Cracking the Big Data Nut in the Contact Center

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Big data used to be thought of as being solely in the domain of technology giants such as IBM and Oracle, kept somewhere inside massive data centers. While these companies do provide such back-end technology, the concept of big data has trickled down to more manageable bites—and bytes—for the contact center.

To be sure,the term "big data" has been criticized for being overused and overhyped, but when it comes to the contact center, big data is being seen as a new ally to win customers and influence potential churners.

Big Data's Role in the Contact Center

In a nutshell, big data that is used in the contact center is about gathering information from disparate sources, consolidating it, and making it available to agents in as close to real time as possible.

Big data can come from several sources, including CRM systems, various types of analytics, workforce optimization software, surveys, social media, and more. In return, big data can offer myriad benefits for the contact center, such as providing next best actions, understanding context, and predicting customer needs.

Reed Henry, chief marketing officer at Genesys, says that big data comes down to gathering the minutia of what the customer has done in the past and consolidating that into one single project. "Customers leave a dust trail that tells their story," he says. Such data can help companies understand and predict customer behavior and gives them the opportunity to provide a more proactive experience.

"The benefit is all about understanding what journey customers are on and what their intent is," he says. "That's always in the context of where they're coming from, where they are, and where they want to go."

Using Big Data as Part of a Multichannel Strategy

With the rise of multichannel service in the contact center world, capturing, analyzing, and acting on information from big data becomes even more important. Problems occur not just in silos, such as a Web site, but in other areas, such as a call center or point of sale, as well.

"The connected customer is looking for a holistic experience across all channels," says Matthew Storm, director of strategy and innovation at NICE Systems. "The customer doesn't see the organization sometimes the way the organization sees [itself]. Bringing all these channels together in a common place and being proactive and preventative can be a problem."

Elizabeth Herrell, founder and president of Communication Initiatives and a vice president and principal analyst with Constellation Research, agrees that big data is about looking at the entire customer engagement.

"Big data can look at interactions across time and channels and touchpoints and [allows companies to] really understand what the customer is doing and what the context of his actions are," she says. "This way you can predict, for example, who is a very valuable customer and you 

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