Taming Big Data

Normally, airline contact centers have focused on operational excellence or improvement areas which affect the efficiency of operations – focusing on metrics such as improving utilization, reducing AHT (without compromising CSAT), reducing ASA, hold times, etc. But with newer tools available in the marketplace, airline contact centers can now use sophisticated technology that helps in improving effectiveness – providing a single, unified view of the customer across multiple channels, leveraging speech and text analytics and integrating multiple channels of communication for the customer care agent.

Let’s take call recordings as an example. Customer interaction recordings are rich with insight on customer preferences, complaints, competitive trends and more. But the sheer number of recorded customer conversations in the contact center can easily exceed the ability to review and analyze them. Speech analytics takes a step forward in collecting that information by using advances in voice and natural language recognition. Converting a call to text, identifying the customer and agent (speaker separation), times of silence, hold and speak over are some of the things possible with this technology. Armed with this knowledge, contact centers can look for data patterns using key words and take appropriate actions.

Advanced speech analytics helps organizations identify cost drivers, trends and opportunities; strengths and weaknesses with processes and products; and understand how offerings are being perceived by allowing carriers to:

  • Analyze call content: Voice-to-text transcription can reveal insights on reducing costs and improving products, processes and the overall customer experience.
  • Identify competitive threats and opportunities and the root cause of customer dissatisfaction and call volumes. Speaker separation, emotion detection and talk over analysis using advanced text analytics tools are techniques that can be used.
  • Make quality monitoring more effective by routing calls about key business issues to supervisors for review.
  • Analyze call volume and why the customer called to implement proactive communication to reduce call volume and therefore cost.

All of this is great and helps in collecting a mountain trove of data for the business users to analyze. Outsourced services that help in addressing the shortage of statisticians or data scientists in the United States can help where sophisticated systems are not available to tap into this massive data bank, but the process is still manual and not very intuitive.

Advances in technology in the last few years have also given rise to smarter business intelligence tools like Oracle BI, Microsoft BI and Micro Strategy. These tools offer comprehensive reporting and dashboarding ability. Using these tools and the advanced data visualization components, it is easier for business users to self-service analytics using intuitive visual dashboards with real-time information and visual querying ability. Using additional layer of tools integrated with these BI platforms called CEP (complex event processing) or BRE (business rules engine) systems, BI systems provide the ability to monitor certain events in real time and alert business users if that occurs. There are numerous applications in a customer care center environment where a sudden spike in call volume or performance drop from certain suppliers could enable decisions to be taken before things snowball into larger issues.

New visual tools like Tree Map, Chord, Sunburst and many more provide innovative ways in which business users can now get insights about their businesses without extensive data crunching. Tools like Tag Cloud help analyze text data strings in colors and size to present a graphical visual insight into text analytics.

What’s more, these BI tools can help you stay in touch with your business though desktop, tablet, smartphone or plain old email/ text messages for business alerts. You can take your business on the cloud.

Another example of where “big data” can help is in the overall sales effectiveness of the contact center. As airlines have moved increasingly to the ancillary fee model – unbundling the basic airfare from the additional fees that they now charge for baggage handling or in-flight food purchases – the use of data analytics can significantly improve in their sales objectives. Airlines can analyze a past purchase history of in-flight meal purchases to offer customers a coupon for their next flight or simply use the information related to a customer’s layover to offer them an option to experience the airport lounge for a small fee. All of this can lead to not only increased sales but also create a more satisfied customer, therefore increasingly the overall lifetime value of that customer to the airline.

Leading airline contact centers are now run on intelligent applications and communication channels and have the ability to interface with smart business intelligence systems that monitor performance automatically. The business user focuses their time on things that can help maximize the impact for their business.

Rajat Bhatnagar is vice president with EXL and is based in Chicago. Pradeep Vachani is the global head for EXL’s Travel, Transportation and Logistics business and is based in New York. EXL is a leading business process solutions and analytics company with more than 21,000 employees. For more information, visit target=”_blank”>www.exlservice.com.