Dunder Mifflin call center recreation
Call centers can be your front line of customer experience, if you put your data into action and empower employees to act as more than just talking heads PHOTO: Bryce Johnson

Your company’s contact center is more than just a hotline for fielding customer questions or complaints. And if you're still viewing it that way, it’s time to say goodbye to that outdated perception. Contact centers are your hub for delivering outstanding customer service. 

If you’re rolling your eyes or think that’s a pipe dream, hear me out.

A Wealth of Data, Waiting to Be Tapped

Contact centers are channels that offer a wealth of data. That’s priceless insight into the customer experience, which can be sliced and diced to better understand intricacies in the customer journey. 

Brands spend millions of dollars on customer surveys that uncover only the information we thought to ask. Meanwhile, contact center data is all too often left untouched or only used in the silo of the contact center itself. It’s time to change that.

Each customer call is an opportunity to fix a one-off problem, but it’s also a chance to make larger, business-wide improvements that can reduce churn, increase revenue, uncover dramatic cost savings and beyond. 

Put Your Contact Center Data to Work

Here’s how to make the most out of the contact center data you already have on hand:

Identify Pain Points Along the Customer Journey

Your company may have a world class sales and delivery team working hard to improve experiences, but the rubber hits the road in the contact center. 

Friction points are most often uncovered in the contact center. It’s rare a customer will call in to leave a glowing review (of course this happens every once in a while). Instead, customer call contact center to air grievances or seek support. In either case, you’re able to collect valuable data about pain points. 

What is upsetting customers? What is working well? Where are they experiencing problems that can’t be solved without extra support?

With a large pool of data to work from, you’re able to identify common pain points and uncover the root cause of each issue. Don’t just look at the support journey. Look at the entire customer journey from research to purchase to use of your products. 

For example, a large healthcare insurance provider found many customers were calling into support for help finding doctors in their network. Ultimately, the transcribed voice data revealed that the company’s website search function needed an upgrade. This pre-purchase part of the journey was a known headache, but the extent of that pain was not clear. 

Armed with these insights, company executives were able to make a case for investing in better search logic, which ultimately drove new revenues and saved the brand millions in contact center costs.

Improve Processes, Products and Services 

Once you’ve identified pain points that repeatedly come up during customer calls or chats, you can begin to make larger business changes that nip these problems in the bud. 

For example, if customers are frequently asking for help on how to install a carseat in a certain model of vehicle, consider providing step-by-step instructions on your website. Providing more information on your website can be a quick, cost-effective and easy fix. 

More complex customer complaints may require larger business changes. For example, if customers keep calling in to report damaged products during shipping, it may be time to pack and label the boxes differently or partner with a new shipping service.

Sometimes the best of intentions can backfire. But you can use the contact center as a leading indicator, as one large hotel chain did that understood customers had issues with their new final bill, but were only able to uncover the actual root cause after examining the detailed voice of customer feedback. As it turns out, a change to the bill for clarity actually ended up causing more confusion. 

Ultimately, contact center data serves as statistical evidence that processes, products and services can be improved. Take that information and act on it. If you aren’t prepared to do so, be ready to lose customers — both those who spoke up about an issue and those who quietly encounter the same issues, but don’t take the time to call.

Empower Action at Every Level

Let’s face it — most contact center agents and their managers are frustrated. They see what is wrong with the business, but feel powerless to change it. They know that, if analyzed, the customer data itself would be statistical evidence that would bring credibility to their suggestions. Let's empower them with data.

Record and review conversations, assessing key moments throughout the call in which the customer’s emotion shifts. At which moments are customers becoming angry? And when are agents able to please customers? 

Use these insights to instill empathy in agents and provide them with the leeway they need to support the customer. Emotionally intelligent agents that have the power to help and support, rather than just being a sounding board, drive better outcomes. Imagine a world where agents are able to say “I realize that is frustrating, let me help you through this.” or “Perhaps we can try another way to resolve your issue, let’s see.”

Finally, make sure to personalize the contact center experience for each individual customer. There’s nothing worse than a cookie cutter service call. 

Take popular TV series character, Kelly Kooper of The Office, who answers each customer call with the following statement: “Oh my god, I am so sorry. That is so messed up. Everyone here is so upset, you have no idea. I’ll be thinking about you all day.” 

Don’t be a Dunder Mifflin. Make sure you leverage past customer interactions to provide quality, customized service that makes each customer feel heard.