Businesses must recognise the transformative impact of data on the customer experience, says Aspect

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Customer service departments must become better at using real-time data in order to move towards a personalised, authentic and contextual customer experience, claims Colin Whelan, Senior Solutions Consultant Aspect Software.

While a speedy and consistent service may have satisfied generations gone by, Whelan suggests that capturing the hearts and minds of the growing and demanding Millennial population can only be achieved by recognising the impact of data on transforming the customer experience.

He said: "Research and Markets reported that Millennials represent approximately a fifth of the UK adult population. They're mobile, extremely socially connected, time poor and difficult to engage, and everything they do is driven by real-time data. Since their every day lives are built on a foundation of real-time and continuous delivery – from daily Netflix updates, to synced features across devices, and even their social media feeds – they expect to have their needs anticipated. They want to be updated before they need to contact you, or speak to subject matter experts when queries are complex, and have context preserved permanently in between interactions, regardless of the channel used. Customer service should fall in line now, or fall by the wayside.

"To my mind the key to addressing this lies not only in process improvements, but in switching our focus to the workforce. Often Millennials themselves, the contact centre workforce is an increasingly critical facet of deriving actionable intelligence from customer engagement. Technology dominates their lives at home and they have little patience for out-dated systems that hold them back at work; they become unproductive, disengaged and this negatively impacts on the end customer experience," he commented.

Whelan continued: "A stronger approach that captures insightful data from multiple sources across the organisation, from the contact centre to the warehouse, will make the workforce more capable of controlling workloads, and reducing the risk of complaints and lost opportunities. Agents and customer service representatives are therefore more informed, empowered as subject matter experts, and ultimately, engaged."

He added: "Data also enables better planning and forecasting. Real-time planning and intelligence is highly reliant on the fact that you can constantly be aware of where your agents are, what they are planned to be doing, what they are actually doing and what they will be doing in the future. The more in-depth data from across the business you have, the better you can plan for assumptions and ensure that demand meets supply. It will also better enable the contact centre to react to situations immediately and in real-time."

One Aspect customer, upscale hotel group Edwardian Hotels London (EHL), has exploited real-time data in a very specific way to transform the customer experience, and link up the data derived from the contact centre with front line staff.

EHL delights its guests every single day, thanks to its innovative use of data and workforce optimisation to personalise the customer experience. By fully engaging its customer-facing staff and effectively harnessing available data sources from the contact centre, front desk and in-house mobile app, the group has increased its customer satisfaction rating by 30 percentage points over 18 months. Every member of the floor has a smartphone installed with an in-house app intrinsically linked to its customer database held centrally in the contact centre, which enables staff to alert each other to guest presence, preferences and movements.

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