For many consumers, “customer service” is one of those modern oxymorons that means the opposite of what it is supposed to. Phone calls to customer service numbers are only for the brave, or for those who like to hear muzak while they get a runaround. Sometimes it seems so bad it’s as if they companies were trying to discourage customers from calling.

Which they may be — but those that do are just fooling themselves if they think they can save money by cutting corners on customer service. When it comes to customer service, what’s good for the client is good for the company both in service and sales, says CEO Efrat Rosenberg of ROI Customers, which helps businesses improve their call center performance (CCP) systems.

Rosenberg says her company’s services can help companies increase sales and retain customers, using a proprietary system to analyze what happens during customer service calls and how it affects sales and customer satisfaction. The system, she says, makes very clear that helping customers achieve their goals is key to phone success for businesses.

But don’t take her word for it, she told The Times of Israel: “We count among our customers some of Israel’s largest companies, including the HOT cable company, Harel Insurance, the Fattal hotel chain, Mizrahi Bank, and others.” Using ROI’s system, data on customer service calls is converted into business intelligence (BI), which companies can apply to their sales and marketing projects.

Rosenberg is considered one of the country’s leading experts on customer service BI matters. In one study, for example, she determined that, perhaps unexpectedly, the less time a customer service spends on the phone with a potential customer, the more likely it is s/he will make a sale. According to the BI statistics the CCP system has gathered, the “magic number” for a phone call by a salesperson is six minutes; keep a customer on the phone beyond that time, and sales fall significantly. Not only that; the longer a service call takes, the less customers are satisfied. If customers can’t wrap up their business in less than 10 minutes, satisfaction rates plummet.

The data can be used to increase the productivity of phone agents, as well. Using the intelligence information, Rosenberg said, companies can determine where agents’ weak points are, come up with new scripts or training program for phone personnel, or change their policies. “We usually don’t think of it in this manner, but seconds saved equals money saved. One of our clients was able to shave 10 seconds off each customer service call, and ended up saving millions of shekels a year,” she said.

Once call center data is converted into quantifiable business intelligence, it can be used to make a company more efficient. For example, instead of considering workers’ “average” performance, the data can be used to examine how and when workers are more effective — what time of day they perform best, what products they are most successful at selling/servicing, what their specific strengths and weaknesses are, etc. “Not paying attention to the details very often causes managers to make the wrong decisions,” she said.

“The path to change lies in attaining knowledge, and using it,” said Rosenberg, and that same path, as it turns out, leads to customer satisfaction — giving customers the service they want and need quickly and efficiently, allowing them to get back to living their lives, and letting service personnel clear up other issues. “That,” said Rosenberg, “is what correct use of business intelligence can do.”