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Using data for customer service can be easy and affordable

When most people think of "big data," they picture technicians and analysts in office buildings crunching numbers. The common perception of the analytics movement is abstract - much of the progress is taking place behind closed doors, and the specifics are largely unknown.

There's great potential, though, for the movement toward more data to affect customers directly. One of the best ways for companies to apply all the information in their databases is to improve the customer service experience.

Many firms have large clusters of data and have dedicated customer service departments looking to improve. The next step is bridging the gap, using solutions that translate all that customer knowledge into results.

Paul White, chief executive officer of multi-channel contact center firm MPLSystems, is one innovator looking to connect data with customers. White's company recently released a new software solution that mines data on a business' customers and uses a comprehensive dashboard to deliver key information to consumer care agents in real time.

"Big data is all about bringing together a broad range of data sets, analyzing them cost-effectively and then delivering the results to where they can be most useful," White told Call Centre Clinic. "Feeding big data into the intelligent agent desktop mix makes smart sense for organizations looking to deliver greater personalization and stronger customer engagement."

Quality is a factor
One of the ways that big data can improve customer service is by cutting down on unnecessary and erroneous communication between firms and consumers. Take email, for instance - it's a valuable tool for reaching out to people because it's quick and efficient. The flip side is that there's no better way to alienate a potential customer than sending spam.

Data quality can play a pivotal role in doing away with spam emails. If a person appears twice in a company's database, for example, that could lead to him or her receiving multiple emails and becoming aggravated with the sender. Alternatively, someone could only get one email, but it could be addressed to them with a misspelled name, or sent to an old, outdated email account. In any of the above scenarios, the customer is likely to become disillusioned with the brand in question.

Big data has the potential to transform the customer experience. It can help companies connect with people better not only face-to-face, but electronically as well - but only if it's used responsibly.