The Hidden Potential of Segmenting Customer Calls

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A mainstay of marketing, customer segmentation is a strategy that is used by companies to successfully match products and services with customers based on demographic categories, such as location, gender, age, and family status. Segmenting customers enables companies to better predict, for example, if a new offering will sell well to single moms in New York versus preteens in Peoria. While marketers have become quite adept at customer segmentation, applying this practice to the contact center and going beyond simple demographics is now gaining in popularity.

There are two main reasons this is happening. First, segmenting customer calls improves customer experiences. "More and more people are looking at things around behavior trends of customers," says Lizanne Kaiser, senior principal business consultant at Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories. "The way customers act with your company gives you clues as to what sort of customers they are. That allows you to better tailor your services for the way you interact with them and to better engage that customer."

The second main benefit to segmenting data is that it improves efficiency by making better use of company resources. "You can only spend money in so many places on so many customers," says Robert Bagley, vice president of research and development at ClickFox. Segmentation data helps you build profiles of who needs your attention and who is going to be the most receptive to you spending that money to keep them as customers and increase their satisfaction."

But when it comes to speech-enabled IVRs in the contact center, what do you segment? Why? And what are the best approaches to segmenting? Read on to find out how contact center managers can learn to slice and dice with the best of them.

Segment by Frequency

One simple way to segment callers is by frequency--how often a customer contacts the company. If a company examines all the calls coming into the IVR or contact center and collects data about the customer's contact patterns, the first question to ask is how regularly does this customer contact the company, Kaiser says. "Is it once and done, often, occasionally, seldom, or never?" Kaiser also believes it's important to consider the time over which calls are made. "Are they spread out over time, or do you tend to get a lot of repeat contacts together in a row?

"You need to look at the different patterns of your customers [and] split them up into segments," Kaiser says. "When you do that, it's going to give you a very different strategy of how you want to treat those customers."

Someone who contacts a company frequently, Kaiser says, is a "high-touch" customer. These are people who contact a company many times a month, weekly, or even daily. There are also "low-touch" customers--people who contact your company a few times a year, but spread those touches out over time. Then there are what Kaiser terms the "no-touch" customers--the ones a company rarely, if ever, hears from.

Finally, there are customers who fall under the category of what Kaiser calls the

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