Welcome to the Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine and James H Gilmore.

The reality is – most organizations have more information than they know what to do with.

Now Playing: Netflix

Let’s look at Netflix and how they leverage their customer information to enhance the customer experience. The upstart was one of the main factors that drove Blockbuster to bankruptcy; even though, Blockbuster seemed to have all the advantages. Blockbuster at its peak was a $5B company; Netflix was started with $2.5M in startup cash. And today, according to some, it is worth in the neighborhood of $68B!

What made Blockbuster disposable was the fact they were focused on the rental transaction and were not focused on customer experience. Blockbuster had the opportunity to collect our interaction data – but they didn’t.

On the other hand, Netflix did something with each customer interaction. They tracked what customers liked and made suggestions. And they got better and better. Blockbuster only had a loyalty program, something like a free rental every 10 times.

It wasn’t just about the streaming technology. Yes, it was a threat, but Blockbuster had the financial resources to build it or buy it. They failed by allowing Netflix to create a competitive advantage of customer interaction intelligence. Netflix leveraged this intelligence to delight customers, by personalizing each and every customer experience.

So, Where Do We Go from Here?

The key is creating a company culture that does not focus solely on tasks. And the first step is to see if you have any system or data silos to be able to know your customer’s interactions.

The key to overcoming all barriers is to focus on the fact that the contact center is the front line of the customer experience. Typically, it is a key nexus to capturing the interaction data that can be leveraged strategically.

Contact centers should push the organization to view the contact center as strategic. Setting the stage that customer experience has to be viewed with an eye toward making the customer’s life better is every bit as important as making the contact center’s life better.

The key lies in making the connection between the customer interaction data, transforming that into valuable information and leveraging that to improve every customer interaction.

In today’s world, simply satisfying customers will not retain them. By turning data into insights, contact centers can personalize each interaction to deliver a little extra to delight them. And this what creates a real competitive advantage.