This article was originally published in CEOWORLD Magazine
Making good use of data is now universally accepted as critical to competing in today’s business landscape. As new technologies emerge, how we acquire and analyze that data will be key to a company’s survival. One of the most exciting new opportunities is real-time voice analytics, which is already providing insights about customer intentions. And customers are ready for the benefits of speech recognition technology.
Computer speech recognition is still imperfect, but now that most platforms report error rates of under 5%, we’re seeing widespread deployment and public acceptance. Consumers are warming to the technology, with products and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa growing in popularity. Clutch found that 69% of people use a digital assistant every day, and Google reported that nearly two-thirds of those who use voice-activated speakers plan to use them to make purchases.
Businesses are ready for speech recognition technology, too. We’ve reached a point in the history of speech recognition technology where leaders have stopped asking what it is and starting implementing speech analytics solutions.
A number of factors prompted that shift. For instance, we’ve seen a push to break down departmental silos and share data generated from live chat sessions and, more recently, customer voice analytics. Another is an increasingly customer-centric approach, where customers’ voices become an important foundation for all business decisions. Taken as a whole, we’re entering into a new age of what might be called “conversational commerce.”
3 Ways Real-Time Speech Analysis Benefits Companies
There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages of speech recognition software. These systems aren’t free, and they require training and implementation. But that effort is well worth it. To be well-positioned to ride this new wave, it’s useful for business leaders to know some specific applications and benefits of speech recognition technology. Here are a few ways that real-time speech analysis will be a game-changer in the years ahead.
1. Reduce Customer Service Response Times
Because speech analysis is integrated into intelligent decision-making engines, today’s companies have vastly more options for addressing customer issues in a timely manner. These systems can, for example, listen to a customer expressing a complaint about a product, understand the nature of the complaint, and automatically generate offers that an agent can present to the customer to resolve the complaint.
The power of this approach is that speech analytics is good enough to recognize not just that a customer is complaining, but specifically what he or she is complaining about. For large companies with multiple product or service offerings, this is critical because it can allow for customized offers that match carefully to customers’ situations. When that happens, customers feel like they are being heard and understood — and that’s one of the best ways to increase brand loyalty.
2. Boost Customer Recruitment and Retention
Recruiting and retaining customers is vital to growing your base, but losing them during a phone conversation can happen quickly. Any tools that can potentially prevent this from occurring are invaluable, and speech analytics software should be central to this mission.
For example, MetLife is using a system called Cogito, an “empathy advisor” with origins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the hopes that it will be able to detect when customer interest is waning during sales calls. The goal is to enable insurance salespeople to quickly catch any warning signs and respond appropriately.
The system has already demonstrated returns: According to Kristine Poznanski, MetLife’s executive vice president of customer solutions, customer satisfaction is up and call duration is down — both of which should boost retention and recruitment. Even the Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted Cogito to help staffers detect possible changes in patients’ mental health.
3. Gamify the Call Center and Enhance Agent Engagement
Your business doesn’t just need to retain customers; it also needs to retain call center agents. Attrition rates for call centers sit between 20% and 35%, likely due to the repetitive nature of the role and the difficulty in quantifying progress. But speech analytics systems now allow business leaders to respond to this problem by gamifying the call center experience.
Real-time speech analytics software can provide a running scoreboard of customer interactions. Such clear feedback alone can be very reassuring to a call center agent. But it also allows for various “games” among call center employees, such as who can achieve the highest score in terms of customer satisfaction and positive sentiment expressed in calls.
This makes what previously seemed like an endless stream of chaotic moments into a more controlled process that agents can take pride in. That will help with job satisfaction and employee retention.
Real-time analytics is here, and companies that begin implementing them now to gather customer intelligence, speed up problem-solving and enliven their call centers will enjoy productivity gains and increased sales in the years ahead. Fortunately, off-the-shelf solutions that can transform your phone-based customer service operations are already available.
The benefits of speech recognition technology are too important to ignore. Start today with research. Prepare your company to enter this exciting new era of customer service, and get ready to enjoy the rewards that come with it down the road.