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Operationalizing Customer Intelligence In The Contact Center

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Business Communications Review magazine.

Most customer service executives spend a considerable amount of time thinking about the need to change their contact center from a cost/service-oriented operation to one oriented toward profit/loyalty. A key capability in this migration will be the center’s ability to act on customer intelligence.

Computer Sciences Corporation recently surveyed more than 750 Fortune 1000 executives regarding their customer intelligence (CI) efforts and found operationalizing customer insights to consistently be the weakest of the three CI capabilities (customer information integration, customer insights, and customer insight operationalization.):

* 69 percent of respondents have not yet made customer insights available to their customer facing personnel.

* 54 percent do not differentiate service to their “best” customers.

* 70 percent do not have defined business rules in place when customers present a supportable need outside traditional sales and service situations.

Most contact center managers still repeat the same tired metrics to their executives: service level, average handle time (AHT), number of interactions and abandon rate. No wonder senior management yawns and acts like customer service is a cost center.

This article describes the actions that should be taken to prepare for CI operationalization, and the initiatives customer service executives should champion to ensure success in CI execution. This will enable the contact center manager to discuss metrics like customer defection saves, service-to-sales conversions, and cross- and up-sell ratios with management, and talk about what the center is doing to increase the loyalty of the company’s most valuable customers.
Preliminaries

Before plunging directly into the operationalization of CI, it will be useful to review a few basics of the subject, starting with a definition of customer intelligence: