Joe Ades, a.k.a. The Gentleman Peeler at work in Union Square, NYC
Call centers offer a wealth of customer data if you're willing to do a little work PHOTO: milfodd

If you’ve ever had a problem with a product, there’s a good chance you picked up the phone and called customer support. 

And even though today’s consumers are turning to new channels such as social networks and review websites to engage with brands, call centers are still one of the largest — and most underutilized — sources of customer feedback most companies have. 

Assessing Emotions and Pain Points 

That means it’s essential that brands record calls and analyze conversations. With access to these rich interactions, companies can start to assess common pain points, customer emotions and much more. 

Understanding who your customers are and what they care about is critical to business success because it allows you to improve experiences and build the kind of brand loyalty that can withstand the test of time. 

6 Ways to Analyze Your Call Center Data

Let’s take a look at six ways to slice and dice call center data to gain a better understanding of your customers and their journeys: 

1. Enrich Demographic Data 

Most companies collect demographic data about their customer bases but fail to take full advantage of this information. Sure, demographic data can tell you who your customers are, but pairing those insights with customer feedback from call center sources can better equip you to understand what your specific customer segments want and need. 

Combining demographic data with call center feedback also allows you to identify patterns across customer cohorts. For example, a bank might find that a certain class of customers is more likely to call in with questions about mobile applications. An insight like this allows the bank to update its mobile and web solutions to meet the demands of its less tech-savvy customers. That way, it can target this demographic with appropriate messages and information to start addressing their needs before they ever reach for the phone. 

2. Understand Emotion  

Take a look at the emotions your customers express during their calls. Whether your customers are angry, surprised, frustrated, happy or sad, be sure to identify what actions triggered what emotions. 

Doing that lets you pair each emotion with the topic of conversation that generated it, which is key to understanding which experiences are bringing customers joy and which are causing them headaches. It can also help agents understand the best ways to follow up with various customers after they’ve placed their calls. For instance, if customers call in to say they are upset about surprise changes, customer service can then know to offer sympathy when following up before going on to work with those customers to explain those pricing or other changes. 

The plot thickens when you’re able to track emotions for multi-topic calls. In these instances, you can track changes in emotion and tie dramatic shifts to specific topics. This is the richest way to look at customer emotion, and can underscore what customers love versus what puts them on a path to anger and frustration. 

3. Correlate Call Duration and Resolution With Customer Sentiment 

Each company has its own set of best practices when it comes to customer call duration. While some brands, such as Zappos, like to keep customers on the phone for as long as possible, others try to keep the conversations short and sweet. 

Regardless of what your company’s strategy is, it’s important to track call duration paired with time until resolution. Doing so provides a better understand of what topics come up repeatedly, which are related and which drive the longest calls. Armed with that knowledge, you can then put strategies in place to resolve these issues before they adversely impact your call center. 

Meanwhile, you’ll want to track the number of calls until resolution. Diving into which topics are leading to additional calls helps you ensure that you are prioritizing business improvement. For example, maybe new customers call within three weeks of onboarding with questions about their bills. With this information, you can more readily make a case for suggesting improvements to your billing and IT departments. 

4. Key Into Your Agents’ Emotions and Performance   

Brands often focus on the customer when analyzing call center recordings, but it can be just as beneficial to look at your agents’ emotions and overall performance as well. Whether the customer leaves a call angry or completely satisfied, it’s worth tracking which agent handled each conversation. What were the agent’s emotion and overall sentiment? What did the agent do well? Where could the agent improve? And most important of all, how did the agent’s attitude impact customer sentiment? 

Ultimately, an agent’s emotion, tone of voice and overall demeanor play key roles in how your customers react and engage with your brand. So make sure you’re tracking the impact agents have on the situation, and make sure to reward great service — while working to improve instances that weren’t as satisfactory. 

5. Pair Call Data With Post-Call Survey Results 

If you send out post-call surveys, make sure to consider the results in combination with the data from the recorded conversations themselves. Keep a close eye on the surveys that resulted in the worst ratings, and then look to call center recordings to figure out what topics were discussed, what the customer’s emotion was throughout the conversation and the overall sentiment of the interaction. From this data, you can determine how many of your customers have the same issues and drive the case for change.

6. Compare Call Center Topics Against Other Channels 

While the call center offers up a wealth of information about your customers, it’s always important to understand the limitations of its data. In most cases, customers place a call when they are frustrated or have a problem. Data on these experiences is hugely important, but it’s also not the full story. With this in mind, businesses should aim for a broader picture by tracking feedback across channels such as social, email, surveys and review sites. 

Not only will this give you a more complete understanding of the customer journey, but it will also provide a fuller understanding of which customers use each channel and why. Once you get at this information, you can better serve each customer across your various platforms and meet them wherever they are raising their voices. 

Hubs for Delivering Outstanding Service 

It’s time to stop thinking about call centers as support lines for one-off fixes. Call centers are channels that offer a wealth of data, and should be viewed as hubs for delivering great experiences and outstanding customer service. 

We spend millions of dollars on customer surveys that uncover only the information we thought to ask. Call centers, on the other hand, offer priceless insights into your customers’ experiences that you may never have otherwise known existed.