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Two identical companies offering the same basic service in close proximity to each other is a daily experience in today’s competitive environment. In many instances, copying what someone else does well has replaced innovation. This has given rise to a new concept of service design that leads organizations to design and deliver service based on collaborative methods to beat seemingly identical competitors. Service design requires hard facts, data that gives decision makers the framework for strategic decisions. Customer interaction analytics, or “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) analytics as it is more commonly being referred to in an age where customer centricity is almost synonymous with viability, is the framework that provides real tangible facts about the customer experience. VoC analytics looks at the entire customer experience, an outside-in approach if you wish.
VoC analytics is a new concept for many companies that can be difficult to grasp, but the enterprises that do “get it” and implement solutions like the VoC Analytics platform offered by Verint Systems will have a head start against competition.
Researchers have shown a dramatic change in customer communication behavior. Where not too long ago the phone call was the first point of contact for most of us, the shift toward other types of communication is becoming prevalent. In fact, for more than 40% of customers today, the last resort is the telephone, often used to cancel a business relationship rather than build on it.
In an ultra-competitive landscape, where products are similar, if not identical, how can a company identify service advantages against competitors, recognize customer satisfaction, and pinpoint issues in the delivery of customer satisfaction? How can an enterprise build an early warning system against bad service experiences, customer complaints, and, most damaging, customer defections? VoC analytics lets you do just that.
For identical companies competing with virtually the same product, service is the differentiating factor. A successful company must become aware of situations that potentially disrupt the delivery of that service. With the social and Internet-based services available today, a customer complaint or experience may not be expressed via a telephone call as it used to be, and, even if it is, it may become lost amongst thousands of other calls if there isn’t a mechanism to surface such complaints or issues. More and more, customer complaints or experiences are posted on social Web sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Maybe the customer complains of poor service by writing an email or posting to a blog. Many times this is not to receive a discount or better offer, but rather to warn friends or the company itself of the situation.
A friend of mine travels a lot and decided to combine a business meeting with some family vacation time. At the gate, she found that the airline had seated her two young children away from her. When inquiring with gate staff about reseating her children with her, she was asked to board and switch seats with other passengers in order to accommodate her request. She was not happy with this and asked to speak to a supervisor. This took quite a bit of time and, while waiting, she tweeted to her followers about her situation. With over twenty thousand followers, she generated a great deal of reaction. A viral message was spreading.
Imagine this happening to your business. This customer experience was not taking place at the contact center. In comparison to other areas of the business, the contact center collects and analyzes more information than any other department. This information assists the contact center in providing better service, better use of its resources, and reducing costs – something any department wants to do. The contact center’s focus on how well it serves customers is easy to understand given its position on the front line. However, other departments have key roles to play in the service-driven organization. This includes back-office functions, such as order management, supply management, support, or product development, and branch offices. These all are part of the customer experience, but they very seldom get to hear the whole VoC. Likewise, the experiences here often are contained in silos, impeding the ability to look at and measure the customer experience holistically—across departments and channels. One reason these areas are not under the same detailed control and analysis as the contact center is that their operations have less strict workflows, which makes identifying improvements more difficult.
David Parcell, managing director and corporate officer EMEA at Verint, says in a comment to a recent survey of senior customer service and contact center management carried out by the CCA and sponsored by Verint, “There is huge potential in the information companies capture every day – insights into how customers are feeling, the suggestions they have for making things better, and the sources of frustration which can fast become a brand threat via social media.”
The majority of respondents to the CCA study believed that they could gain more insights from the customer service data they hold (voiced by 79 percent of respondents), and 82 percent agreed that insights gleaned from customer interactions could influence the products their companies provide.
How to listen to the “Voice of the Customer”
If you keep your ear to the ground, you try to keep informed about something, especially if there are rumors or uncertainties.
As you by now understand, there are many places that we must listen for the VoC. The phones are just not enough anymore. We need to understand:
What is being talked about
For years, systems used to record conversations in contact centers have provided contact center staff with the ability to analyze calls and how they communicate. Speech analytics uses these databases of recordings to find trends and issues primarily by mining through the content, but also by gauging the emotion of the caller. It is when we combine this information with other forms of communication that we can find patterns.
What feedback the customer is providing
One of the best ways to know how your customers feel about your service is to ask them, using customer feedback forms via the Internet and the telephone. They provide the company with valuable feedback on what customers think about its service experiences or even its products and processes. Customers provide feedback via direct answers to questions, but the goldmine is in the comment fields where customers can talk about their experience using their own words. Customer feedback surveys enable organizations to drill down and identify specific and actionable trends and improvement areas throughout the service process.
What is the viral message
A plethora of customer interactions today do not take place over the phone or in surveys, but in communication forums, social networks, blogs, chat sessions, and emails. If companies don’t handle or respond quickly to these situations, they can breed customer frustration. The voice call that ends the business relationship is only the very tip of the iceberg, where at any point earlier a defusing point of contact would be successful. Text analytics mine the sources of text-based communication across multiple channels to unearth potential pitfalls in customer service. These sources can be emails, chat sessions, CRM notes, Web-based communication, blogs, and social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
Create an early warning system
As you can imagine, the magnitude of the VoC information needed to be analyzed is mind blowing, making it imperative to have tools that prioritize the information and enables it to effectively reach the right department, the right area, and even the right person in the process.
This information must be presented at the appropriate time—real time might not be the right time at all. Adjusting a process requires more than real-time information. Wherever the process needs fixing, providing necessary information at the right time allows leaders to make informed, wider-impacting decisions, which is more important than anything. This requires tools that can analyze the data and identify trends and problem areas to generate real business intelligence that the enterprise can act upon. Whether it is conversations recorded in the contact center, emails between customers and workers in the support areas in the back office, online chats, SMS text messages, or social media comments or other interactions, companies need to gain insights from the many traces of customer relations that occur inside the walls of the enterprise or outside “in the cloud.”
By identifying these insights it is possible to pinpoint their root cause and make intelligent and well-founded process updates to staffing, training, tools, and quality. Thus the enterprise creates an early warning system enabling them to react to situations before they take on a viral effect that can cause serious damage to company core values.
By better understanding your customers’ behavior and where trends are emerging that can be proactively addressed before there is an escalation that will hurt your business can give you just the edge your company needs to compete. With a complete analysis of the VoC, your organization can react swiftly and accurately to tendencies and market developments that otherwise would be shrouded in darkness. VoC analytics will give your organization an early warning system.
This paper is sponsored by Verint.
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