Most contact center operatorstraditional vendors like TeleTech, Teleperfomance, and Aegis, as well as newer cloud-based providers like RightNow and Kana are implanting emerging call center analytics that bring together real-time and historical dataÂto isolate revenue-related calls, identify agent best practices, predict root causes of their dissatisfaction, or identify what characteristics of a contact lead to costly repeat calls, says Magilocca.
Machine learning could revolutionize the call center, as well. Everyone who's ever called a help line has a horror story of being stuck in some seventh level of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) hell. "Being able to respond to customer requests in an automated manner, but without disagreeable and confusing IVRs, could be a huge boon for companies," says Filippone. "Products like IBM's Watson could one day replace traditional linear-thinking IVRs."
ISG's Magilocca is also keeping an eye on e-learning systems that can proactively determine a call center employee's biggest professional hang-ups by analyzing her responses to customer inquiries and suggests training modules to improve performance.
Not all the new applications are big-ticket items. Low-cost social media listening tools are enabling contact center managers to actively search words and phrases on Twitter to identify brewing customer complaints or global issue
Change management will be a big issue in the integration of the new systems and processes. The more sophisticated analysis must actually deliver more than the more rudimentary analyses of the recent past. "Contact centers already have rich data and basic analytical capabilities. New solutions have to be proven better, otherwise the advanced analytics will be dismissed as too 'fuzzy,' says Filippone.
Companies will also have to figure how to effectively use the information they generate. "The analytics have to drive action, not just insight," Filippone says. "It isn't enough to count issues and score sentiment; new solutions have drive agent behavior change or transformations of CRM strategies."
If there's no hard return in short order, investment in new systems could be short lived. The customer contact industry remains hyper focused on the bottom line. "Buyers have to be confident that analytics will take out costs or identify new sales opportunities," says Filippone.
Stephanie Overby is regular contributor to CIO.com's IT Outsourcing section.
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Read more about customer relationship management (CRM) in CIO's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Drilldown.