Connecting Tech to Enable Human Connection
By itel's Director of Local Affairs, Administration & Strategy
Customer service is no longer a numbers game. Yes, quick response times and call handle times are important metrics in a call center environment. But as brands look to build life-long relationships with customers, companies are showing more focus on gathering data that allows them to understand their customers on a much deeper level. It’s become more important to understand what a customer needs than how fast a question is answered. And since relationship building has become the best predictor of brand loyalty, customer experience (CX) providers are investing in technologies that focus on connection.
Sentiment Analysis Used for Deeper Customer Connection
Connection comes on several levels. First, there’s the connection a customer has with a brand. After two years of store closures, lockdowns, and supply chain issues, people are feeling frustrated, and might feel disconnected from the brands they used to love. Perhaps a product wasn't delivered on time, or maybe there was a backorder. If you add a negative experience with a customer service agent, you could lose that customer forever.
This is when relationship management is key. We've turned a corner in this industry, and we’ve started to listen to what the customer really wants. But we also need the right tools for that, and that’s where technology comes into play.
Sentiment analysis tools have become a game changer in the customer experience industry, leading to a 30% increase in customer satisfaction scores and 90% increase in positive customer feedback. Coupled with AI, sentiment analysis allows us to gain granular information and an in-depth understanding of what happens during a call. We can identify trends in customer queries and concerns, even on a geographic level. We can also show call type patterns, to see if there are operational challenges that need to be addressed, such as issues with travel bookings or flight disruptions due to COVID.
This type of information can then be passed on to the business client, so they can make decisions that allow them to improve the overall customer experience. It allows companies to alter workflows and to pivot operations quickly, which is so important in the unpredictable markets and economies we’re experiencing today.
These tools can also improve agent performance. Using AI to analyze and dissect calls, we can pinpoint areas for improvement, like specific instances where an agent could have personalized the conversation or could have positioned an upsell. We can coach agents on the tone they use, the words they choose - every aspect of that interaction. It empowers agents to really recognize their strengths and weaknesses and to improve their soft skills, such as problem-solving, de-escalation, and empathy.
AI & Gamification Increases Retention and Employee Engagement
Agents also need to feel supported, skilled, and ready to serve these in-depth customer relationships. What we’ve come to understand is that people have individual learning styles and learn best when training curriculums appeal to them on a personal level. New gamification tools make learning fun by introducing personalized games, quizzes, or videos, to train agents in a way that connects with them.
Gamification also allows employees to upskill at their own pace, and studies have shown that it improves knowledge retention by 40%. At itel, gamification has led to a 95% graduation rate and a much faster speed to proficiency. People can progress at an astounding pace, quickly moving up within the organization. Many of our agents started off taking calls and are now Operation Managers, Quality Assurance Leads or even executives.
AI-enabled calling platforms allow us to see where agents need individual support and where there are gaps in learning. These insights can then be fed into training curriculums to facilitate a rapid expansion of skillsets. Training teams can collaborate with agents on an individual basis to create true development plans which allows us to accelerate career paths. And this also creates connection and engagement by providing agents with the opportunities and skills they need to develop professionally and personally.
All of this leads to lower attrition and better employee retention rates. This also trickles down to how agents interact with customers. It’s a big part of the philosophy we follow at itel, that employee experience equals customer experience. Happy agents will just perform better.
Clients Gain Valuable Business Insights & CX Partners
From the client side, recent technologies give companies the opportunity to really understand their customers and their business operations. The level of data collection is astounding. Detailed reports can give incredible insights into workflow management, customer relationships, operations, and even new product development. It’s allowed itel to shape and improve the customer journey for many clients, across many verticals, from insurance, to healthcare, tourism, and retail. And it’s led to overall customer satisfaction scores around 87%.
No longer acting as 3rd party external entities, outsourced CX providers have become vital partners by providing the data and insights needed for clients to make fast business decisions. Those that are accessible, hands-on, and willing to work closely with brands, like itel, have become almost like natural extensions of internal operations teams.
It’s also about connecting the dots for clients, so they can gain a better understanding of which technologies will benefit them, how they can digitize quickly yet strategically, and what data can provide them with the insights they need.
It’s Not What You Use, but How You Use It
These new technologies at our disposal have been the biggest enabler of human connection, and though we’re employing more sophisticated tools and programs, it’s really about getting back to the basics of customer service. What matters to customers? How can we serve them better?
At the end of the day, it’s all about the quality of data, the usefulness of the insights, and how they can be applied to customer experience management. CX partners do more than just answer calls. They can supply analysis and recommendations that can lead to a more seamless customer journey. We can create omnichannel ecosystems for your brand that allow customers to connect in the way they prefer, while gathering crucial data on what truly matters most to your customer base.
The important question to ask is what are your technologies doing for you? Is your current tech allowing you to gather feedback on 100% of calls? Is your tech able to spit out a report directly after a call, so feedback can be given in real-time? Does it create value by arming clients with the best information so they can make informed, strategic business decisions?
Future Tech Will Make Customer Service Even More Customer-Centric
As we look to the future, these technologies will become more widespread, not even in the next few years, but the next few months. Tech platforms are constantly developing upgrades and enhancements that will make the word “pivot” an understatement. Companies will be able to pull off “strategic 360’s” as operations teams become even more robust and nimble.
Agents will be able to access all kinds of information that give them greater insights into customer preferences. And traditional call center metrics, such as handle times, may take a backseat to consumer needs as brands embrace a more customer-centric approach.
In fact, modern technologies that some people feared would dehumanize customer service, have actually given way to stronger connections, deeper relationships, and ways of interacting with a brand that were never thought possible until now.
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