Big Data Comes To The Call Center

Call centers are a great place to start to use your big data tools
Call centers are a great place to start to use your big data tools
Image Credit: King County, WA

By now everyone who has the CIO job has heard about “big data”. What this is all about is using modern analytical tools to process very large amounts of data in order to identify trends and opportunities for the business that were previously unknown. The IT department plays a leading role in the big data revolution because we are the ones who are keeping all of the data and we are responsible for purchasing and using the tools that will allow us to process that data. This is all well and fine, but once you have these shiny new tools, where is the best place to apply them? It turns out that the answer to this question just might be the call center.

Why The Call Center Is Ripe For Big Data Processing

All too often IT can overlook the company’s call center. No matter if this is a function that is handled in-house or if the company has outsourced it, the call center is where a great deal of the company’s contact with its customers occurs. What this means is that any data that can be collected about how those contacts go is very valuable indeed. Knowing this, the person in the IT position needs to take charge and do some investigation.

Collecting data from a call center is something that is probably already being done at most companies. Call centers already have numerous systems in place to collect quantitative data. This type of data includes such things as number of calls received, call length, average hold time, and resolution rate. The problem with collecting this data is that it is pretty much all agent and efficiency related. That’s good stuff, but it’s not going to tell the company anything about the people who are calling.

Right now there is a revolution going on inside of most call centers. In order to save money and become more efficient, call center agents are being asked to handle a wider variety of issues and interact with customers using a greater number of channels. These channels can now include social media and online forums. What this means for the company is the old way of collecting call center data is no longer going to work in this new world.

What Big Data Can Create From Call Center Data

This is where the importance of information technology comes in to play. Clearly a single data center has the ability to produce a great deal of recorded data on a daily basis. Your job as a CIO is to create the systems and the processes that are going to be able to take that big data and gain insights into what the company’s customers really want.

One of the ultimate goals of applying big data technology to the call center is to provide the customer agents with more information when they start to have a discussion with a customer who has called in. What you would like your big data systems to be able to do in real time is to let the customer agent know what the customer’s mood is and to provide them with the information that they are going to need in order to ensure that the customer has a good experience.

One of the big changes that the big data tools can bring to a call center is their ability to work with a variety of different types of data. What this means for you as the CIO is that you can apply your big data tools to the primarily text-based interactions that agents are having with the company’s customers. With the right set of big data tools you’ll be able to analyze your agent’s call records, identify what your customer’s real concerns are, highlight emerging trends and patterns, and generate early-warnings of issues that may become significant problems.

What All Of This Means For You

As a CIO you have probably heard a lot of the chatter that has been going on in IT circles lately about “big data”. The idea is simple, use modern analytical tools to process very large data sets; however, what data to use in order to get real world results that the company can use has always been a bit of a mystery. It turns out that the company’s call center offers you a great place to start to apply your new big data skills.

Call centers already collect a great deal of data. However, currently their data is internally focused – agent efficiency and process optimization. Using big data analytical techniques you can start to comb through all of the data that the call center is producing on a daily basis. This will allow the company to analyze new text-based customer interactions and spot trends.

Big data provides your company with a great deal of new opportunities. Just exactly what all of those opportunities are is not currently known. However, it’s clear that applying big data tools to call centers can produce immediate results. Take your time, select the right sets of data to analyze, and make the IT department’s use of Big Data tools payoff for the company.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you might uncover any bad news for the company when you process the call center data?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

CIOs everywhere are being overwhelmed with talk about “big data”. This is simply using IT systems and tools to process very large data sets in order to answer questions about how best to run the company. What used to be too big of a task for anyone to attempt has become doable with new tools and techniques allowing us to harness the importance of information technology. However, it turns out that just having all the data is not enough – you actually have to know what to do with it.