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In A World Driven by Technology, Customers Need Human Connection

Future customer conversations will be with artificial intelligence, but also with humans.

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Future customer conversations will be with artificial intelligence, but also with humans.

Opinions

In A World Driven by Technology, Customers Need Human Connection

Future customer conversations will be with artificial intelligence, but also with humans.

Share this article

Earlier this year, insurance giant Aviva asked all of its 16,000 employees if they believed a robot could do their jobs. If their answer was yes, they were offered training and the opportunity to transfer to a new department.

The majority of employees who answered yes were from two departments, one of which was the call centre. This bold move not only created headlines; it placed a spotlight on a very real debate within the customer services industry.

Now, call centres are trying to find balance between human employees and leveraging new technology, and they’re finding that the answer lies in using technology to empower human employees to deliver a great customer experience.

The customer services industry often talks in extremes, especially with claims such as bots will replace humans when it comes to providing customer support. It’s in these extremes where brands can miss opportunities to better interact and engage with customers. The reality is, just because a robot can do a job, does not mean it should.

Many brands are now left wondering about the future of customer service and whether it will become automated, removing the human element.  However, that future is ripe with opportunity to blend technology and a human touch.

The reassurance of a human voice or the empathy of a person dealing with a difficult query will always be needed, and companies must continue to offer an option for consumers to speak with a human being.

However, there are times when customers will want quick answers to simple questions, making bots the communication method of choice.

For this strategy to be successful, companies must use automated technology when it fits, but also enact the right strategies to empower customer service representatives with the right tools do create a better, more personalized customer experience.

Empowering Agents Through Speech Analytics

With the vast array of available technology, brands have limitless opportunities to improve the customer experience and build long-term relationships with customers.

For example, speech analytics allows brands to gather insights into customer needs and sentiment and then act on this information to better engage with customers and solve potential issues quickly.

With speech analytics, conversations are recorded and translated into text. Brands receive notifications when a customer or agent uses a set of pre-determined keywords or phrases.

The use of these words may flag a common problem or sentiment, or they may highlight new, rare queries that disclose previously unknown opinions or needs.

Analysts can then further drill down into the conversation to better understand the context, all of which allows them to make informed decisions about future customer engagement strategies.

When brands capture substantial amounts of conversation information, this data becomes a powerful source of customer information. By understanding patterns, companies can identify common queries, problems, or sentiment, and they can enact training strategies to better equip customer service representatives to successful manage these conversations.

When agents are better prepared, they can more skillfully navigate difficult conversations or delight customers with their knowledge an expertise, which all rolls up to a better, more positive customer experience.

In addition, topic modeling tools apply machine learning and natural language processing to analyze speech-to-text conversation data, which can identify trends within customer conversations before they become larger issues.

With topic modeling, brands can uncover abstract topics within data sets by finding related words and determining connections between those themes. By categorizing conversations by concept rather than keyword or phrase, call centre agents can proactively address issues and subsequently increase customer satisfaction.

Broadening the Call Centre’s Reach

Speech analytics gives brands great insight into customer sentiment, but those insights should not stay within the walls of the call centre. In every conversation, customers are giving critical information about products, marketing, and overall customer service.

This information should be shared across the entire company in order to make any necessary improvements to all parts of the customer journey. By implementing speech analytics, brands are cementing the importance of human employees, and they’re giving those employees the right tools to positively impact the entire organization.

As brands weigh the benefits of technology versus humans, it’s important to remember that it isn’t one or the other. It’s the combination of both that gives customers quick, easy experiences with bots as well as more productive and meaningful experiences with well-trained agents.

With the right technology, brands can elevate the role of call centre agents into customer service specialists and, in a world dominated by technology, use that technology to deliver the personalized, human touch that consumers so desperately want.

Todd Marthaler is an analytics consultant at Calabrio.

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In A World Driven by Technology, Customers Need Human Connection

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