Monday, August 12, 2013

Will big data decide the agent who answers your next support call?


A conversation with Arnab Mishra, VP Products & Solutions at Transera - a leading provider of cloud based solutions for contact centers.

What does Transera do?

We at Transera provide a suite of cloud-based contact center applications that leverage Big Data technologies to make sense out of all the diverse customer interaction data so that sales, marketing, service and support organizations can increase sales, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction through improved customer experiences.  We do this by bringing data together in the cloud from automated call distributor (ACD) applications, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) applications and other customer data sources such as demographic services so that contact centers can analyze, understand, manage and automate customer interactions in new and innovative ways.  Our customers use this knowledge to maximize the business outcomes of their customer interactions. 

What is your role in the company?

I am vice president of products and solutions. In this role, I guide the company’s strategy around technology and products and am responsible for our product management, product marketing, program management and strategic alliances functions. 

Why and when did the company decide to pursue big data strategy?

Our Big Data strategy stemmed from our years of work serving very high volume sales and service contact centers.  About two years ago, we realized that while contact centers have conventionally been focused on cost and operational efficiency, a paradigm shift was causing these centers to focus more on customer experience and engagement, including the higher-level customer journey which we define as the overall set of engagements in which a customer participates over the lifetime of their association with the enterprise.

We realized that traditional technologies did not meet the needs associated with this shift from an efficiency-only focus to one that includes customer experience, and our realization was that the primary challenge enterprises face in being truly focused on customer experience is lacking the insights required to maximize the outcome of each customer contact.  The irony here is that enterprises lack these insights despite having all the data they need in their existing contact center systems.  Transera realized that there was an opportunity to utilize the power and flexibility of Big Data technologies to address this problem and we have built a suite of applications that leverage Big Data to provide the insights required to maximize the customer experience.

What are the goals of the strategy? What benefits will Transera customers see from this effort?

Transera exists so that enterprises can finally achieve something they’ve needed and wanted for a long time. That is, to adapt how the enterprise engages with a customer based on that customer’s specific profile, past purchase history, and reason for contacting the enterprise.

We do not live in a one-size-fits-all kind of world. Enterprises that are able to adapt how they engage with their customers can deliver customer experiences that truly maximize customer satisfaction and the business outcome of each customer contact. 

As a vendor that delivers the required enabling technologies, Transera’s goal is to continue to provide enterprises the tools they need to connect their data dots in order to provide a holistic customer experience. The benefit to the enterprise is they are now able to focus on the higher level customer journey and view their data from a customer’s perspective, from the outside in, not from the inside out. With the insights available from bringing together disparate and silo’d data, enterprises can improve the customer experience and increase their value to the customer. In this way, they can augment the focus of their contact center from promoting efficiencies and cutting costs to making their customers happier and driving better business outcomes.

Any learnings from this effort that you can share with others?

Contact centers today are limited by the fact that they only have access to fairly low level data.  We refer to them as Event and Transaction data.  Events are the discrete actions taken during a customer contact and Transactions are a set of Events that occur during a customer contact session within a single operational system (e.g. IVR, ACD, CRM, etc.).  While these levels of data are interesting from an operational perspective, they are inherently silo’d and do not provide a good picture of the experience from a customer perspective.  The reality is that customers do not know and likely do not care about the many applications that live in a contact center and how these applications participate in a specific contact center workflow.

As a result, in order to improve customer experience and engagement, the enterprise needs to start by looking at the data from a perspective that meaningfully reflects the customer experience.  This requires viewing data at higher levels that integrate Events and Transactions in such a way so as to deliver insights to the enterprise.  We refer to these higher levels as Interactions, Engagements and Journeys. With the information gleaned at those levels, you can improve the customer experience and increase your value to your customer.

 The Levels of Customer Data in the Enterprise Contact Center


Companies that deploy strategies and solutions like ours see very significant performance benefits. We’ve already seen this first-hand through our initial deployments. Companies are seeing tangible improvements in overall business performance. 

Any predictions for 2014?

Customer service centers have evolved significantly over the years making the evolution from call to contact centers. Now, the focus has shifted to optimizing the overall customer experience. As a result, we see contact centers evolving into Customer Engagement Centers.

2014 will continue to see a focus on this and, as a result, we will see an ever-growing desire to invest in technology that can actually support optimizing customer engagements and business outcomes.