Cracking the Big Data Nut in the Contact Center

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might offer him special offers or discounts because now you know because of his behavior that [this] is a high-probability customer for repeat buys."

Bringing together so many sources of information to see the customer journey does pay off, says Storm.

"When an organization can see the overall picture between touchpoints, then it can handle handoffs between channels," Storm says. "It can then address issues such as reducing volumes between channels."

This can also lessen customers' frustration that might occur when they move between channels.

"I'm satisfied as a customer if I don't have to have those interactions," Storm says. "The organization is happy because it's saved money by avoiding that interaction. If call avoidance and customer satisfaction can be married together, it's a buy-one-get-one-free situation that our industry has never seen before."

Don't Be Overwhelmed by Big Data Technology

Even with such benefits in mind, the idea of corralling millions of pieces of customer information may sound daunting, but consider this: You are probably already deploying some type of big data technology.

"Those investments that companies have made over the years—call it workforce management or workforce optimization or knowledge management—are leveragable," says Dan Miller, senior analyst at Opus Research. "Companies are already investing in big data whether they know it or not. Putting all that stuff together where it's accessible in real time is the story of the optimum use of big data."

Herrell agrees. "Data for analyzing back-office functions and data for marketing is fairly mature," she says. "The contact center is an evolving area and [includes] the intelligent use of big data for improving the customer experience and understanding context through all customer touchpoints."

In a December 2013 study by the International Customer Management Institute, 67 percent of contact centers said that they currently use collected data to manage overall agent performance. But breaking those numbers down even further, just 48 percent said that they use data for targeting improvements in customer satisfaction, and 36 percent don't use big data at all. The survey also found that 25.5 companies felt overwhelmed by aggregating massive amounts of data. Still, experts reiterate that big data projects shouldn't be put off because of fear.

"It's not a technology problem anymore; it's more of an organizational problem," Miller says. "Data is data and bytes are bytes and technologies are refreshing faster than ever before. If you're going to effectively compete, you're going to take advantage of big data."

Big Data Doesn't Have to Mean Big Money

There are also concerns that deploying a big data system will put a serious dent in company coffers, but that doesn't have to be the case.

"Big data investments don't have to require a massive overhaul of a lot of sources of data," Storm says."It can be laid on top of existing 

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