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How business intelligence drives contact center efficiency

Posted February 20, 2018
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The digitization of customer support can be a double-edged sword for brands. On the one hand, the trove of information available can improve customer service delivery and operations, but on the other hand, extracting meaning from it requires searching through mountains of data.

“The ability to make informed decisions in real-time by quickly sifting through all the data available is a critical challenge facing call centers,” says Matthew Dabrowski, senior software developer and call center technology expert at Stanley Black & Decker.

That’s why business intelligence (BI) has become such a crucial component of data-driven customer support. BI solutions for contact centers take many forms, however, the common thread is their ability to extrapolate actionable insights from reams of information in mere seconds. This capability positions BI is an exciting tool for contact centers looking to improve customer satisfaction while also boosting operational efficiency.

Leveraging business intelligence to achieve KPIs

One of the many appealing attributes associated with BI in the contact center is the ability to enhance specific customer service key performance indicators (KPIs). “One of my projects called for a system that would capture all of the actions taken by an agent during a call and all of the details from each individual call,” Dabrowski recalls. “Our BI implementation provided a real-time view of trending agent behaviors that affected KPIs but were previously not available to customer experience directors.”

Once contact center leaders gain visibility into how their agents and processes are performing against KPI benchmarks, such as Average Handle Time (AHT) or Average Wait Time (AWT), they can use the insights to inform operational decisions. For example, business intelligence can help identify repetitive and simplistic tasks that could be automated in order to gain service and cost efficiencies.

Using BI to predict staffing demands

Contact center volumes can be unpredictable leading to over or under-staffing. Having too many agents for too few calls will inevitably cost companies money while too few agents leads to longer wait times and frustrated customers, which can irreparably damage a brand.

Fortunately, BI can make data-driven demand predictions that enable better staffing and management planning. “Business intelligence allows us to provide more efficient service to our customers, but we also see efficiency gains in wages by having customer service reps available at the right time to support the fluctuating level of demand,” says Rebecca Barrons, director of staffing, customer quality and revenue at Southwest Airlines.

Similarly, Dabrowski says BI solutions can uncover recurring variations in contact center volume — and therefore agent utilization — by analyzing trends in data that were previously ignored or inaccessible. “By discovering that call volume increases dramatically on Mondays or following a marketing campaign, staffing levels can be preemptively modified to handle the additional anticipated volume,” he observes.

Monitoring these trends and more can turn a reactive contact center manager into a proactive one, enabling them to plan agent staffing in a way that saves money without sacrificing service quality.

Frontline agent engagement

Adding business intelligence to your customer service strategy has a number of associated operational and cost benefits, but it can also help with the human aspects of customer support.

Mohamed Latib is the CEO and co-founder of CX University, which helps train brands on leveraging BI to improve customer experience operations. Latib predicts that every single contact center will have some form of back-end BI infrastructure in the near future. “You can use BI insights to build a strategy that accentuates the human touch provided by your agents, rather than seek to replace it,” he advises.

For Barrons at Southwest, business intelligence also shines a light on trends, areas of focus and professional development opportunities for their agents to grow. “It gives us the opportunity to look at employee engagement, as well as rewards,” she says. “With business intelligence, we can answer questions like: ‘Who is our top-performing agent in revenue generation? Customer satisfaction? Call metrics?’”

In that spirit, Southwest has evolved Employee of the Month to Employee of the Moment. By singling out these individuals utilizing BI analytics, Southwest can provide their agents with real-time feedback and rewards.

Demand planning, agent engagement and intelligent automation are just a few of the ways that business intelligence tools are helping contact centers optimize efficiencies. However, as BI technology adoption grows, it’s important not to lose sight of the people who humanize customer service operations.

Latib advises companies to keep customer empathy and personalization at the heart of all BI initiatives. “The customer data is there. Companies just need to combine it with intelligence to empower call center agents with a 360-degree customer view that will [lead to] an even more personalized experience.”

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