A Resounding Call for a Human Voice Element to Remain

iStock-493217385_speech bubbles_white background_resized.pngThere has been much said recently about digital disruption and the exponential growth in the use of digital means of interaction between consumers and organizations. Rightly so! Facebook itself has approximately 1.8 billion users and almost all consumers are armed with smartphones.

These and other digital means, including increasingly sophisticated and cognitive messaging and chatbot capabilities, are steering routine customer service interactions toward self-service and virtual agent interactions.

Does that mean that contact centers and customer service departments can stop investing in voice-based interactions and associated technologies? Not yet! I hypothesize that voice-based interactions—phone calls—will continue to be the dominant mode of interaction in the majority of contact centers globally for the next 2 – 4 years. And, they will co-exist with self-service and digital channels for another 4 years or more after that.  

This implies that capabilities such as speech analytics continue to be vital for superior and consistent customer engagement across all modes of interaction. Let’s look at a few research data points and understand why.

Despite the exponential growth of the digital channels, the phone call still remains the most widely used mode of interaction. In fact, a recent Verint survey of 24,000 consumers in 12 countries showed some surprising consumer preferences. When asked about the future of customer service, the results are clear. The vast majority (83 percent) believe that speaking to a customer service representative on the phone or in store will always be important.

WHY? Because, ultimately, humans can process many pieces of information at once. They are able to manage requests with broad parameters while picking up on non-verbal cues and displaying empathy and emotional intelligence.

So, what does this mean? Organizations that embrace digital may be on the pathway to success, but those who do so at the expense of traditional customer service risk falling behind. Phone service is still critical.

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Considering that more complex interactions are channeled via a phone call, it is even more important and definitely not too late to invest in—and/or fine-tune—your speech analytics program. 

Remember, a voice call is the richest source of information. A five-minute call is about 1,000 words—lots of data for speech analytics to help you glean actionable intelligence to put to work within your organization. Speech analytics can surface trends, leading and lagging indicators of customer sentiment, and important issues. 

This is particularly relevant in today’s “instant” world, because it can help address problems before they virally explode on social media and other digital channels. 

We can see that voice channels and speech analytics are absolutely necessary for the foreseeable future. While digital is growing, speech analytics can tell you what’s happening in the phone channel, and text analytics can offer a view into the text-based channels such as chat that your organization uses. Armed with the data these solutions offer together, you can hear the voice of the customer—quite literally—and use the insights to offer loyalty-enhancing customer experiences.

 

1 Figure 2 originally appeared in the Verint White Paper: The Digital Tipping Point, page 5, October 2016

 

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