Share Business Intelligence to Improve Customer Care

Share Business Intelligence to Improve Customer Care

After speaking at the recent Management World 2010 conference in France, I was struck by the reaction of a Dutch IT engineer in the audience. The conference is presented annually by TM Forum, the world’s leading industry association for information technology in communications and media. We had presented a case study on the impressive customer care results achieved by a large telecommunications company through effective deployment
of business intelligence. Waiting his turn in a line of enthusiastic operations executives, this gentleman was puzzled.

“Please don’t be offended,” he said, “but what you’re describing isn’t rocket science.”

He was right. In fact, customer care is not rocket science – it’s way more complicated! For telecommunications companies delivering 24-hour service to millions of customers across the country, the technical operations function bears no resemblance to NASA mission control. Instead of focusing all energy and resources on a single mission, a large telecomm provider must accomplish half a million customer care missions every week. Unlike true rocket science, the mission isn’t performed by a small, elite corps of highly trained individuals with the “right stuff,” but by tens of thousands of regular folks, week in and week out, year after year after year.

These people need simple information to accomplish their missions every day. But many companies fail to provide this basic resource for customer care success. Some even believe that complexity and mystification are impressive. In reality, companies attempting to deliver excellent customer care must provide simple solutions that employees can adopt quickly so they can serve their customers well. It begins with a few simple concepts:

Great Customer Care Depends on Everyone Using the Same Yardstick

In organizations with large field operations, it’s not unusual for each location to measure its performance a little differently. But unless everyone is held accountable to the same standards, measurement becomes meaningless and customer care suffers. Begin your customer care work by establishing key performance indicators that are measured consistently across the organization.

Great Customer Care Depends on Information for All

It’s hard to improve productivity if you don’t know how your performance stacks up. Don’t hoard information – spread it around, from CEO to front-line employees. Access to current information makes an especially dramatic difference for work group supervisors, who often don’t have extensive management training. They need hard facts to manage customer care effectively. Constantly updated information on their team’s performance compared to others is the basis of objective discussions that help employees improve customer care steadily and consistently.

Great Customer Care Depends on Usability

To bring the ocean of data to life for your employees, deliver it through a simple user interface that responds to queries posed in common, “lay person” language. Making it easy and intuitive for the user encourages adoption.

Great Customer Care Depends on Carrots, Not Sticks

Don’t use business intelligence to punish poor performers. Instead, use it to reward those who beat the standard and motivate the rest.

Our client focused on reducing late arrivals for service appointments and reducing repeat service on installations. The business intelligence technology behind their customer care effort is complex, but the point of it is to empower employees to understand and take charge of whatever they control. The system the client now uses pulls data from more than 20 source systems to manage more than two million new records per day and deliver information clearly and simply to 3,000 front-line users serving 25 million customers.

Of course, all that behind-the-scenes complexity is transparent to the user. Since deploying business intelligence according to the principles outlined above, the client has seen a steady and continuing improvement in both its service issues. It’s not rocket science, but it is, without question, a real and on-going customer care success.

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Business Intelligence with Four-Wheel Drive – Measuring Results

Business Intelligence with Four-Wheel Drive – Measuring Results

If you want your business intelligence system to power your company over the rough terrain ahead, make it accessible to every level of your organization. The most successful solutions continuously deliver vital, current information to the front lines to help them drive the organization forward. This “four-wheel drive” approach of distributing data beyond the executive suite to all corners of the organization is the next step in the evolution of business intelligence.

First, use your data to develop key performance indicators for every department. These KPIs support the business imperatives that drive organizational decisions. Broad-based familiarity with key performance indicators and the data behind them will ensure that goals are aligned throughout the organization. Actionable messages from the executive suite will be consistently transmitted, inspiring divisional and regional leaders, supervisors, and ultimately, customer-facing agents. This is the real power of business intelligence in action.

Next, go viral with your business intelligence. Internet users know that the most popular websites are those that are updated regularly. Similarly, if you want business intelligence to spread quickly, give everyone in the organization continuous access to fresh data via a simple user interface that responds to queries posed in common, “lay person” language.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) techniques allow your IT staff to update data affordably, multi-dimensionally and in real time, facilitating convenient correlation of data points and tracking of key performance indicators from all corners of the organization. With access to this business intelligence, users across the company can query based on their own specific interests – no more waiting for an overloaded IT department to produce canned reports that are out of date when they arrive. IT staff become agents of empowerment instead of producers of reports.

The final step in developing four-wheel drive business intelligence is making access painless and rewarding for users. A skilled business support system provider can develop customized tools that are not only easy to use, but also reduce users’ workload. The provider should work closely with a cross-section of employees, ensuring a business intelligence solution that is essentially created by users for their peers. The result will be intuitive and eagerly adopted, minimizing training costs and user resistance. An agile development approach can give users access to some elements of the system early in the process, delivering an early return on investment and creating enthusiasm that will spread across the company.

We have seen this approach to business intelligence revolutionize several large organizations with a reputation for very difficult reporting and metrics practices. One system currently in production pulls data from more than 20 source systems to manage more than two million new records per day and deliver information to 3,000 front-line users serving 25 million customers.

To learn more about business intelligence solutions, please visit or e-mail

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