Harnessing Big Data in the Contact Center: A Slow but Worthwhile Struggle

K. Landoline
K. Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Contact centers have been dealing with the ‘big data’ issue for years as they strive to develop the elusive 360-degree view of the customer across an assortment of structured and unstructured data collected from billions of customer interactions each year.
  • Despite a long history of dealing with big data, there has been little progress in utilizing the information to optimize operations in most contact centers, and thanks to a lack of centralized management capabilities, data silos continue to be a major hindrance to the development of the ‘intelligent enterprise.’

Managers dealing with contact centers on a daily basis are perplexed with the industry’s sudden fixation with big data since they have been obsessed with the issue for more than thirty years in their voice call centers.  Now, the shift to the multichannel contact center, through which recorded phone calls, e-mails, faxes, Web chats, social media, and survey feedback data flow, makes the challenge even more complex and unwieldy.  How to deal with the volume, velocity, and variety of data moving through the multichannel contact center today and use the information to improve enterprise operations is a discussion worth having if we ever hope to reach the dream of the much-discussed ‘intelligent enterprise.’

Call recording provides a great example of the problems associated with big data issues in contact centers.  Contact center managers record hundreds of millions of calls a year, yet most industry trackers would agree that less than one-tenth of one percent of these recordings are ever played back and listened to by managers, making this valuable collection of customer intelligence useless in optimizing customer experience levels and improving contact center operational results.  It has taken decades, but today, speech analytics technology from companies such as Aurix (now Avaya), CallMiner, Nexidia, NICE Systems, Utopy, and Verint Systems offers software to automate the mining of customer transaction information from these recordings to turn the contents into usable business information.  This is a big initial step in the management and improved usage of big data in the contact center.  Likewise, other technology advances in the areas of contact center analytics and optimization and social media, chat, e-mail, and customer survey capture and analytics have made progress in utilizing other contact center media flows by turning them into usable intelligence in the creation of the intelligent enterprise in which every bit of intelligence contributes to better performance, providing a 360-view of the customer across contact center operations.

Although contact center managers may have a longer history of dealing with big data than other areas of the enterprise, their success in harnessing big data has been relatively limited thus far.  After decades of little progress, the technology to improve this situation is just now arriving on the scene.  Leading edge customer care centers are implementing these solutions today, yet it may be several years, if not decades, before the majority of contact centers will be reaping the rewards of investments in these technologies.  The good news is that the developing business for contact center vendors represents a large growth opportunity for providers of contact center technology, and the ROI for centers investing in these big data analysis technologies is proving to be very attractive.  Using the contact center as a guide, IT managers who research and invest in emerging analytics and management technologies early in the game will be the most successful in taking control of big data issues and capitalizing on its opportunities more quickly, to the benefit of the entire enterprise.

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