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Analytics & Transformation in CMS: What’s Really Happening?

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Two common themes in the marketing collateral of vendors providing Customer Management Services (CMS) are the use of analytics and transformation. 

For analytics, a popular claim is the use of big data for predictive modeling within contact centers. But is it really happening? The reality is that, while certain vendors are using data for simple predictive modeling, this is still a distinct differentiator among vendors and there is significant room for improvement. It is simply too early to claim that vendors are systematically using big data for predictive modeling.

An example highlighting this is a contract with a telco in which big data (including multi-channel contact history, lifestyle information from social media channels, information from third-party reference agencies, and customer local data such as weather and news reports), are simultaneously displayed via infographics and text to an agent’s desktop to help the agent better understand the consumer’s needs, build greater rapport and, in revenue generation contracts, retain, up-sell and cross-sell to a greater degree. However, in terms of predictive analytics, the data presented to the agent suggesting offers for the customer is based only on previous spend history and does not combine all of the above-mentioned big data sources.

So, are real-time analytics solutions currently being used in contact centers to either change agent behavior or provide customized offers to consumers?

While there are some interesting real-time analytics applications currently being used, this is limited at present. One example is a platform that analyses offshore agents’ rate of speech and displays the ‘sweet spot’ for this via an avatar on the agent’s desktop. This is done in real-time and assists with rapport-building with customers through the NLP technique of matching and mirroring.

Another innovation being piloted is a voice analytics platform that tracks a consumer’s words, phrases, and voice stress levels. These can then be used for compliance and industry-specific regulatory requirements in outbound campaigns, whereby a prompt appears in real-time on an agent’s desktop to recite a compliance statement, or proactively offer to remove a customer from a calling list if the customer is becoming stressed.

The move to using this type of real-time analytics for personalized offers and promotions is underway, but it will be a while before it is widespread.

Another common claim from CMS vendors is their ability to deliver transformation in their client contracts. What is the reality?

There has been a shift in recent years in how CMS transformation is delivered. When CMS was largely about agent numbers, a vendor would look to incentivize agents, improve training, and look to hire more skilled agents, in order to improve service delivery and reduce costs.

Then, about five years ago, there was a big shift: multi-channel, analytics, and social media became the new transformational levers, and are now considered an essential part of CMS delivery, though by no means have these yet reached maturity. Also, now that agents have access to increasingly complex customer data, and customers are now only interacting across live agent channels for high-complexity queries, the quality of the agent delivering this service is vitally important. Therefore, most of the transformation we are now seeing revolves around the HR aspect of service delivery. Training complexity and length is increasing, with many vendors now adopting a continuous agent learning and development scheme within their operations. And with the additional training investments vendors are now making, attrition is becoming even more costly; hiring agents who are more likely to deliver a high quality service, and stay with the company, is now more important than ever.

Hence, behavioral-based hiring methods are now been used in transformational deals over traditional skills-based hiring approaches. These methods are able to identify agents who might not have all of the required skills, but who have the correct mindset with which to learn and improve, and are more resilient. This type of hiring approach is already proving to reduce attrition levels and improve initial KPI adherence.

In summary, there’s no shortage of big claims from CMS vendors about the extent and effectiveness of their offerings in the areas of analytics and transformation. And big changes are happening in both areas, but not always quite as the vendors would have you believe.

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