–  Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs, says:

It doesn’t matter what company you work for or what industry you are in, chances are the way you do business is being affected at least in some small part by big data. Big data has been cutting edge for quite a while now. Its initial splash was mainly theoretical—the idea of using big data was appealing, but most companies had no clue how to actually do it.

Fortunately, this is no longer true, and big data has moved from a trend of the future to one that companies are using right now in many different aspects of their operations. Here are three ways companies can Improve Customer Service with Big Data.

Using predictive analytics to gain a competitive advantage

A true competitive advantage can be difficult to come by these days, as globalization has meant that there is no lack of competition for most companies. But, companies that use predictive analytics to gain insights into their customers’ wants and needs can in turn provide a better customer service experience.

Nationwide Insurance’s Matt Jachius is quoted on CIO.com as saying: “The ability to collect vast amounts of data on individual consumers—their consumption habits, their preferences, their interactions with the company—and then analyze those data sets for predictive behavior and proactively apply those insights both to your existing customers and to customers coming into your call center or your website or your agent’s office, [that’s] the basis of competitive advantage in the future for the CMO because you can provide a better experience.”

Providing more personalized customer service

Today’s consumers want information, products, and services that are valuable to them as individuals, not generic messages. Big data provides the opportunity for companies to personalize their customer service options in a way that was never possible before.

In a recent Forbes article, IBM’s Likhit Wagle describes how banks are using big data to offer their customers a more personalized experience. He writes: “While financial institutions have talked about ‘relationship banking’ for years, too many continue to offer across-the-board pricing, or treat customers the same regardless of who they are, how long they’ve been with the bank, or how many accounts they have with institution. Smart banks are using big data to act differently, to create a 360-degree view of each customer….Instead of remaining product centric or segment centric, these firms are becoming truly customer centric for the first time.”

In addition to providing more personalized service, big data analytics generates information companies can use to provide proactive customer service—addressing questions, complaints, and concerns even before customers have the ability to voice them. Studies have shown that consumers are not only receptive to these overtures, but that they improve consumers’ perceptions of the organizations that make them.

Offering better solutions by understanding customers better

What big data analytics really helps companies do is something they should be doing already—listening to their customers—only on a much, much larger scale. Big data allows businesses to really dig beneath the surface to identify customer pain points that haven’t been adequately expressed, or that the customers themselves might not even recognize yet. By doing this, companies can provide better products and services, as well as better interactions via customer service call centers and help desks.

Essentially, big data provides a wealth of information that smart companies are learning to use to gain valuable knowledge and insights about their customers. Better understanding, personalization, and behavior prediction are just three of the many ways big data can help businesses improve their service processes and benefit from the financial rewards that come from having happy, satisfied customers.