The Hidden Potential of Segmenting Customer Calls

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"tap-tap-touch." "It's almost like they're tapping you a couple of times on the shoulder trying to get your attention," she says. "What we see with this group is that you won't hear from them for a while, and then suddenly they'll contact you, and you get many repeat contacts within a window of just a few days."

These customers are often calling into a contact center repeatedly in the case of an event, such as when a storm knocks out electricity or if cable service isn't working. Or a customer might have a problem with her account, or maybe it's a more complex sales opportunity and the customer is doing research and following up before he's ready to make a decision and commit to a sale.

"If a customer is contacting a company repeatedly within a window of days, there is a high level of emotional involvement on the customer's part," Kaiser says, adding that the caller wants the issue to be resolved and have closure.

"Especially if you can't resolve this in the first call, the customer might call back later and say, 'It's still not working.' Then [she calls] the next day and says, 'You told me it would be fixed by end of day yesterday,'" Kaiser says. "Those are situations where a customer has a high degree of emotional engagement and the outcome is either resolving that problem or getting a sale to go through."

Kaiser says that when she performs research on the voice of the customer, she repeatedly hears a lot of frustration. "[A customer will say,] 'Why do I have to work so hard to solve this problem? I just called you yesterday about this and now I have to call you again and I'm still not getting answers, so now I'm going to have to email you. I have to jump around and figure out different ways to contact your company until I get this resolved.'"

Segment by Agent Performance

Sometimes, segmentation is as simple as routing a customer to the best agent. It's not uncommon for a call center to do an analysis of its agents to determine its top performers.

"If you've got data that shows that your call center in South Florida has better success rates than your other call centers, you want to send every call through that center, but that's not something you can do," Bagley says. In such a scenario, it might make more sense to route a disgruntled or frustrated customer to the company's best call center if an issue is more complex than what a less well-performing contact center can handle.

"This is exactly where segmentation data is used," Bagley says. "You can build a profile so that you can decide dynamically about someone calling in from a specific geographical location about a specific question. You need to figure out which of these callers needs to be routed to that best-performing call center and which ones don't. You might let your middle-tier agents handle customers who are calling about their account status."

Analyzing the Data

Business leaders might think that customer segmentation involves a lot of technology, and though it can, most contact centers already have an arsenal of data at their fingertips. For example, companies can easily look at their call record logs to see how many calls they're getting in the IVR. Contact centers can also use Automatic Number Identification technology to determine which customer is attached to a particular phone number. With this information, organizations can look up the customer's records in the database.

"Then you can start getting a sense of which customers are contacting you frequently or infrequently, repeatedly or not repeatedly," Kaiser says. "Most companies have this data already, but they might not have analyzed it in this fashion. They're lacking insight."

Using different technologies, such as speech analytics, can be helpful in determining such criteria as customer contact patterns. In Kaiser's segmentation process, a company can use speech analytics to figure out that a certain percentage of callers fall into, for example, the "tap-tap-touch" category, but it might not know why.

"You might know that there are certain customers who will call you, for example, three times within a three-day window and then you don't hear from them again," she says. "You can use speech analytics against just that percentage of the calls; you don't have to look at all the calls. Now you can start figuring out what...the issues are in terms of your service, or what sales opportunities...are driving these repeat contacts."

Using analytics, companies can determine how to improve business processes, how to make the sales process more efficient, the key questions customers have, or obstacles to help them resolve their issue.

"When you start using speech analytics and figuring out what the call drivers are, then you can start figuring out if there is a

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