North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 1 Site Performance – Business Intelligence


BI is a set of techniques and tools for the collection and interpretation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business managers and decision-making.

BI technologies can handle large amounts of data both structured and unstructured to assist in identifying and developing new strategic business opportunities. The goal is to make it easy to access large amounts of data and make interpretation simple enough where in the past this data virtually sat untouched.

Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance. BI is the closest thing to a crystal ball! It gives you insights into the future. This “forward-looking” perspective allows you to plan what services you provide and don’t provide in the contact center.

First step is developing BI is creating a strategy. You want to consider the reason why data is being collected. What kinds of decisions will be made from this data and its analysis? What kinds of problems are expected to be resolved? What answers are you looking for? Have the end in mind when you ask yourself these questions.
CEO’s are challenged with accessing all the data their organizations collect and store. Companies collect data on customers in a variety of means and ways. The most common types of data are:
- Sales KPI’s
- Quality Assurance
- Customer Service KPI’s
- Customer Satisfaction
- Accounting
- Inventories

CEO’s and managers are concerned that they lack good tools for data-driven decision-making, which is hampered by the inability to access data in a timely manner. CEO’s currently are unable to get data delivered in a coherent single source like an integrated dashboard. Today, data arrives from multiple systems in multiple formats, some reports accessible through online portals and others delivered via email. All with the limitation on when they have access to it and limited ability to slice, dice and filter the data as well as lack of real-time and mobile access.

Managers can be making more effective decisions with the proper tools. The intent of BI is to cross-pollinate this vast amount of significant data to provide greater insights in business decision-making.

BI tools are aplenty! Analytical processing includes hosted call center platforms, web applications, market research, data mining, CRM activities, and decision support systems to name a few.

Business intelligence tools are a type of application software designed to retrieve, analyze, transform and report data for business intelligence. The tools generally read data that have been previously stored, often, though not necessarily, in a data warehouse or data mart.

BI tools allow you to uncover the answers to questions that drive your business. Imagine data that debunks industry myths or insights – more than just sales data to profitable and not-so-profitable products. BI tools enable you to access and combine relevant data for unbiased predictions, analysis and reporting. Today’s BI applications automate the reporting, reducing the time it takes for managers to gather all the data they need and assemble it into a usable format. The content is customized to each user; create dashboards, reports, and data visualizations easily within one user experience. No need to call the helpdesk!

BI tools source data from your spreadsheets to Twitter data and everything in-between. For example, your contact center has numerous applications that store customer information in a database. Like most organizations, new application/databases are added on and lack integration so they become silos. Common databases used today include MS Access, Oracle, DB2, Informix, SQL, MySQL, Amazon SimpleDB and a host of others. Flat files, web services and other sources such as RSS feeds too are also sources of data.
- Know your KPI’s in real time.
- Hard data eliminates the guesswork. Running a business shouldn’t be like gambling.
- Get answers faster. Slice and dice the data at your fingertips and eliminate volumes of old printed reports.
- Get automated reports – data when and where you need it - Insights into customer behavior.
- Identify cross-selling, upselling opportunities.
- Internal process improvement and synergies.
- See where your business has been and where it is now and where it is heading.

Companies that can extract insights from data will not only lead, but also crush the competition. The new BI tools of the 21st Century are really the crystal ball that companies need today to compete. Managers no longer must wing it and make decisions on gut feelings or follow what everyone else in the industry is doing. Using real data that is measurable and objective to make decisions makes for powerful decisions.

You hear it all the time, “it’s a solid plan” yet the project went sideways because the execution of the plan isn’t as good as the plan itself.

Bad execution hurts all projects including BI implementations. While intentions were good, BI projects fail when you don’t have enough employees with the right skills to deliver on time, bad management of the project, and shortage of funding or lack of executive support. If you can’t put the right number of dollars, people and resources to the project it’s best to wait and avoid the project from running into the ground.

Some companies will try to outsource this project only to find they missed valuable sources of information. The outsourcer didn’t know about the closet stacked with hard drives filled with old databases, or that an analyst recently retired and the entire database is stored on his hard drive. Only folks on the inside know about these little hide-a-ways of data. Even if they know they exist, obtaining access is the next hurdle. Outside companies don’t have the same “in” as internal employees.

BI projects are complex and need the cooperation of many departments within the organization. Quality coordination and stakeholder involvement can guide the BI project to a successful end where CEO’s and managers have all the data they need at their fingertips.

Tips!

Take stock of current resources. Look within the organization to leverage the IT you already own to support BI. Your CFO will more likely support additional investments.
The crown jewel is in the unstructured data. Include social data to spot early trends and uncover unexpected insights.

Take the Next Step!

Companies that are nimble and respond quickly to market changes and conditions cross the finish line first. Companies that understand the value of BI and understand its importance in their decision making will only increase and make them even more powerful, strategic and successful. Placing strategic information in the hands of decision makers empowers managers to make better decisions, improves customer service and leads to greater competitive advantage. A genuine commitment to collecting, organizing and sharing data plays an important role in advancing your business.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.