Data Quality Is More Important Than Ever, NICE Interactions Day 2 Speakers Contend

The pandemic disrupted business, but it also provided companies with a tremendous opportunity to examine how they are interacting with their customers and to take appropriate steps to improve those interactions, Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, said on the second day of the NICE interactions virtual conference today.

Companies will rely on data for those examinations, but they need to ensure the quality of the data is excellent, speakers maintained during a panel.

"Data quality and data integration are the same," said Barb Bleiler, a data solutions architect for Rock County, Wis. "You have to know what goes into the numbers, and you have to be comfortable that the numbers are right. You have to know how you are going to use those numbers for the decisions that you are going to make."

Bleiler also said it's important that different people within the organization interpret numbers the same way to avoid confusion.

Claudine Halek, vice president and quality assurance manager at Morgan Stanley, added that companies shouldn't rely on just one set of data, but instead should integrate different data sets to get a more complete picture of customers or whatever else they are examining.

Collecting the data isn't enough, Halek added. "You have to do some type of analysis. Analytics can help you focus on the important things in your business."

"There's so much data available. You have to choose what you are going to measure," cautioned Matt Wilber. Total Administrative Services' customer care supervisor of quality assurance. Leaving those measurements in numerical form is fine for many, but his company had better reactions from agents and supervisors by using the numbers to provide color indicators of customer service agent performance. The color coding enables quicker interpretation of performance and reactions to subpar performance than the numbers alone.

Much of this change was underway already, but the COVID-19 pandemic sped them along, speakers argued.

The pandemic accelerated many other contact center changes--ones that were expected to happen anyway but at a much slower pace, according to Fluss.

"Business has gone virtual," she said. "Those with a great online presence have done extremely well. Target has been strong the last couple of quarters. They have a strong online presence."

Critical for these companies have been simplified sales processes, Fluss added. "The simpler the better."

Another recent change that has torn through the contact center industry is an increased recognition of social responsibility and the push for living wages, Fluss added. "We are seeing some companies asking [outsourcers] to pay a living wage, even though it will increase the client company's costs."

However, cost reduction can come from offering consumers improved self-service options, which most of them prefer anyway, according to Fluss. Typically, customers want to talk to an agent as a last result, though there was a shift to a heavier call volume early in the pandemic because many people stuck at home were seeking other human contact, she said.

But the biggest change was that not only were customers at home, so was nearly all of the contact center workforce. Before the pandemic, only 5 percent of contact center employees worked remotely, according to Fluss.