As more and more businesses compete with one another for customers, companies are realizing that their level of customer service is almost as important as the quality and affordability of their products and services.
One way companies are assessing and improving their customer service practices is through the use of Big Data. Big Data can be used to measure customer satisfaction with online or in-store purchases and sales experiences. The goal of using Big Data to improve customer service is to turn raw data into valuable insight.
Companies that use Big Data to improve customer service include big names such as Amazon, Southwest, HP, Netflix, and many more retail stores. These companies use everything from analyzing customer ratings of service based on quantitative Likert scales to how many Facebook “likes” a company gets to using sophisticated software to mine comments for common themes, key words, and phrases. For example, if the word “slow” is found in a lot of a company’s comments, emails, and public forums, the company might have a problem with speed of delivery. This theme could prompt the company to further explore it’s turnaround time, delivery speed, and ultimately make changes to its processes and standard operating procedures as necessary. If customers repeatedly rated components of a business low on a Likert scale, the business could take measures to improve what was rated low.
Some companies even take proactive measures by determining what customers want and using it in their research and development to tailor products to the desires of their customers. Apple reportedly does this by mining data about what features people like in their products and what features people want to see improved.
Netflix even analyzes customer’s viewing habits in hopes improve customer service. It analyzes not just viewing habits, but how long it takes customers to select a movie, when customers pause, and also combines this with demographic data, such as age and gender, to improve movie viewing experiences. One of the biggest successes of Netflix’s Big Data analysis has come from using Big Data to create original programming, shows such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards– two wildly successful shows.
However, the challenge for companies using Big Data is how to effectively mine it. There is so much data available that it is necessary to understand how to sort through it all and find meaningful trends, patterns, and key issues. Also, Big Data is useless unless companies truly take the time to understand how to effectively make decisions that ultimately change their customer services practices and policies for the better.
Also, the company must take heed in the fact that while automated systems and Big Data are great tools to improve customer service, nothing can replace human interaction and empathy. One of many customers’ biggest complaints is that they can rarely get ahold of humans, or that doing so is very difficult. This just goes to show that perhaps computers, no matter how sophisticated, can’t ever really replace people.