The Transformational Value of Interaction Analytics
INTERACTION ANALYTICS (IA) has proven its worth and benefits in the best and worst of times. The companies that used IA during the pandemic had a major advantage because of the visibility it provided into company performance. This analytics application helped enterprise and contact center executives navigate uncharted territory by giving them information and insights to keep them apprised of the state of their customers and employees. The data enabled them to determine the actions necessary to keep their workers safe, sustain brand reputation and loyalty, adjust to an accelerating digital economy, and remain relevant in the midst of unprecedented challenges.
IA PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO THE VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER
Voice-of-the-customer applications, also known as surveying solutions, ask customers how they feel about specific situations, but they can be used on only a limited basis, provided people respond at all. There are times, as was the case during the pandemic, when it’s inappropriate to survey customers, which left companies in the dark when they had no other way of tracking and measuring the customer experience.
As IA is a passive application that gathers information about customers without imposing on them to answer questions, it can be relied upon in all situations, giving companies the information they require so that they can rapidly pivot in response to changing customer needs.
IA YIELDS BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
Companies need a constant flow of insights into customer needs and wants, as well as information about how well employees are performing on an ongoing basis. The ideal scenario is to receive real-time inputs that can be used to alter outcomes during customer interactions, along with historical data to analyze results and identify patterns and opportunities to improve the company’s performance, whether its products, services, employees, partners, or systems. Interaction analytics is the only application that can provide this variety of information. Sophisticated IA solutions deliver both real-time and historical insights that, when properly analyzed and applied, deliver the enterprise-level findings that corporations expect from business intelligence (BI) solutions.
A unique and highly beneficial aspect of IA is its ability to address voice and digital channels and put together a comprehensive story of the customer experience (CX). Looking at feedback in each channel has always been important, but gaining visibility into what is happening across channels and enterprise business units is essential to understanding the overall customer journey. This is becoming even more important as activity in digital channels picks up momentum as a result of digital transformation.
IA FACILITATES TRANSITION TO THE NEW WORK WORLD
The business world has been transformed by the events of the past year, but the changes would have happened in any case at some point in the near future. Companies that were putting off their digital transformations experienced a harsh wake-up call, and those that responded appropriately are positioning themselves to compete in a changed business world. Companies need to be able to conduct business in an increasingly virtual and digital environment, as this is what their customers expect. Intelligent self-service is becoming the preferred channel, placing pressure on companies to transition from outdated interactive voice response systems and websites to AI-based omnichannel intelligent virtual agents.
Work-from-home is here to stay, even in contact centers, although it is not the preferred staffing approach of many enterprise executives. Companies that try to return to pre-pandemic practices are going to find themselves at a major disadvantage and struggle more than they did in the past. The competition for agents will become fierce as these valuable resources find opportunities around the country and possibly the world, as digital transformations and increased enterprise agility eliminate geographical limitations on hiring.
Interaction analytics is the only enterprise BI tool that provides visibility and oversight into the performance of an increasingly hybrid and distributed workforce. This enterprise-class tool is also unique in its ability to understand and analyze voice and digital customer interactions in multiple languages, including situations where customers (or agents) switch from one language to another. Additionally, IA provides real-time alerts and next-best-action guidance to agents regardless of where they are based, which becomes even more important with remote employees, who cannot ask for help from the person sitting next to them or flag down a supervisor.
IA BENEFITS THE CONTACT CENTER
While IA should not be owned by or the sole responsibility of the contact center or customer service department, its findings ought to be applied to these customer-facing departments, just as they are to other functions throughout an enterprise. Interaction analytics should be used to perform a modified form of quality management called analytics (or automated) quality management (AQM). The use of automation and artificial intelligence to evaluate agent performance is the difference between AQM and the traditional QM process that has been used in contact centers for four decades. IA more accurately identifies customer insights and employee opportunities, with significantly less effort. AQM should replace traditional QM and be applied to as much as 100 percent of customer interactions to determine if agents are doing their jobs properly by accurately responding to what they’ve been asked for (in all voice and digital channels) with appropriate soft skills, including empathy. Interaction analytics should also be used together with robotic process automation solutions to audit 100 percent of financial transactions performed by agents.
IA HELPS CREATE AN AGILE ENTERPRISE
There is a growing recognition that enterprise CX and customer journey programs produce a limited view of customer performance. In some organizations this is because the contact center is not invited to share its information or there is no way of incorporating it into the analysis. Sometimes it’s because customer behavior is mapped through only some of the touchpoints. In other cases, it is because the organization is limited to examining what happens in its voice channel only.
It’s clear that there is a major opportunity to improve how the customer experience is captured and analyzed in a large percentage of companies. And this is where IA shines, as it has demonstrated during the pandemic. Customers expect the companies they do business with to be agile and responsive to their needs and are frequently disappointed, as is reflected in the increasing volume of complaints. As part of digital transformation, companies must change the way they measure customer perception and institute a culture of “customer first.” The reason why this is not yet happening in many companies is because they don’t have the tools to capture and track information about customers’ needs and wants. Organizations that want to keep abreast of customer and employee issues and opportunities and be positioned to be responsive and agile need interaction analytics.
Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is highly regarded as one of the foremost experts on contact centers and the back office, and specializes in digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and automation. With 30 years of experience helping organizations build highly effective operating environments and assisting vendors in delivering competitive solutions, Fluss created DMG Consulting to deliver unparalleled and unbiased research, analysis, and consulting services. Fluss is a renowned speaker, author, and source for industry and business publications. She can be reached at Donna.Fluss@dmgconsult.com.