A Google search returns more than a million results for “voice of customer” (VoC) but Jack Welch’s quote on gaining competitive advantage is the simplest way to define voice of customer, quoting him, “learn more about our customers faster than competition; turn that learning into action faster than the competition.”
As touch points and communication channels have increased so has the amount of available data and ways to collect VoC. If your customer says it, writes it, or clicks it, you should be able to collect, analyze and act on it faster than your competition.
This has clearly separated customer experience leaders from laggards. According to Forrester and others customer experience leaders grow revenue five times faster than CX laggards, drive higher brand preference and can charge a premium for their products.
The obvious and most common way to collect customer feedback is through customer surveys. But times have changed and organizations can no longer expect consumers to respond to long tedious surveys through inconvenient channels. Survey questions need to be short and dynamic and ask the right question at the right time to the right person. Effective enterprise feedback management requires a scalable and unified approach across all channels both assisted and self-service.
But even the best survey platforms do not collect the entire VoC story. The richest source of VoC typically lies within unstructured communication channels such as email, chat, social media and especially voice conversations.
The contact center continues to be the heart of extremely rich and valuable VoC through recorded contact center calls. A five-minute phone call is typically over a thousand words and filled with insights about customer preferences, opinions, emotions, sentiment, loyalty and even perceptions about competing products and brands.
Surprisingly the explosion of digital channels has not actually reduced the volume or need for human contact. Contact center phone interactions have not decreased for most organizations, and have become more complex and more critical to retaining customers. These human conversations now also support and provide back-up failure points for new self-service and digital channels.
A research study in 2016 commission by Verint in association with Opinium Research LLP, Interviewed 24,000 consumers in countries including 2000 consumers in India found that 79% of consumers wanted direct person contact to remain part of customer service, 74% didn’t like dealing with companies that didn’t provide a phone number on the website and 65% felt they receive better service when speaking to a person on the phone or in a store. The research also found that the human touch also improves lasting loyalty and can even impact whether or not consumers were likely to leave a positive review on online channels.
Leading customer experience companies leverage all these sources of VoC to create a full picture of the customer journey
Typical use cases of leveraging voice of the customer analytics to achieve competitive advantage include:
Digital Channel Strategy
Many organizations are focused today on shifting assisted service to self-service through introduction of new digital channels. The launch of any new digital channel such as a mobile app requires constant monitoring and updating. Typically when the new channels is launched there many issues and customers who try and fail will typically call into traditional channels such as the contact center. Applying speech analytics can quickly identify calls associated with self-service failure, and the associated root cause. Acting on these insights can help fine-tuned the new digital channels quickly and significantly increase adoption. Speech and text analytics can also help monitor that the contact center agents effectively promote the new digital channels and help customers adopt them.
One of the largest telecom providers in Asia used speech analytics as part of their digital strategy and identified that 25% of their calls had to do with customers not understanding their bill. Proactive communication via SMS and constant updates to the website and IVR – helped eliminate over 10% of these calls, reducing service cost and helping increase self-service containment and improving overall customer satisfaction.
Increasing customer satisfaction
Many organizations typically apply post interaction surveys to identify brand promoters and detractors, but response rates to these types of surveys have dropped and can go below 5% of your customer base.
One of India’s leading BPO’s leveraged speech analytics to build a predictive model that could accurately predict whether a customer was a promoter or detractor simply based on their phone interaction with the contact center. They then created a workflow reaching out to the lowest detractors and managed to convert many to become promoters. This not only significantly improved the customer satisfaction metrics but also opened up new revenue opportunities significantly increasing sales conversion rates.
In addition to improving customer satisfaction this BPO leveraged additional insights from use of speech and text analytics to significantly reduce their operating costs by eliminating repeat calls, reducing handle time, eliminating unnecessary silence time, holds and transfers and addressing specific agent knowledge gaps.
Reducing customer churn
A leading international financial organization used a similar approach to build a predictive model for customer churn based on historic customer conversations. When leveraging speech analytics they identified what terms and phrases customers use when they call before they actually cancel their account. New inbound calls were monitored for these terms and phrases automatically and sorted by account value. They then reached out to the high-value customers identified as being at risk and managed to save over 86% of them with a team of just four retention agents saving over US$12 million within the first year.
Speech and text analytics solutions can also help automate compliance processes reducing exposure and risk especially for financial organizations or any industry that is regulated. An international insurance company used speech analytics to identify potential risky interactions when agents provided illegal advice or guidance. The solution managed to identify that 0.8% of all interactions included potential risks, those were then funneled to a compliance team who found that one third of these actually posed a real breach and risk for the organization. This automated process allow them to quickly rectify any potential breach and significantly reduce future fines and PR nightmares.
Human to human channels such as phone and email always open the opportunity for potential upsell and cross sell. But there is usually a significant difference between the top performers and bottom performers and in many cases the root cause of these differences is not clear. Applying speech and text analytics allows to automatically compare the actual words and phrases used by your top and bottom sales performers. This can surface the key magic words and phrases that lead to more successful outcomes.
A leading international bank used this strategy to identify that the existing sales script was actually limiting their sales conversion rates. Agents who followed that script typically convert only 6% of the time. While other agents who did not follow the official script but asked probing questions and positioned the offer as a response to a specific customer need converted over 50% of the time. Once identified through use of analytics this new strategy was applied to all other agents, significantly boosting sales conversion rates over the phone channel.
In the coming decade India would be a $6 trillion economy and will be fuelled by digitization. These new digital channels of customer engagements would still be dependent on traditional human assisted channels for support. Mining these assisted channels is the key to this successful transition.
Organizations who strive to be customer experience leaders must leverage a complete and holistic voice of the customer strategy and platform to collect and mine customer insights across channels and translate those insights into actions as quickly as possible to achieve competitive differentiation and CX leadership.