We have all called customer support lines and have heard the caveat that our calls may be recorded for “quality monitoring.” Sometimes it’s reminded us to be a little more selective with the words we use to describe our joys at being inconvenienced. Most of the time the admonition is ignored as we immediately push our case down the throat of some poor lowly paid call center worker, who may or may not be somewhere else in the world, reading from a script and not having a clue about the reason why we’re calling and how it absolutely positively has to be solved right now.
Perhaps because of our perceptions with whom we’re dealing on the other end of the line, our emotions can surge or subside during the course of a particular call; perhaps we actually know the person on the other end, a salesperson or other representative of the company of whom we’re a customer. Maybe we think we’re being lied to; maybe we’re doing a little lying ourselves (we did nothing wrong and have no idea why the product is not operating as promised). Maybe before we know it we’re actually buying into another solution, one that costs us more money than we were planning on spending.
Add your call to the thousands upon thousands of calls that a company receives at a call center. All of those conversations that prospects and customers are having are another valuable source of intelligence for Marketers. But how do you obtain that value – sit there and listen in, on a real time basis, to each call of a 75-person call center? Of course not.
There is a category of analytics tools called Speech Analytics (SA) that companies can use to mine the data in live and recorded audio and video streams. Like any other data set, a phone conversation can hold unstructured data most human beings cannot easily sort out and coordinate, especially relative to the data in the countless conversations that a firm can typically have on a regular basis.
To understand what customers are communicating as a group, a Marketer can look at several leading vendors for SA tools: Aurix, Autonomy etalk, CallMiner, Nexidia, NICE Systems, SER Solutions, Utopy, Verint Systems, and VPI.
These vendors possess various fortes in this niche, but the main thing to remember is that you must look beyond the mere words, tone and pitch used, and examine the groups, combination or complexity of words, the volume, speed, pauses, length of statement/response, interruptions, down to the actual phonetics of the words.
An SA capability can allow Marketers to classify happy or unhappy callers, flag high risk customers, isolate reps who deviate from policies (use of foul language, rudeness, abrupt hang-ups, etc.), and ultimately identify qualified prospects or existing customers ready for an upsell.
So shouldn’t a seasoned salesperson or customer satisfaction representative know how to identify and interact with any type of customer? Shouldn’t the CSAT rep know how to de-escalate a confrontational situation? Doesn’t a salesperson worth their commission zero in on qualified prospects and close them? Certainly. But this is about aggregating data and analyzing it, not depending on subjective, anecdotal observations by employees who may or may not be motivated to paying one hundred percent attention at any particular point in time with any particular customer.
Analytics could actually be used to train and support these employees, showing them how to respond to specific the speech patterns when there is no body language to see. While a loud, swearing customer presents an obvious situation, there are still other circumstances of customer dialogue that require a mind reader.
While mind readers could be in high demand, until there is a Bachelors degree in mind reading from an accredited university, SA tools will probably suffice. This is an exciting and developing facet of C4ISR Marketing and you will be hearing more about it in our profession.