Precise data Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2008

When it comes to gathering business intelligence, everyone does the basics. However, a well-run call center program — either inbound or outbound — can provide a host of very granular information that will boost response.

“Businesses don’t just want to know that homemakers are by the phone between noon and 2 p.m. or that businesspeople are home after 8 p.m.,” says Michael Van Scyoc, senior vice president of information technology client services for InfoCision Management Corp. “We want to know exactly when we can reach any certain individual — say, between 1 and 1:30 or between 7 and 7:30. Today’s databases can give more sophisticated data than ever before.”

With predictive modeling against national databases and demographic breakdowns that go beyond age or sex, today’s call center databases can provide a granular mother lode of business intelligence, he says.

Smart Business spoke with Van Scyoc about databases, what information can be gleaned from them and how to use that information to make your call center hum.

What kinds of intelligence and information can a call center gather?

There is so much information that can be gathered from a call center operation. Perhaps the more important thing to keep in mind is the speed at which you can gain the intelligence. The call center provides immediate feedback. You can change your sales pitch or fundraising appeal, go live with your changes and immediately see the results of your changes. You simply can’t do that with the radio, TV or mail. By the very nature of a one-to-one interaction over the phone, you are able to collect very specific information about a specific customer. And, more importantly, with this specific information, you are able to market to and service your customers with great intelligence about them.

How often should this intelligence and information be updated?

Frequently and continuously. You may be replacing old information with new information, but often, you are adding new information to the existing historical information to add more clarity. You really have to understand the life cycle or trend of the relationship with your customers. The same is true for new leads or prospects. A single interaction doesn’t really tell you enough.

What if I don’t have a lot of historical information on my customers?

That’s where data enhancement services come in. With limited information about your customers, it’s possible to add demographic information like age, income, religion and occupation. It’s also possible to add purchasing behavior and psychographic segmentation. With this level of information, you can better provide the desired services or products to your customers. You know the best time to call them, with what up-sell or cross-sell products or services they will have a high propensity to buy.

When it comes to identifying new leads, you start by modeling your current customers. By using key customer indicators, you can build valid statistical models to predict the likelihood of a sale or positive response from prospects.

With all the data out there today, how do you decipher what’s most important?

Today, we are often overwhelmed with so much information to wade through. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve at a given time.

Basically, there are two aspects to focus on: productivity and performance. Productivity is your measurement of efficiency or use of time, like talk time, average speed of answer, abandon rates and service levels. Performance is your measurement of effectiveness or desired outcome, such as sales conversion, response rate and dollar per transaction. These are the basic statistics you need to look at from a tactical perspective. All of today’s well-run call centers have this type of information at their fingertips in real time.

How do I know which metrics to follow?

It’s really based on your current business drivers or campaigns. Maybe you are trying to increase the number of leads that are converted to sales. Maybe you are trying to increase the sale amount while maintaining a conversion rate. Or, maybe you are trying to maintain sales and conversions rates while lowering talk time in order to reduce costs. You may not even be interested in sales. Maybe your metrics are all based on cost-effective, high-quality customer service to your existing customers. It really depends on today’s focus. Tomorrow the focus may be the same or it may have change to meet changes in business.

MICHAEL VAN SCYOC is senior vice president of information technology client services for InfoCision Management Corp. Reach him at mikev@infocision.com. In business for 25 years, InfoCision Management Corporation is the second largest privately held teleservices company and a leading provider of customer care services, commercial sales and marketing for a variety of Fortune 100 companies and smaller businesses. InfoCision is also a leader of inbound and outbound marketing for nonprofit, religious and political organizations. InfoCision operates 32 call centers at 13 locations throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. For more information, visit www.infocision.com.