By Dan Miller – Lead Analyst & Founder, Opus Research
Metaphors largely fail when talking about the challenges enterprises face when managing so-called “engagement data.” Today’s customers interact with businesses in a myriad of ways—through smartphones or laptops, over messaging platforms or chat, through social channels, and sometimes via phone. The records and recordings of these interactions are captured in what are politely called “systems of record” where they can be subjected to analytic tools and augmented by associating them with “metadata” such as time stamps, physical location and device in use.
A challenge arises because elements of customer data tend to exist in departmental “silos.” The word evokes the images of vast plains of harvested corn where the horizon is punctuated occasionally by tall cylindrical structures that house the ripe by-products of data mining and speech analytics. Contact Centres have their silos. Marketing has its own silo, closely mated to CRM. So do Operations, Billing & Recordkeeping and Finance.
The first-order challenge for marketers and customer care experts is to break down those silos and make the data available across all departments. This is especially true for the insights that arise from the words that are used when companies engage directly with customers or prospects. Opus Research calls this “first-party” data because the utterances or texts employed by customers contain the precise words and terminology that they use to indicate their intent:
“I’m calling to learn about options for a loan?”
“Where’s my package?”
“Can I make an appointment for next Thursday?”
“I need to book a room for my family in Detroit.”
What these statements have in common is that they are all in the first person. They are indicators of personal intent captured directly from the individual involved. And the records they create are rich sources of data that should be shared among departments.
Understanding such first-party utterances and sharing them in a timely manner is the core of excellent customer service and the foundation of outstanding customer experience. But somehow this literal “voice of the customer” gets lost amid other records that profess to be “customer data.” CRM systems own the “customer profile.” Contact Centres maintain “call detail records.” Transaction processing systems keep track of purchase history, payment preferences and order status. Each in its own “silo.”
Silo Busting: A Failed Metaphor but a Promising Foundation
For years, new technologies or approaches have promised to break down data silos. Destroy them. Explode them. Render them obsolete. These approaches sound very messy because they don’t explain how the various data sets could be normalised and shared. Do they naturally flow into a data lake? Are they carefully orchestrated by a data management suite? Perhaps they settle down on a customer data platform (CDP) where they co-mingle with other descriptors, qualifiers and records aggregated by third-party resources like credit reporting agencies.
Enter Verint’s Engagement Data Management Platform. As part of its campaign to promote “Boundless Customer Engagement” the company takes an approach to capturing and managing first-party data that puts an emphasis on “openness,” meaning that the recordings, transcripts and metadata can be pre-normalised and shared across multiple systems. It’s been called the “cloud evolution of recording,” but it is much more because it can ingest engagement data across multiple modalities and communications platforms and subject them to analytics and enrichment and then share them across departments.
Destroying data silos and normalising records in order to liberate engagement data is just a starting point. Not confined to mere ‘silo busting,’ the solution aggregates and normalises engagement data regardless of where or how it was initially captured. Once in the cloud, the Engagement Data Platform (EDP) can get data from any source. But it’s a two-way street because the platform can write new information or updates to the disparate systems that inform agents or virtual agents, often in real-time.
It Takes a Hub
Like all technologies, the practical uses are driven by use cases. Enterprise executives have to ask themselves whether they are taking the most efficient approach to capturing and aggregating first-party, interaction data across the many channels that customers employ. A survey conducted by Opus Research in early 2021 showed that executives saw great value in capturing engagement data, yet 80% felt that they were underutilising the insights they capture in conversational data.
To address these challenges, companies need to be able to understand customer interaction and experiences across all channels and modalities. The only way to do that is to bring all of these interactions and experiences into one, normalised, enriched data-hub that provides simple access to the entire enterprise for analytics and insight. The Interaction Data Hub is very well suited to instances when Customer Care and CX resources have moved to the cloud and conversations between companies and their customers take place over multiple channels.
Specific outcomes that are anchored include:
- In contact centres: to improve customer engagement across all touch points.
- Marketing and CX: to assist in understanding the needs and experiences of all customer groups across the business
- Legal and Compliance: to ensure all communications are managed in accordance with laws and defined practices, according to a common set of standards in order to meet regulatory requirements and reduce fines
Verint has redefined the concept of open access to data or intelligence across systems, departments and business units. It puts emphasis on the normalisation or “pre-normalisation” of data from a multiplicity of sources. Opus Research sees this as a great advantage in the potential to apply “Conversational Intelligence” throughout the business, tackling head-on the challenge of hearing the true “Voice of the Customer” rather than the results of post-call surveys. We are just beginning to see how executives are using open access to normalised data to deliver positive business outcomes throughout the enterprise.
Hear more from Dan Miller and Derek Top from Opus Research in our on-demand three-part webinar series as they discuss with other Verint team experts how organisations can build enduring customer relationships in light of ever-increasing, ever-shifting consumer demands. Be sure to check out the session on “How to Crack the Customer Engagement Data Challenge” to learn why it can be difficult to put your engagement data to work, and how a new approach can help you succeed where others are failing.
Dan Miller founded Opus Research in 1986 and helped define Conversational Commerce through consulting engagements and by authoring scores of reports and advisories addressing business opportunities that reside where automated speech and natural language processing leverage conversational AI, analytics and contact centres.