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Is the customer service industry making the most of data collection?

Richard Jones Archive

In recent years, it's come to light that data quality is an important component of reliable customer service. For large companies with thousands of customers, it becomes difficult to gauge all of their opinions without having hefty banks of reliable data on people's thoughts. Of course, this data must be highly accurate, or else companies run the risk of making operational mistakes based on invalid information.

It can be difficult for call centers to manage all of the knowledge passing through their walls every day, though. According to 1to1 Media, many companies suffer from the problem of data overload. They're taking in so much information that they don't know how to adequately verify it, store it and put it all to use.

This is especially difficult considering the numerous channels that companies use for collecting customer service data. Phone calls made to consumer care centers are still a valuable resource, but they're now far from the only one. If some data is being collected over the phone, but more is also flowing in through Web forms, Facebook conversations and countless other avenues, how can companies keep all of their knowledge uniform and accurate? The goal is to value all of this data equally and turn all of it into actionable conclusions.

The alarming findings
1to1 Media published the results of a recent report from WhitePages, entitled "A Wow Customer Journey: Actionable Data in Today's Multichannel Contact Center." In its research, the International Customer Management Institute polled 542 contact center professionals and discovered that more than 25 percent of them currently suffer from the data overload problem. Additionally, 60 percent are failing to effectively deliver customer service information to agents.

Customer service expert Anna Papachristos believes that companies can overcome this problem by using the proper tools and giving their consumer care agents a little bit of guidance.

"If companies do indeed recognize the connection between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, then they must actively seek to integrate the platforms and strategies necessary for improved performance," Papachristos stated. "In most cases, agents possess the ability to provide sufficient customer care, but they lack the tools needed for proper execution.

"With so much data entering the organization from an array of channels, agents require internal systems that allow them to access customer data in real time to promote efficiency and boost customer experience."

Balancing the right sources
One of the most significant factors complicating customer service is the fact that consumer care agents are often juggling multiple interfaces for collecting data. The ICMI found that 69 percent of agents are constantly navigating multiple screens, and 49 percent are asking each caller for basic contact information at multiple points during an interaction.

This means the possibility for a data quality error will increase exponentially. If a stressed, overworked customer service agent inputs the same person's data twice and makes one typo, he or she will have inconsistent records that will be impossible to decipher later.

Furthermore, the ICMI notes that 25 percent of agents struggle with having to constantly learn new technology. This only complicates the problem.

Collecting the right data
Companies also need to make sure they're collecting the most relevant data pertaining to their customers. According to the ICMI's findings, call centers have isolated a few key data points. Currently, they're focusing most on average handle time (79 percent), abandonment rate (75 percent) and average speed of answer (72 percent). This may change as consumers' tastes evolve.

It's important that no matter what metrics they emphasize, companies focus on data quality in customer service. Accurate information can make the difference between a reliable call center and an embarrassing mishap.

For more information on improving data quality for customer service, check out this infographic.