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Big data and the consumer engagement model

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Jonathan Holden, group executive of operations, and Phumla Tshabalala, managing executive of contact centres at Innovation Group, discusses the implications of big data and the associated impact on the customer engagement model.
Big data is an immense collection of different types of data that can be mined for information. This information can then be combined and analysed by businesses to find ways to improve profit and performance. The contact centre plays a major role in this process, because for most businesses, it’s the only human touch point they have with their customers.
This will become self-evident in the discussion on the benefits of big data in the consumerisation of the insurance industry.

Better customer profiling
The contact centre is no longer limited to voice-calls. The versatility of big data means that everything from customer on-boarding documentation and web-browsing click-stream data to auto telematics, geo-spatial data and social media interactions can be lumped together for convenient analysis.
The result is improved customer profiles, enabling businesses to offer their customers a more personalised service. This is why insurers may offer rewards for the opportunity to track their individual customers’ information, such as cash back on fuel spend or value added services for integrating different insurance packages.

Improved customer experience
The insurance industry is dependent on data, using predictive and statistical modelling to make accurate risk assessments. This means the more customer data an insurer has access to, the more effective they can become at product segmentation per individual, so they can offer each customer exactly what they want and need from the company.
Contact centres play a major role in this regard, which is why there has been an influx in emerging contact centre trends to push the envelope of customer engagement. These include migrating to the cloud, utilising bigger and better data analysis tools and realtime communication, adopting an omni-channel approach, embracing the Internet of Things, gamification and even sometimes transitioning to a hosted contact centre that can ensure companies are getting the most out of their contact centres.
This leads to ultimate customer satisfaction and retention as a result, because the customer does not have to sift through mountains of information or go through extensive procedures to get what they need from the company. It also allows insurers to identify gaps in their product offerings to address and improve upon.

Enhanced customer engagement
Another huge trend gripping the contact centre industry right now is using social media as an impactful channel of communication for customer retention and growth, seeing as the greater majority of people prefers to interact in this way.
From an insurance perspective, many motor insurers offer telemetry-based packages, where hardware is installed into the customer’s vehicle to track their driving information and behaviour. If they are aware that their actions are being monitored, they are more likely to drive carefully, which will benefit them in the form of lower premiums.
By the same token, if customers are aware that their engagement with their insurer translates into improved offerings via big data analytics, they will be far more likely to willingly offer up any information, contributing further to their insurer’s big data stockpile.
There is of course the apprehension that insurers are out to gather data that will adversely affect the customer if known. It seems the model here is to reward the good and not necessarily punish the bad in order to drive the right behaviour.
Lastly, companies need to be cautious of overestimating big data. It alone cannot streamline interaction with customers. It requires optimal processing power, analytic capabilities, interpretation skills, and as a result, it means finding the right partner to optimise the process and information.