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This post was co-authored by Holger Reisinger is SVP of Business Solutions at Jabra.
Years ago, I predicted that corporate contact centers would venture into big data to offer an improved and more personalized customer experience. Admittedly, my prediction wasn’t incredibly bold compared to those of flying cars, but it did come true. And now, contact centers are digitizing and aggregating every customer interaction that occurs via phone, social media, email, instant message or even in person. And with that, they’re gaining a robust, fully referenceable, 360-degree view of every customer.
Following this move into big data, contact centers are using speech analytics to take their products, processes and customer service efforts to the next level. Speech analytics is the process of digitally analyzing interactions between customers and agents. And even though the technology has been around for more than a decade, recent advancements in digitalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have made it more powerful and have enabled contact centers to transform mountains of data into real-time insights.
Digitalizing conversations and comparing key indicators against a database lets companies forecast if a customer call is heading in the right direction or if the interaction is going off the rails. They can evaluate the pitch and tone of a customer’s voice against predetermined benchmarks to surmise if that customer is satisfied, upset or frustrated. And by studying pauses, silence or crosstalk during the conversation, they can determine how successfully the agent answers questions or resolves issues.
Embracing Big Data at the Right Time
The benefits of speech analytics in customer service are enormous. The speech analytics market has moved from just a couple dozen companies using the technology in 2003, to more than 3.5 million businesses using it in 2015. And the numbers have been growing at a double-digit rate since then.
This embrace of big data comes at an opportune time—not just for organizations that use contact centers but also for the economy in general. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures customer satisfaction across the US, has remained stuck at 76.7% for more than a year. While that’s just a fraction of a point below its all-time high, it’s the longest stretch of stagnation since ACSI began in 1994.
Sure, it may be tempting to think that numbers that remain unchanged are better than decreasing numbers. But changes in aggregate customer satisfaction are a good predictor of future consumer spending. So, a stagnant national ACSI score is a troubling sign for the economy because it portends average economic growth at best.
Pointing the Needle North Again
Voice analytics might just be the force to point the customer satisfaction needle northward. By using big data-based voice analytics properly, organizations have the insights to overcome the thorniest issues that bedevil today’s customer service efforts. They can readily identify common issues that typically prompt customer calls, resolve more problems on the first contact, shorten call handle times, and even improve the quality of their product and service offerings.
And that’s just the beginning. Speech analytics and AI together will enable contact centers to instantly analyze customer conversations and provide real-time prompts on how to best handle calls. For instance, if the system picks up cues that an agent is struggling, or a customer is becoming disgruntled, it could prompt the agent to transfer the call to a more knowledgeable agent or supervisor. Alternatively, if the system determines that a customer seems amenable to additional products or services, it can provide the agent with a menu of cross-sell or up-sell opportunities—and even a suggested sales script.
All of this means the improved customer experience I predicted and, perhaps, a much-needed jolt to the ACSI score and economy in general. I’m not going out on a limb and saying it’s a sure thing, but you can bet I’ll be watching closely.
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