Data Driven Customer Service: Your Future Arrives Today

Have you seen this commercial? A bespectacled gentleman is seated on a train. In one hand he holds a red ink pen. In the other hand he holds a newspaper folded back to a crossword puzzle. He glances down and sees the answers in the crossword puzzle read “YOUR HEART ATTACK HAPPENS TODAY”.


While the message of the commercial is that medical technology can’t reliably predict the date and time of a heart attack; watching this commercial got me thinking about consumer experiences and products where the reliable prediction of anomalies is possible. How much of a competitive advantage would you have if you knew your customer was going to have an issue before it happened? Or to have the ability to communicate to your customer the probability of an impending product failure, along with the action for remedy? Or better yet, to take steps to prevent the issue from occurring, without the customer ever knowing! This, my friends, is what a data driven customer service strategy can do for your business.

Customer Service nirvana you say? A bit futuristic you say? Not so much. Market leaders are investing in these predictive technologies today. And my prediction is that within 5 years, this type of high-tech customer service will be table stakes. The future is here. Better get ready.

So, where to start?

Start with your data. Your data has a story to tell. You just need to help your data find its voice, and then listen. In today’s businesses environment, where just about every transaction and customer interaction is done via a computer, most businesses have more data than they know what to do with. To meet the objective of developing a data driven customer service strategy your initial focus needs to be on – wait for it – your customer service and product defect data.

If your organization uses a CRM platform, there is tremendous value in this data. (And if you don’t have a CRM platform, add “Implement CRM” to your To Do list for this quarter.) If your CRM platform includes an integrated Case Management system (bonus points for this), the potential value of your data is even greater. If your Case Management system is not integrated with you CRM platform, no matter. That Case Management data is still of great value. What other data stores do you have that might provide insight into your product and your customer’s experience with the product? Perhaps your business utilizes customer satisfaction surveys, or you have a QA lab that stresses your product to the breaking point. Wherever it may be, identify the sources of your customer service data.

You’ve got the data. Now, find a capable data analytics/data modeling technology team to partner with. Engage that partner and start looking for meaningful relationships and correlations in this existing data. There are some amazing data analysis tools available to do this now. A good data analytics technology partner will bring a set of tools to the table that will ferret out key data relationships in far less time than you expect

After you crunch the data, you’ll know whether or not it’s possible to reliably predict a customer service issue before it happens. If you can, then move on to the next steps of building automated alerts and – very importantly – a response strategy/process that fits your organization’s customer service vision. High touch? No touch? Something in between?

And if the data crunching indicates reliable prediction of anomalies is not possible? Then take a hard look at your customer service processes and the data points being collected, and make sure you’re not missing an opportunity to capture better, higher value data.

I may be out on a limb here, but I’m guessing you are relieved that your current ability to predict customer service issues is not a matter of life and death. But, what if it was?