Archiving as a Customer Service Tool

We live in a suburb of Seattle and, like most of us who live in Western Washington, we have lots of trees in our neighborhood. One of the consequences of our winter storms is that our trees lose a number of limbs. To get rid of the tree debris each winter, about 16 years ago we and our neighbors purchased a gas-powered chipper from a company in northwestern Vermont called Country Home Products.

A pulley on the chipper shattered and I needed to order a new one. I tried to purchase a replacement part locally, but was told to contact Country Home Products directly, which I did. I didn’t remember the model number of the chipper and I didn’t have a part number for the broken pulley. However, I told the rep our address and that the broken pulley “was the larger one on the right as you face the housing.” He quickly brought up our purchase record from their database, knew the exact model of chipper we had purchased, and knew exactly what part we needed. The part was shipped and it was the right one.

We hear lots about archiving for purposes of regulatory compliance, litigation support, eDiscovery and the like — mostly defensive reasons just in case we need old data to satisfy a regulatory audit or address a legal action. But archiving can also be used as a customer service tool. In my case, a vendor’s customer service rep was able to immediately access my records from 16 years earlier and he knew more about my purchase and the specific replacement part I needed than I did.

That’s the kind of service that satisfies customers and builds brand loyalty — enabled because someone opted to keep their customer records in an easily accessible archive.

What Can You Do With Archived Data?

Archiving as a defensive tool is well-trod ground: it’s an important best practice for eDiscovery, litigation hold, regulatory compliance, storage management, and end-user access to content. Every organization should archive their employees’ data to ensure they can meet these defensive uses of archiving – what we call Archiving 1.0.

But what about Archiving 2.0, or a more proactive use of archived data? Here are some things you can do with your archives:

  • Investigations: The ability to extract intelligence from the content within email archives can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on investigations, such as early case assessments in advance of an anticipated legal action, an investigation about inappropriate employee activity, or an investigation about why a key customer account was lost.
  • Sales support: Communications with customers independent of a CRM system can be used to determine how sales, support and other staff members’ emails correlate with customer retention and follow-on sales. Similarly, the speed and quality of responses to customer inquiries can be correlated to sales in order to determine how best to respond to inquiries in the future.
  • Risk mitigation: Archived data can be used to mitigate risks from data breaches, employee fraud and related types of threats. Senior managers can look for employees who are more likely to commit fraud by looking for managers who are treating their employees badly, they can find employees who are communicating with an organization’s competitors, transferring sensitive files to a personal email address, or running a personal business on company time.
  • Customer service: Archived data can be useful in determining who in an organization is talking with specific customers, to whom in the customer organization they are speaking, the content of their conversations, and other relevant information.
  • Supply chain management: Another application is analyzing messaging and relationship intelligence to visualize employee communication with unauthorized parties.
  • Litigation management: Legal can use messaging and relationship intelligence to zero in on individuals or domains to understand communication trends and which individual(s) or domain(s) needs to be investigated further, enabling useful pre-trial or pre-litigation discovery information.
  • IT support: Help desks can become more proactive by conducting ongoing investigations into what employees are saying about particular applications, the goal of which is to address problems as early as possible.
  • Human capital management: An archive can be used to determine when employees are going to leave an organization and thereby minimize the impact of an employee departure.

We have written a white paper that focuses on Archiving 2.0 – please feel free to download it here.