September 27, 2012, 12:28 PM — Your customer service representative answers a call from an irate customer. "This darn thing I bought just doesn't work!" he exclaims. "I've tried and tried to get help from your service folks, but they're always late and they can't fix it either. I've had it with you guys. I want my money back!"
There's silence as your rep calmly listens to this obviously unhappy customer--and pulls up a raft of information about him, ranging from a few years' worth of transaction data (from the data warehouse) and service call information (from the service department databases) to call history (from the CRM system) and what he's said about your company on Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere. There may also be a stream from previous online chats or, thanks to cookies, a list of where he's been when searching your website.
All this information is compiled so the rep can see, through a visualization tool, that this is actually a good customer who's just having a bad day: He hasn't been troublesome in the past, he frequently Tweets and therefore has a high Klout score (which makes him a social media influencer, presumably with lots of followers), he gave you a Facebook "like" and he spends a fair amount of money with you.
"This is a significant advancement for organizations that, until now, had to rely on customers' frankness and candor to understand the issues."
This gives the rep the green light to offer this customer a refund, a free return shipping label and a coupon for 20% off his next purchase. The customer is happy&hmdash;and, even better, he's decided you aren't so bad after all. Case closed.
Big Data Holds Big Promise for Improving Customer Experience
Customer service reps red light, green light dashboard view quite yet, but for companies on the bleeding edge of big data analytics, the scenario described above is happening today, says Eric de Roos, senior director of product management for business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy.
"Big Data gives you a more in-depth understanding of what people are doing and how they are engaging with the organization. Ten to 15 years ago companies were just storing transactional data," he says. "Now we are tracking more behaviors. We give people logins, we store cookies. When they come back, we know who the customer is...what pages they click on and what they're looking for."