Structured vs. Unstructured Data - What are the Benefits of Each?

Written by KOVA Corp

Contact centers today - and every other business organization, really - have an overwhelming supply of data that they can draw on for insight.

From the most general information, like the number of calls per day, to the very specific, like what percentage of agent interactions results in a successful upsell of a particular product, organizations with the right software solutions can use this data to push their businesses toward further success.

All of this data falls into two categories: structured and unstructured. Not surprisingly, structured data is easier to manage, and can offer lots of useful insight for organizations.

However, unstructured data is just as important, and can often hold clues into why customers behave the way they do - if you can uncover them. So how do you manage structured vs. unstructured data, and how can each type benefit your contact center?

Structured data

Structured data is information that is easily trackable, found in your CRM or other contact center database. Customers’ names, locations, purchase history, their number of social media followers - all of these things are examples of structured data.

Other examples are KPIs like First Call Resolution (the number of calls resolved during the customer’s first interaction), Talk Time (the average number of minutes agents spend on the phone), and Active vs. Waiting Calls (the current call volume compared to the number of callers waiting to speak to an agent).

These are all pieces of information that can be measured by your contact center software and pulled into easy-to-read reports.

Structured data like this is vital to organizations because it provides them with benchmarks for their agents and the contact center as a whole. Using this data, contact center managers can gauge performance, set goals, and identify areas that clearly need work.

Unstructured data

While structured data can tell you a lot about how your contact center is doing, it can’t necessarily tell you much about why your customers are behaving the way they do.

To get answers to these more nuanced questions, you need to look at your unstructured data. This is information contained in your agents’ interactions with your customers, whether by phone, email, or chat.

For example, let’s say your agents are working on upselling a particular product - an expanded internet package, for example.

You could look at the structured data and find that the upselling is successful on 12 percent of the calls. However, you wouldn’t know why it was successful. What are those agents doing differently? How are the customers who take the upsell behaving differently?

This is the realm of unstructured data. So how do you get at the wealth of useful information locked in these customer interactions?

One way is by using a software tool like speech analytics. This technology analyzes the words, tone of voice, and even pauses that customers and agents use during calls, turning it all into data you can easily understand.

Take this example that Verint’s Daniel Ziv discusses in Direct Marketing News (DMN). One company wanted to understand what made the difference between a successful sales call and an unsuccessful one. After using speech analytics and comparing the words and phrases that agents used during successful calls vs. unsuccessful ones, they found their answer.

“[Managers] discovered that agents asking for ‘another moment of your time,’ before the upsell offer was actually driving a negative customer response. Only 6.3 percent of calls that included this phrase ended in the successful sale,” Ziv says in the article.

He continues, “This analysis also surfaced phrases that were driving positive customer response, such as, ‘You could be earning X dollars in interest on the balance in your account; would you like me to set that up for you?’” This phrasing resulted in a 57.6 percent sales success rate. Armed with this knowledge, managers could instruct agents to use that alternate phrasing to improve the overall sales rate.

Unstructured data is everywhere, but it’s not always easy to analyze. If you’d like to learn more about contact center software that can help your organization make sense of its data - both structured and unstructured - take a look at our enterprise workforce optimization solutions.

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