Free Your Mind: The Call Center

As we embark on a pivotal year for the analytics industry, I want to kick off the first newsletter of 2015 by shedding some light on a few next-level concepts that can be applied beyond the digital channel. Mastering the tracking and measurement of your digital channel is the key to unlocking an unbelievable amount of value in the other realms of your business. One of the other realms that seem to go highly neglected is the call center. In a world so concerned with the customer journey, you are leaving money on the table by not including call center optimization in your 2015 plans.

The goal is, and has always been, to get the right data to the right people, in the right format, at the right time. This mantra couldn’t be truer for the call center - where your reps interact in real-time with customers experiencing issues, interested in learning more, or looking to complete a purchase. In that moment, it is important to ensure that the reps have all the information at their disposal to provide excellent customer service to ultimately create happy, value-generating customers.

Our first call center project at Stratigent came to us back in 2008. The client, who is still a client today, simply wanted to integrate some digital information about individuals that logged into the site or individuals that had clicked through an email into their CRM. Since a digital tracking framework already existed, a User ID was collected when a customer logged in and a Subscriber ID was collected when a customer clicked through an email link. However, that data had not yet been integrated into the CRM. As we embarked on the integration, these two IDs became the “common keys” for the integration. Ultimately, a nightly export of the data broken down by one (or both) of those IDs was imported into the CRM for use by the call center reps beginning the next morning. Simple, yet efficient - I would call this the “crawl” phase of call center optimization.
We like to look at evolution for our clients from the lens of a simple mantra: Crawl, Walk, Run. Now that I have outlined a “crawl” scenario, I’d like to pick up the pace and cover a few “walk” and “run” concepts:
  • Measurement
  • Personalization
  • Monetization
Historically, call center data has been collected in a variety of silos, whether it is the CRM, an internal data warehouse or a custom call center platform. However, with the ongoing maturation of call center platforms comes the advent of web-based platforms. If the solution is web-based, then you have the ability to think a little outside-of-the-box when it comes to tracking the call center application. 
A web-based technology will allow for you to deploy a Tag Management system and, ultimately, all of your analytics technology. This effectively makes the call center application an extension of your digital presence instead of a data silo that solely exists within your firewall and internal environment. You will have total control of what data you are sending into your analytics solution and how you tie it all together. In essence, the measurement framework for your “digital presence” would encompass channels such as the web, mobile, social, advertising/media, email, PPC, and the call center.
If your application isn’t web-based, that doesn’t mean you’re up a creek without a paddle. It just means that your integration won’t be in real-time but the same value can still be generated, albeit on a slightly longer runway with the help of some data manipulation and ETL processes. We have clients using both approaches (and even clients that have web-based applications without external network access) and can help you define the right framework to give your business as much insight as possible.
So, you’ve built an optimization program for your business that is tasked with improving the customer experience through a variety of A/B tests, multivariate tests, and content personalization/targeting. At the same time, you have a call center team that is tasked with helping customers mitigate issues they are facing in real-time across your digital presence. Do you see the problem here? How do you effectively ensure that the call center reps know which experience your customers are struggling with if there are a variety of testing and targeting initiatives in action?
A combination of Tag Management and your optimization vendor is the solution to all of your problems. Each variant of content that a user sees on your digital presence can be identified through provided functionality within your optimization tool. This is how many of the web analytics integrations are built for the optimization vendors, as an example. We have worked with several clients to provide a “Version ID” for each page that a customer can provide to the call center rep. With the appropriate digital catalog in their hands, your rep will be able to fully understand the experience your customer is interacting with and ultimately have a better chance at converting that customer.  
Let’s state the obvious: call centers cost money and it would be much cheaper for your business if customers were self-sufficient. While you can continue to improve upon your customer experience based upon the analysis of the data and your optimization efforts, you will not be able to stop people from calling. Furthermore, depending on your business model, you may desire to generate as many calls into the call center as possible. So, the goal needs to be realistic and straightforward: generate as much ROI from the call center as you possibly can and build a framework that will allow you to analyze your effectiveness over time.
Since 2008, we have worked with clients on some of the simple concepts for monetization:
  • Custom phone numbers to identify the source of each call
  • Enhanced reporting on call center success via vendor technologies, such as Invoca
  • Click-to-chat technologies
  • Web-based measurement frameworks for your call center applications
  • Analysis of call center data to understand conversion within that channel as a silo
However, by treating the call center as a customer touch point along the journey to conversion, your monetization struggle ends up looking a lot like trying to understand attribution. If the conversion doesn’t happen on the initial call, what does the rest of that journey look like for your customer? The beauty of a phone call is that you are able to ask for personal information to identify the individual you are speaking with, giving you the ability to tie this dataset to other channels similar to the “crawl” example I provided earlier. Similar to a Voice of Customer comment card on your website, such as OpinionLab, you have the ability to determine what questions you ask and how you store that data for future use via the pre-determined measurement framework.
To truly monetize the call center, however, you must go beyond just measurement. You need to empower the call center reps with the ability to identify the appropriate “talk track” for the conversation based upon what we know about that individual in the moment. Put simply, you need to introduce your optimization program into the call center. Controlled experiments based upon the source phone number, integrated data within the CRM, or data provided at the onset of the call will allow you to truly squeeze the highest possible ROI from every call. Re-marketing becomes a real possibility when you introduce this concept of optimization. For example, wouldn't it be great if the call center rep could know that the customer on the other end of the line has an abandoned cart within their account right now?  
Extending your Mindset
For years, your marketing teams have built personas to drive their marketing mix and the messaging within that mix. By extending your mindset to include the call center as a “digital touch point” you will start to see the customer journey a bit differently. It’s very easy for us to overlook the things that aren’t within our immediate control which is why this particular realm of your business may be leaving a lot of money on the table. I hope that some of these concepts have opened your eyes to the possibilities that can be created for your call centers simply by mastering a measurement framework for your digital presence.
We have an exciting year ahead of us and one that will prove to be the most innovative to date in our industry. Make sure your plans for 2015 are taking all the right aspects of your business into account so you can keep up.
By Bill Bruno
About the Author:

Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.

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