Bridging the Customer Service Gap

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Customer Service
The way we communicate is rapidly changing. Texting is becoming the preferred means of mobile conversation and some companies are abandoning voice mail.

The way we communicate is rapidly changing. Texting is becoming the preferred means of mobile conversation and some companies are abandoning voice mail.

Organizations are under pressure to keep up with these changes while also providing fast and reliable service across multiple channels. And while progress is being made in understanding customer needs through speech analytics and other solutions, many organizations still struggle to close the gap between consumer expectations and services."There's a new breed of consumers today," noted Elan Moriah, corporate officer and president of Verint Systems' enterprise intelligence solutions, during a keynote speech at the company's Global Customer Conference in Las Vegas this week. "Consumers expect choices and they use numerous channels like chat, the phone, email, and social networks."

Speech analytics offers companies an opportunity to understand customers and spot opportunities to improve service and product experiences, noted Brian Miller, a workforce operations administrator for Thomson Reuters. "While speech analytics doesn't create innovation [per se], it's the vehicle for it," Miller said. "It causes people to realize that this is the voice of the customer telling us what they need and that causes us to make changes quickly."

As an example, Miller told me about a software product that first-time customers were having difficulty downloading. Through speech analytics, the company determined that the download process was not going smoothly and customers were becoming increasingly frustrated.

Miller's team shared these insights with other departments including technical communications, marketing, and development. The various teams then worked together to build a smoother and simpler installation process which led to 5,000 fewer calls about the software in two months. "When calls about downloads normally peak, they actually went down," Miller said. "This was a great example of how speech analytics helped us understand what needed to be fixed."

Indeed, speech analytics is gaining traction as the technology advances, maintained Nancy Treaster, senior VP and general manager of strategic operations for Verint enterprise intelligence solutions.

"Speech analytics started as a broad brush to get a basic understanding of your customers but now it has become more focused and targeted, which helps companies even more," Treaster said.

Many organizations, however, are still a long way from providing optimal customer service. In a survey of 1,000 consumers sponsored by Mattersight, which offers predictive behavioral analytics software, 75 percent of the respondents said they felt frustrated after speaking with a customer service agent, even if their problem was solved. This suggests that other problems occurred or the solution was short-sighted. And besides long wait times, the number one thing that annoys customer when contacting a call center is reaching customer service reps that don't understand their needs.

There could also be a disconnect between the customer experiences companies are focused on and what customers expect. A speaker representing a financial services company at Verint's conference, for example, mentioned that the company was experimenting with letting callers choose the music they listen to while on hold. Instead of spending resources on music selections, I imagine customers would prefer to have their calls quickly answered.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION