• March 18, 2010
  • By Mariano Tan, VP, professional services, TeleTech

Analyze Your Interactions

Creating "satisfied customers" is an obvious organizational goal. But what happens when tried and true logic and experience doesn't correlate with retention and sales? The savviest of companies are learning that it's time to replace art with science.

Companies that examine customer/supplier relationships using interaction analysis see their operations through the fresh eyes of their customers. This framework for organizing and delivering enterprise performance uses methodologies, processes and metrics to get to the heart of the customer experience: the point of contact between the customer and the company. Interaction analysis addresses important organizational questions including:

  • Do we understand customers' needs?
  • Are we responsive to customers' priorities?
  • Are customers' needs successfully met on a consistent basis?

Companies that apply measurements to extract intelligence and build meaningful correlations have the opportunity to discover what variables most affect customer satisfaction and the company's bottom line. What do customers really want? What will make the customer personally identify with the company? What will make the customer recommend the company?

Data versus intuition

Organizations that embrace interaction analysis ensure that each interaction brings value to both the customer and the organization. This is integral to increasing loyalty and retention. One major telecommunications provider worked with contact center experts to evaluate a dozen customer service activities using interaction analysis. The statistically supported recommendations found only two activities had any measurable impact on customer satisfaction. Managers were able to correlate operational activities with specific, measurable results. They redirected their efforts and resources accordingly, boosting satisfaction ratings by several percentage points.

Companies sometimes feel they have already tried everything to improve customer operations. Again, modeling behaviors after statistically relevant data allows companies to implement the right performance-improvement methodology. A cable provider made numerous efforts to improve customer satisfaction feedback related to outages.

By reviewing results analytically, the provider realized that outages are inherently negative events and can't be eliminated. Satisfaction, however, can be influenced by altering the protocol for handling outages. The provider impacted customer satisfaction by making minor adjustments to associate training. Using analytics, they also learned they were overinvesting in the issue. Outage dissatisfaction represented less than a two percent impact on overall customer satisfaction.

  • Application - What was the associate's knowledge of the bank's specific application?
  • Business knowledge - What was their knowledge of the overall banking business?
  • Soft skills - What protocols, including language idioms, were used in handling bank clients?

No single area was found to be more important than another, but issues in all three areas could accelerate the overall negative impact by as much as 35 points. Training refocused on the total customer experience, and today satisfaction scores are higher than before outsourcing.

More than one way to measure

Interaction analysis hinges on the customer's perception of how the call time is used. It can be separated into five segments:

  1. Salutation
  2. Problem resolution
  3. Closure

Although all components of the call are important, callers are most interested in problem resolution. Call time is better measured by the average minutes to resolution rather than by the total length of the call. Speech analytics is an excellent tool to break down call components into meanings and patterns to identify and understand customer needs.

Speech analytics and speech mining are advancing interaction analytics to the next level. With potential to extract critical business intelligence by analyzing a speaker's gender, identity, and emotions along with key words or phrases, these tools empower decision-makers to offer timely resolutions that might have gone undetected.

Customer feedback research should go beyond customer-facing individuals. One technology company surveyed 1,000 customers and found associates lacked the training and expertise needed to properly diagnose issues and spent unnecessary time trying to replace parts that, 40 percent of the time, weren't actually broken. By moving this function to non-customer facing employees, the initial call-handling time was reduced by three minutes. Problem resolution and satisfaction increased while costs declined.

The bottom line

Using the science of interaction analytics and its many tools, contact center practitioners and customers benefit by:

  • achieving insight into customer relationships,
  • enriching product and services offerings,
  • reducing costs, and
  • obtaining a firm grasp of process and organizational improvements that employees can support.

Organizations that embrace interaction analysis to improve performance use sound, data-based decision-making strategies that can be directly tied to customer satisfaction and create a significant competitive advantage.

About the Author

As the vice president of professional services at TeleTech, Mariano Tan (marianotan@teletech.com) provides situational assessment, strategic planning, and implementation services for dozens of world-class companies. An industry veteran, Tan has developed and implemented strategies covering CRM systems, marketing, service, and retention for 15 years. An internationally recognized speaker who developed and published a unique methodology for valuing and prioritizing business initiatives, Tan holds a master's and a bachelor's degree in computer science from California State University.


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For the rest of the March 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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