How SAS Visual Analytics' automated analysis takes customer care to the next level - Part 1


You're the operations director for a major telco's contact center. Your customer-care workers enjoy solving problems. Turning irate callers into fans makes their day.

They also hate flying blind. They've been begging you for deeper insight into customer data to better serve their callers. They want to know which customers will likely accept offers and upgrades they're authorized to give. Their success = customer satisfaction = your company's success, right?

Automated analytics facilitate that level of insight, and this post introduces you to it. It will help you begin to think through what it looks like to equip your contact center workers to be heroes. Two subsequent posts will further demonstrate how SAS Visual Analytics leverages automated analytics.

What is automated analytics?

If you're already familiar with business intelligence tools, it's not a stretch to call automated analytics disruptive, significantly changing the way you see BI. In essence, automated analytics uses machine learning to find meaningful relationships between variables. It provides valuable insights in easy-to-understand text generated using natural language.

Automated analytics, which is expanding to include Artificial Intelligence, overcomes barriers to insight-driven business decisions by reducing:

  • Time to insights.
  • Bias in the analysis.
  • The need for more employee training.

An analyst-intensive approach to better insights

Now put your analyst hat on and imagine a day in the life of interpreting data visualizations. Pictured below is a report created to explore and visualize customers' interactions with a telecommunications company. It contains usage information from a subset of customers who have contacted customer care centers. Enhanced by adding cleansed demographics data, this report is being used to target customers for cross-sell or up-sell opportunities.

Note that the Private Label GM channel have the highest upgrade rate of 50%. This could mean that customers who purchased their plans through the Private Label GM channel were not well informed on their options and might have purchased a plan that did not fit their needs. We could investigate this further and see how we can assist our customers better when purchasing their plans through the Private label GM channel.
This report also shows us that the unknown handset type had the highest upgrade rate of all phone types. Unknown handset indicates that this customer brought their phone over from another company. So, this high upgrade rate is not surprising as a recent promotion targeted those users to switch their phones and upgrade.
The analysis showing our upgrade rate and total upgrades by plan type shows us that the Lotta Minutes Classic plan had the highest number of upgrades. This is not surprising as it also has the highest number of accounts. However, the Data Bytes Value plan had the highest upgrade rate but very few accounts. We could focus on the Unlimited SL plan customers and offer them upgrades, as they seem to be more likely to upgrade than customers on other plans and there are quite a few customers still on that plan.
From the analysis on the bottom we can see the correlation of other variables to our variable of interest, cross-sell and up-sell flag. We can see that, out of all the variables in this chart, Total Times Over Plan, Delinquent Indicator and Days Suspended Last 6M have the highest correlation to cross-sell and up-sell flag (darker teal color). However, if we were to mouse over them we'd see that they are only weakly correlated to upgrades.

What’s interesting here is that data plan is not correlated to our variable of interest, Xsell and Upsell flag. This tells me that if we had started a campaign targeted on Unlimited SL customers, we probably wouldn’t have much success.

We might want to target customers based on total days over plan or delinquent indicator or days suspended in the last 6 months, but they were only weakly correlated.

While this correlation provided great insight and may have prevented us from going down the wrong path, I had to physically choose the variables I wanted to include. I used my own logic and chose variables I thought might influence our variable of interest, Xsell and Upsell Flag.

Risk of mistakes, missed opportunity

But there are many other variables in this dataset. What if one of the other variables that I hadn’t thought of was correlated? I would miss some key findings. Or what if multiple variables in combination better predict our variable of interest, Xsell and Upsell Flag?

To dive deeper we could add a decision tree, or other charts to try to determine where we should focus our future efforts. This would take some time to build and we’d need to interpret the results on our own. However, if we use automated analysis the application would:

  • Choose the most relevant categories and measures.
  • Perform the most appropriate analytics for our data.
  • Provide us with results that are easy-to-understand.

Read Part 2 and Part 3

In subsequent posts, you'll see what happens when we turn loose the power of automated analytics with the SAS Viya Platform and let SAS Visual Analytics analyze all the measures and categories. Read Part 2 to find out what it entails to apply automated analysis on the data described above. Read Part 3 to see how automated analysis leads to actionable steps.

What's your experience with automated analytics? Share in the comments.


About Author

Melanie Carey

Senior Solutions Architect

Melanie Carey has worked at SAS for over 18 years. She started out as a consultant assisting customers on their Activity Based Costing models and Strategic Performance initiatives. She then worked on cutting edge initiatives like Social Media Analytics and Launch Revenue Optimization in the Emerging Technologies group. She has created numerous demo's for the field and has taken the lead for the Visual Analytics Interactive Reports available on Melanie currently works within Cloud and Information Services as the technical lead for SAS product trials.


  1. Christos Giannoulis on

    Hi Melanie,

    Might you be so kind and share with me a link of the documentation for SAS Viya automation?
    I am wondering what type of default analytics methods you use for modeling?
    Is it decision trees or something else?

    Thank you!

    • Melanie Carey
      Melanie Carey on

      Automated Analysis is explained well in this paper that was written by Rick Styll. Check out the "How Does Automated Analysis Work?" section. Let me know if you have further questions.

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