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Expert's Angle: Analytics and the Future of Contact Centers: Multi-Modal Contact Analysis

What changes are in store for the contact center in terms of analytics? This article series explores some of the major trends that will impact contact centers of all types over the next ten years. Read the previous article.

One of the changes that have occurred in the contact center industry in the last decade has been the development of multi-modal contact centers, which utilize several different contact channels to manage their customer relations. These multi-modal contact centers have many different channels at their disposal, which creates some very unique challenges, in particular, how to effectively and efficiently manage these channels. In this article, we will discuss what those channels as well as some of the work that is currently being done to provide an analytical approach to managing these centers.

The benefit to these types of multi-modal centers is that they will provide a truly customized contact solution for individual callers/respondents. It will also give call centers that have these options the ability to better utilize automation at the correct times, saving money for the contact center as a result. Finally, it has the ability to be used in all types of centers; even those that are primarily inbound

Defining Multi-modal Channels and Strategies

Simply put, multi-modal contact centers are those centers that have more than one contact channel that is used to maintain client relations of any sort. The most common channels are:

  • Direct Mail
  • SMS or Text Messaging
  • Inbound IVR
  • Virtual Agent campaigns, or outbound automated messages
  • Outbound IVR, or outbound dialers that attempt to increase right party contacts through asking automated questions to the respondent prior to passing the call to an agent
  • Predictive Dialer
  • Web Chat
  • Social Media

All, or some, of these channels can be present in one contact center and are becoming more common as businesses attempt to customize efforts to reach more customers. The analytical approach with multi-modal contact centers can be coupled with the analytics from other areas.

One example of converging analytical models is the use of voice analytics coupled with multi-modal contact centers. Based on the previous articles discussing the use of voice analytics to understand caller stress levels, multi-modal contact centers can take the same information and immediately trigger an outbound call from a senior agent if the call is terminated in the IVR, or create an outbound campaign to follow up and ensure that all of the callers’ needs were addressed.

Personalize the Contact Channel to the Consumer

With multi-modal channel management and analytics contact centers can achieve personalized and customized contacts. By analyzing how a customer chooses to interact with a business, contact centers can look for ways to automate the contact processes, where possible. Further, by reviewing what segments of a cohort will react positively to a contact channel, contact centers can begin to create campaigns that are targeted rather than ‘blanket-bombing’ style of marketing.

Here, we will use a sales center as our example. It is important to establish a cost-per-contact for each channel so as to better understand your overall rate of return. In this example, a typical cost per contact on an SMS message or text message is roughly $0.02 and a direct mail (DM) campaign will cost $1.07, (costs will vary depending on many factors including carrier rates, SMS gateway rates, postage, cost to process, etc. For this discussion we will use $0.02 for SMS and $1.07 for DM).

Say a sales business has a promotional campaign list of 8,000 records that they need to contact and traditionally these types of marketing campaigns have been done through DM campaigns. At $1.07 per DM, the total cost would be around $8,560. If that business then conducts a study along with some analytics and was able to determine that if they performed the same campaign via SMS, it would have a 30% success rate on the entire list of 8,000 --which comes to about 2,400 records. At $0.02 per SMS, the total cost would be about $48 to deliver the campaign. Even if the remaining records received a DM, it would only cost an additional $5,992 to deliver that DM campaign, with a total marketing cost of $6,040. This is a savings of $2,520 and we have only explored two channels.

The point here is that by analyzing what channels have acceptable success rates, campaign lists can be created by channel with automation and low cost contact channels leading the way so as to reduce operating expenditures (OPEX) significantly. To achieve this, an analytical contact center needs to investigate the following:

  • Cost-per-contact per channel
  • Success-rate-per-contact per channel
  • Overall contact rates
  • Available contact channels

By having this view and analyzing the data behind the contact rates, this sales center was able to achieve a significant OPEX savings.

Analytics and the IVRUsing IVR or interactive outbound dialers, contact centers are able to increase Right Party Contacts (RPC) as compared to the Wrong Party Contacts. An interactive dialer will place an outbound call and then ask the respondent questions, such as, “Are you the right party?” “Do you want to hear the message in an automated fashion?”, etc. This significantly reduces the Wrong Party Contacts in an outbound environment. By taking this type of technology and placing lists developed through an analysis of the ‘big data’ available, contact centers will be able to better achieve their strategic goals as they will have agents speaking to more Right Parties, virtual agents delivering messages to Wrong Parties and SMS messages potentially being sent to the cell phones of RPCs as a reminder. This increased used of automation and analytical approach will allow the contact center to significantly increase its reach without necessarily increasing its staffing requirements.

Another promising approach to analytics and IVRs is to develop segmentation models and apply them to your center’s existing technology. For example, many retention centers currently have Direct Inbound Dial (DID) numbers that are used based on segmentations. However, some of the more sophisticated operations are able to route calls based on the account number of the client when they enter it into the IVR for routing purposes. Right now this technique is being used to route calls to specialty queues, such as a high-value queues, etc. That same technology and approach can be used to take certain segmentations of your business and make proactive offerings to them while they wait on hold. By using business intelligence gathered through similar responses from accounts with similar characteristics, customized messages or routing can be applied during the IVR phase of the call. There is no real limit to how multi-modal contact strategies can be developed through the use of analytics, it is only limited to your capabilities and to the strategic intent of your center. There are some considerations that need to be accounted for universally:

  • A clear Call to Action for the respondent or caller must be present in the campaign


  • Contact centers must account for the fact that when doing outbound campaigns such as SMS or Virtual Agents that this may drive inbound calls and be prepared for those inbound calls, especially if that is the specific Call to Action from the campaign to do so. Also, an SMS or Virtual Agent campaign should not be used to replace outbound predictive agent campaigns as those that respond to the automated campaigns would have responded anyway


  • The strategic use of automated campaigns should be limited to taking out accounts that are highly likely to respond with little or no prompting by the contact center. More expensive campaigns such as direct mail campaigns and predictive dialer campaigns should be used to reach those that did not react favorably to the automated campaigns or who need a little more information or coaxing to respond favorablyAs with all articles in this series, the intent is to start a discussion within your organization on how analytics can enhance the performance of your contact center and reach. These discussions should take place in a cross-functional team so that all key stakeholders have a clear understanding of the intent.Multi-modal contact strategies hold the potential to truly customize the contact approach to the customer, if the contact center and the business have a very clear understanding of the analytics behind the contact attempts and their clientele.

In our next article we will be discussing how to apply Success Based Analytics to better predict caller behavior as well as how analyzing your Quality Model and Quality Model Scores can provide key insights into the operations.