Call Centers Suffer From Big Data Overload

Nearly half of all contact centers consistently collect and report on metrics that they never use to improve the customer experience, according to a new survey.

By Stephanie Overby
Mon, December 02, 2013

CIO — Corporate call centers have always been metrics-centered enterprises. And today, they are collecting more data about customer interactions than ever before. The problem is they don't seem to know what to do with it.

Nearly half of contact centers (48 percent) consistently collect and report on metrics they don't use, according to a survey conducted by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and sponsored by White Pages.

The five most collected metrics were average handle time (79 percent), abandonment rate (75 percent), average speed of answer (72 percent), after call work (63 percent) and quality (61 percent).

"Most of this is legacy reports or KPIs determined when agent efficiency was more important than customer satisfaction. It's always easier to present numbers with more confidence than to gauge an experience," says John Neely, director of accounts for White Pages.

"Because a lot of data literally falls off the system, gathering the data isn't that costly. Where the cost occurs is at the reporting and analytical level. Large call centers can have teams of analysts crunching this data into dashboards to present to senior management," Neely says. "The time spent of tracking metrics that do not reflect the focus of your business can be very costly and ultimately gain you nothing."

"Contact centers really need to ask the hard question, 'Who is the automation really meant to help?'"
-- John Neely, director of accounts, White Pages

As a result, more than a quarter of the 542 call center professionals surveyed said they were experiencing data overload. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent said that their contact centers can't provide customer information proactively to an agent, according to the survey.

[Related: Cloud Services Pave the Way for Call Center Growth]

The majority of agents (69 percent) have to navigate around multiple screens and interfaces in order to locate information and 40 percent are still manually inputting customer contact information rather than automatically feeding it into their systems via API or Web-based technology.

That additional time spent to collect basic information leads to inefficiency among agents and dissatisfaction among customers on the end of the line. Nearly half (49 percent) of agents report overall productivity and efficiency challenges when they have to ask customers for basic contact information.

Big Data Not Helping the Customer Experience

"Given the advancements in the online customer experience with sales and support, customers expect to be able to get right to what they need when they call," Neely says. "How frustrating is it to have to keep giving the same information again and again only to try to get to where you need to start? Today's customer expects technology to work with them and save them from repetitive, redundant experiences."

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