Posted by Scott Yates, Senior Director, Operations “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” This timeless Aldous Huxley quote aptly summarizes the quandary of companies taking a passive business intelligence (BI) approach in today’s marketplace. There’s no excuse for this—when all your competitors are mining and taking action on treasure troves of data related to their customers, products, market share, and patterns of growth. To stay a step ahead, with an optimized—meaning proactive and actionable—BI strategy, be sure to understand the misconceptions:
- MYTH: Only structured data is valuable.
FACT: Structured and unstructured data are both valuable. BI is not black and white, in terms of structured and unstructured data. There are gray areas, in which unstructured data can be structured. Today’s text analytics tools essentially do this, as do tools as basic as Excel, with the right procedures on the front end. It’s all about a strategic, rightsizing approach. For example, for one of HGS’s premier clients, we employ sophisticated reporting tools. We also employ a straightforward, simple strategy on the front lines—with unstructured data. Agents use the Notes section to delineate, with a simple hashtag and caps font, any customer feedback related to a certain seasonal product usage--#COMPANYPRODUCT. With this simple and unstructured coding, we can measure feedback with a formula that parallels the coding taxonomy on which the Twitter platform works. This approach is not burdened by structured data organization, and it delivers the precise accuracy and minimal error rate of more costly structured BI tools. Basically, there is such a thing as overanalyzing your data—which can drain resources and raise costs. This solution works in the “gray area” of data, to mine unstructured data in a simple and cost-effective manner.
- MYTH: Good business intelligence is mined from only digital solutions.
FACT: There is no one-size-fits-all solution for business intelligence. According to IDC, communication channel preferences vary depending on the type of interaction customers are seeking. For example, 76% of respondents selected a voice call as one of the top two ways to report a problem with a product or service. You need to meet your customers where they’re at—and mine the insights across channels. For example, while digital solutions like SMS, chat, and social are in the spotlight today, voice is still a preeminent player. In fact, voice can provide the same level of potential as text, chat, and web customer insights. Speech analytics collects insights based on tone and conversation cues of agents and customers alike. Be careful directing too much of your feedback to digital, as social may then pick up most of the voice. This can be represented as negative sentiment made public, with no immediate potential to filter comments. Additionally, BI solutions should be deployed based on intended audience (for example, dashboard for agents, analytics for Marketing).
- MYTH: Data is good no matter when it’s used.
FACT: Data is a moving target, and real-time dashboards provide the best opportunity to capture and act on your data. The simple fact is that insights can depreciate at an alarming rate. What happened yesterday isn’t as valuable a week from now. Time to address important issues is short. Data can be devalued if not captured with a single dashboard, which can be used to capture relevant data points in real-time. Text analytics can decode what’s being said and the sentiment of topics, such as phone call transcripts (voice-to-text), social media conversations, product rating and reviews, chat logs, idea portals, and customer online community discussions. The resulting customer intelligence will help customer care centers proactively identify a PR crisis waiting to happen, capture new ideas, and uncover quality or warranty issues. Most importantly, real-time tools can personalize engagement with the customer.
- MYTH: It takes a data scientist to build robotic process automation (RPA) to mine your data.
FACT: Business intelligence tools are not so highly technical and complicated that you need a qualified IT specialist. It’s not just about building an algorithm—the creative process starts with a business’s stated vision. With the right starting point, translation, and toolbox, a custom report can be designed. As part of our collaboration with our client partners, we ensure that they are actively engaged, so their vision is 100% true to their brand and objectives. Together, HGS and our clients build a custom report. We teach our clients how to move forward with the BI results and be more involved in future creative process and a longer-term strategy to optimize insights for results.
- MYTH: Business intelligence is only valuable for major corporations.
FACT: Today big and small companies should be deploying available tools and expertise to drive company decisions. Data size is equally unimportant—in today’s world, no business or data size should prohibit use of good BI to sharpen operations. There’s no denying the reality of market competition and the likes of the current product landscape, which leans heavily on feedback, ratings, and reviews. You may be a one-person shop, but you’re competing with Amazon. To this point, don’t assume that BI is too costly. BPOs like HGS can help with fast-based models and shared resources, for a cost-effective approach. There are tools for less than $1,000. Some of these tools are as simple as an SQL web server on an Amazon-hosted web server or a Google-hosted web server or database. BI investments vary considerably—and in terms of ROI, remember that handling BI manually can, in fact, be the most expensive option. With a cost-benefit analysis, you can appropriately start and scale your BI to help bridge maturation of your business. And make sure there are enough a-ha moments along the way to justify expense level—in terms of product development, decisioning, and overall strategy.