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Can Intelligent Advisor be used for simple data collection?

Fiona Guy
Senior Principal Product Manager

I am often asked whether Intelligent Advisor can be used for simple or 'dumb data' collection and my response is usually to ask "why would you?".  

The reasons for collecting data of a user is usually to learn and grow, to make decisions, to understand, and those are... well... far from dumb.

Let's break it down into some categories: 

"It is for use by our service agents"

... for what purpose?

"We use it to make a decision... later"

That's great. Making decisions is a good use of Intelligent Advisor, but why are you making the end user wait for the decision to be made? If there is guidance that can be provided at the time of the customer inquiry, wouldn't it be preferable to do so? Perhaps the consumer is reporting a power outage, but have come to the wrong agency, or perhaps the citizen is applying to hold a street party, but the suggested time of 4am would never be approved. You could simply tell them that. Using the data collected to provide a personalized, real-time response for clear-cut cases provides a much better end user experience, and immediate savings in call deflection.

In my previous blog Shades of Gray: Balancing quick advice with discretionary decision making, I discuss how even discretionary decisions are bounded by principles that can be used to guide an agent down the appropriate path, while still leaving the decision in their hands. When collecting data using Intelligent Advisor, anything that may be of use to an agent, such as decision guidance, prohibited decisions, generated documents and decision letters can all be calculated and saved with the information collected. The agent who eventually picks up the record, is therefore given the best opportunity to make a fair, accurate and legally compliant decision. 

Quote: Using the data collected to provide a real-time response for clear-cut cases provides a much better end user experience, and immediate savings in call deflection.

"It's like a survey"

What motivation is there for the consumer to complete the survey? Are they genuinely interested in learning more about the product, or are they providing feedback on the services provided? Using Intelligent Advisor logic and reasoning to decide what information should be presented or what actions should be taken in response to that feedback presents a great opportunity for initiating discussion or proactively improving service.

The example I like to use is one of a sales agent asking a customer to answer a short survey after test driving a car. An experienced agent sitting with the customer would use the responses to trigger discussion. For example, if the customer indicated the vehicle did not provide sufficient storage, an experienced agent, or Intelligent Advisor, could suggest an addition of a roof rack, larger model or another response tailored to the customer's specific feedback. Responses to whether the vehicle was clean or the salesperson's manner could be used by Intelligent Advisor to create back-end tasks such as prompting a review of the cleaning schedule or to suggest additional staff training.

Quote: An experienced agent sitting with the customer would use the responses to trigger discussion

It should be noted at this point that Intelligent Advisor is not a survey tool, it does not provide opt-out mechanisms, response tracking or other features native in a fully-fledged survey platform. If these features are required, or the responses are not being used to actively make decisions to improve the customer experience, then a survey tool may be a better fit.  

"We have to"

I often hear that the collection of data is solely to meet business or regulatory requirements, it is not actually 'used' by the business. Although I would contend that even the strictest of regulatory systems have a reason behind the data collection, 'tick the box' requirements can still benefit from intelligent forms. Using Intelligent Advisor's decision logic to display necessary fields keeps kick-backs to a minimum by ensuring all required data is collected, first time, and provides an automatic audit report for every decision to hit your compliance targets.  

But... does it matter?

In short, yes. There are plenty of options for simple forms at lower price points than Intelligent Advisor. If you are not looking at the purpose of the data collection, and leveraging it to improve customer service, then you are unlikely to see solid return on that investment. Other tools may provide a more cost effective option for pure data input.  


In summary, 'dumb' data collection is often not as dumb as we think. The collection of simple inputs can provide a great opportunity to provide outstanding customer service. Whether you take it to that level, is up to you. 


Image credit: David Clode via Unsplash



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Comments ( 1 )
  • Richard Napier Wednesday, October 28, 2020
    Hello Fiona

    I really enjoy reading your excellent articles and cannot thank you enough for all you do for the Intelligent Advisor community.

    In this particular case I am moved to respond because I think there are a couple of points that need to be addressed from the other side of the fence (namely, at the customer).

    My first comment concerns the "It's like a survey" paragraph. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this from customers (in different countries & languages), I would have a lot of dollars. I am given to believe that it is generally not the customer that has come to that conclusion alone - I'm implying, and I'm fairly convinced I'm not doing it without foundation, that this messaging is coming from Sales personnel who do not have the knowledge they need to position and sell Intelligent Advisor by focusing on it's real strengths. I'm not alone in thinking / hearing this. There is therefore perhaps a need to focus on transferring knowledge to sales personnel who are responsible for selling it, to avoid positioning it in this way.

    My second comment is in respect of the whole "survey" concept. One very interesting example of a dynamic (hundreds of surveys per year, per customer) and intelligent (lots of logic embedded as to parent / child questions, visibility rules, margin and volume compared to perfect stores / promotion suggestions based on performance) "survey" is the kind you will find in large retail operations with sales forces who visit physical shops daily, and who perform these surveys on the spot with the customer or these days, get on the phone and do it live.

    In the olden days we would have used Siebel with a simple UI for building survey metadata (question types and so on) and then execute the survey on the front end as end users. It seems to me that Intelligent Advisor would be a great tool for that, but I have not seen anything like an Example Project that takes on that challenge. Just my thought for the day.

    Keep well and safe!
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