Voice & phone calls are more valuable than ever to businesses

James Slaney, co-founder of Dubber, discusses how modern technology is revolutionizing communications between customer and customer service advisors

Introduction    

With online interaction dominating the modern world, a phone call feels special. Phone calls are reserved for the important stuff – for the decision that needs to be made there and then, for the question that requires an immediate response – we pick up the phone when we just need to get things done.  

There are numerous benefits to making a phone call and communicating through voice when conducting business. Three key strengths are: the ability to listen in, read between the lines, and ability to measure success of phone calls. All of which are extremely valuable to a business, as they have the potential to gain true insights and meaning into how the call went.   

Listening in  

The ability to ‘listen in’ is reflected in how customers contact companies when they need assistance: research by LivePerson found that a phone call was the most commonly chosen method of communication at 61%. When looking for online assistance, 71% of customers wanted help within 5 minutes or less. The majority of customers looking to buy also choose to call a company rather than contacting them online. According to RingBoost both Google and xAd, two of the leading digital advertising networks, found that a click-to-call option on ads was highly successful – with 51-62% of users choosing this option.  

On top of the immediacy offered by a phone call, there is science behind why verbal communication is so effective. According to researchers at MIT hearing is the fastest sense, with sound taking only 10 milliseconds to reach the brain compared to 13-80 milliseconds for sight. This means as a customer we are able to process and decipher what is told to us over the phone faster than we’re able to consume what we look at online.  

With customers 11 times more likely to complain over the phone than via the internet, according to research from Arizona State University, these phone calls are also a valuable opportunity to turn a negative experience into an improved relationship. Customer interactions that take place over the phone create a much better opportunity for a meaningful connection. Your customer is right there, willing to speak to you, and you can answer any questions they might have immediately. Up-selling and cross-selling also comes much more natural over the phone. Only a face-to-face conversation could produce better results.  

Reading between the lines  

Written communication can be open to interpretation. It’s the very reason for the enduring magic of books, but it can result in misunderstandings in the corporate world of hurried emails, especially in an overstuffed inbox. Without the indicators of tone and meaning, simple sentences can be misconstrued to drastic effect. When clarification is needed over the phone, you can get an answer immediately. Complex technical queries are always best discussed with a call as the instant feedback can alleviate confusion quickly, whereas a series of emails might only further complicate things.  

On a phone call you can hear the emotion of the speaker’s voice – their intonation and volume of speech can often say more than their words. Customer service agents can tell if a customer isn’t fully happy with the resolution of their complaint, while sales agents can get a better sense of how to entice a new client.    

Sentiment analysis can automatically identify a speaker’s emotions on recording and provides a snapshot report. Call sentiment is achieved by analysing characteristics of the speaker’s tone of voice, stress levels and speed of speech. Additionally, specific phrases are analysed to harness a comprehensive understanding of the caller’s sentiment. Again this is tool that currently is underutilised by organisations, but has the potential to transform the way in which they communicate with their customers and their own performance when handling calls.    

Measuring the success of phone calls  

The importance of phone calls is clear, and because of this, customer service agents who excel at building relationships with customers are more valuable than ever. However, contact centre workers can feel like they lack clear objectives and that their work can’t be effectively measured. In order to provide customer service agents with reports on their success, call intelligence solutions can be utilised to conduct sentiment analysis of calls and measure the customer’s experience throughout the conversation. Call recording analytics allows a deep insight into the content of your communication. Not only does this give workers valuable feedback on their work and progress, their supervisors receive an insight into their interactions with customers and can use this information to improve their work practices and train new members of staff effectively.  

The benefits of email and instant messaging are the paper trail that they leave behind. With a call recording solution that provides transcripts of your conversations, you can have all the benefits of phone calls with the reassurance that you can track and record your communications.  

Smart search capabilities, enable users to run advanced searches to locate previous recordings through a series of metrics such as sentiment, date, location, specific phrases and much more. Of course just because it’s easier to get a clear message across on a phone call, doesn’t mean that true meaning or key words can’t be misconstrued. Call recording and voice analytics, enables organisations to intelligently track specific phrases and keywords, and can even link them into an organisation’s CRM system to automatically flag a call for further action to the relevant department.   

Conclusion  

Understanding the “voice” of your customer is a vital part of doing business. The conversations you have often provide the insights you need to drive your business’ growth, while also enabling you to better understand your clients. The evolution of communications has adapted to the growing 24/7 working world, with calls taking place at all hours of the day.   

Of course, it’s not always practical or possible to give our undivided attention to the person we are talking to on the phone, and the distractions around us, or futile attempts to multi-task and take notes of a call, often mean we’re missing crucial information on a first listen. Thanks to the leaps forward in artificial intelligence and machine learning in recent years, organisations have been empowered to mine voice data to produce automated actionable insights for the first time, and a digital paper trail for voice communications. 

James Slaney, Co-Founder of Dubber 

Image Credit Niekverlaan / Pixabay