How Human Variability Can Improve Contact Center Performance

With the impact that technology is having on advancing contact center effectiveness, it can be easy to forget that there are real human beings putting this technology to use as they speak with customers, solve product issues, and generate better business results. And those humans, whether they are the agent picking up the phone with a script in hand or the enraged customer calling in with a product issue, can be unpredictable. The term "human variability" refers to the wide variety of human personalities, behaviors, preferences, and abilities, the combination of which makes us so unpredictable.

While unpredictability can be a challenge, human variability can also offer unique advantages when serving customers, especially when coupled with customer insights. Following are three top ways contact centers can combine data and human variability to improve customer engagement and overall contact center performance.

1) Identify Agents' Unique Strengths and Weaknesses

No two people are the same, and when it comes to performance levels, that's a good thing. Just look at your favorite sports team. While some players excel at throwing a ball the farthest, you still need the fast-running player with a poor arm who is great at blocking opponents. The same is true in the contact center.

The ability to identify agent performance levels at different tasks provides us with a great opportunity to prioritize agent strengths while mitigating the risks of their weaknesses. By analyzing customer-agent interaction data and call resolution results, contact center managers can determine which agents are best at particular tasks. From there, managers can prioritize routing of customer calls so that agents handle calls in the areas where they are strongest and spend less time on calls they are less specialized in handling.

2) Use Customer Demographics to Predict Preferences and Behaviors

Another factor intrinsic to humans is our wide variety of product and service preferences. Managers in the contact center can use the data collected from customers to determine key information about them, such as who they are, what they do for a living, and where they live. These demographic factors can be used to predict the way customers will interact with your business, and which products they will want.

A customer in one region might be more likely to complain about a certain aspect of a company's product, or have more of an affinity with an agent with a good performance record with customers from that region. Businesses can track demographic data to predict such things. When you know all of the different ways your customers might react, you can take action to provide them with the best, most tailored service possible.

3) Conduct Proactive Outreach to Increase Satisfaction

Finally, if businesses want to keep their customers happy, they must recognize that human variability means that different customers prefer different levels of interaction. Contact centers today wait for the customer to call with an issue, but by analyzing caller data, contact center managers can determine how to increase satisfaction by providing more communication to some customers. A business might check in with those customers who require higher interaction levels through a product satisfaction survey, a call to see if a customer was happy with her sales representative, or an email asking for feedback on a service provided. By contacting these customers without being prompted, companies have the power to increase overall customer satisfaction. And, of course, the data can then be used to predict what will keep them happy.

While new technology in the contact center provides valuable insights into customer behavior and agent performance, it is also important to remember that we are ultimately collecting and using data from real people rather than predictable, automatic machines. Humans have individual strengths and weaknesses, behaviors, preferences, and attitudes, and while these can be challenging obstacles for contact centers, they can also be a great resource when utilized properly.

Kumaran Ponnambalam is the director of data engineering and professional services at cloud customer engagement analytics provider Transera.

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