Phone Data Reveals Key Business Insights IF You Know How to Unveil Them

By Sharon Harry, Marketing Director, Metropolis Technologies Inc

The communication channel has grown more complex in the last decade with the introduction of social media, chat, email, and video conferencing, yet phone calls still remain the number one method customers use to get questions answered, seek support, or clarify purchase decisions. Why? Because humans like to talk to other humans.

For a CIO, the communication network provides a great opportunity to obtain high-quality business intelligence with actionable feedback on customer service, sales activities, support tasks, and more.

By harvesting and analyzing this communication data, visibility can be used to enhance operations and identify employee performance issues, reduce telecom expenses, forecast networking infrastructure needs, and even minimize corporate liability. The first step to gaining this insight is to identify and capture the information available.

Uncovering the Data: Every voice network leaves a crumb trail of key insights through several data sources including call detail records (CDR), direct data collection from the PBX or contact center server, vector directory number (VDN) structures, and even Syslog files captured from gateway radius servers to assess concurrent trunk utilization information. Recording this information using multiple methods can cause a challenge, but there are many 3rd party solutions available to query and aggregate this information into an exportable database.
Table 1: Five Samples of the Type of Data Available and its Usage Application(s)
Information Sought – Usage:

  1. Hold, ring time, and call park information – Identify how long customers are waiting for assistance before being handled by customer service (i.e. longer times may indicate less satisfied customers)
  2. Call Duration – Identify lengthy and costly calls, as well as 0 duration calls which may signify an abandoned call
  3. Network Usage/Trunk – Benchmarking voice network usage and capacity help to identify overused/under-utilized lines as well as forecast future needs
  4. IVR/VDNs – Failed routing structures and optimization opportunities can be identified to improve call flow patterns and eliminate customer frustration
  5. Emergency Calls – Misdials can be filtered from true emergency calls to decipher how often these types of calls arise and limit

Getting the Big Picture:
Knowledge is useless without meaning no matter how much or how great the data captured is. For example, measuring the repeated performance of employees and comparing productivity among them can help an organization to set realistic and achievable goals, as well as quickly identify which representatives are performing well from those in need of coaching.

According to a survey completed by American Express in 2011, 67% of customers have been so frustrated that they were unable to reach a live person, they hung up the phone. Research completed by Harris Interactive concurs, reporting that 75% of customers feel it takes too long for them to reach someone on the phone. With the insight phone call interactions provide, a customer’s experience can be charted, benchmarked, and then optimized to reduce such negative interactions.

Maximizing Usage and ROI:
According to a report published by Bia/Kelsy, businesses spend $68 Billion annually on advertising with the intention of driving inbound phone calls. Conversion Scientist goes so far as to claim that inbound phone calls are up to 15x more likely to convert into an order versus website leads. It is no wonder that marketing executives have been tracking inbound phone call activity for years in their marketing automation and Google Adwords programs.

However, inbound calls are not the only revenue-generating behaviors that can be accounted for through call reporting. A US-based company was experiencing declining revenues and was unable to identify the cause. They began to track the outbound call efforts their sales team was making, benchmarked this information, and then told their team that they were being tracked. After the announcement was made that employee productivity was in question, the sales team rallied and increased their call volume twice-fold. The company experienced a $62K increase in orders within a month.

Are the sales and marketing departments the only ones in an organization using the phone? Unlikely. With so many departments utilizing the phone to perform daily tasks such as managing vendors, providing customer service, fielding client requests, or developing relationships with partners, what other departments could benefit from call reports to optimize operations? After all, data can only provide wisdom if it is applied.

Choosing what data matters:
Productivity statistics: How many calls are sales teams, customer service agents, or support staff handling per day, and what goals should they be meeting? How many unauthorized calls are taking place by employees who should not be spending time on the phone?

Infrastructure challenges: Does the contact centre have the same combination of roles – both agent and management – as comparable peers, and a similar balance of shift patterns?

Customer behaviors: How many customers are hanging up before they reach a representative? How can that number be reduced? How long are customers waiting or being transferred and how can that number be reduced?

Inbound leads: How many inbound leads are generated by a marketing campaign? How can inbound call efforts be improved? How can this information be tied to sales?

System downtime: How often is the phone system offline? What impact does that have on the business?