Skip navigation
All Places > Industry News and Best Practices > Blog > 2016 > January

When a credit union’s marketing department asked operations whether callers were mentioning their recently-launched loyalty program, they were disappointed to learn that, according to the contact center’s speech tool, very few callers referred to the Gold, Silver, and Bronze packages. However, after conducting a content audit—a manual review of a select number of random recordings from the appropriate business queue—operations learned that callers were referencing the program. It’s just that customers were largely ignoring the official package names and instead were asking about “perk points.” It’s a good example of the gap that can exist between expected and actual customer language, which can only be revealed when operations and marketing departments cooperate.



Discovery and Rediscovery

At MainTrax, the first thing we do with a new client is schedule a discovery session—ideally with a variety of key stakeholders from multiple departments—to clearly define intentions, expectations, and business goals. But we also recommend that clients conduct occasional rediscovery sessions to ensure that current processes are aligned with initial goals and to identify additional ways to leverage the power of their speech tool.


Here are some of the questions we ask in initial discovery sessions that can be just as helpful when revisited after implementation of a speech initiative:


• What specifically do you want to learn by using speech analytics?

• How are you currently gathering this intelligence?

• Are you interested in monitoring what the agent says, what the customer says, or both of these channels?

• Why is understanding this information important to you?

• How do you plan to use this information?

• Who else is this information important to, and why?

• Which departments are likely to be involved?


For initial discovery sessions, we supplement these questions by sharing quick wins, case studies, and “Aha!” moments from other clients that illustrate the numerous ways that analytics can positively impact marketing campaigns and strategies.


Ultimately, the extent of marketing’s involvement might come down to who’s writing the check. One client suggested that the higher the decision maker is on the organizational ladder, the more likely it is that marketing will get some attention. “The way I see it, there’s far more ROI for the marketing team than for anybody else because the savings from forgoing unnecessary focus groups and the ability to repair and redirect flawed advertising campaigns will pay for a speech initiative many times over,” he says. “I don’t care what speech vendor you use; the price of your speech solution suddenly becomes chump change.”


Hearing Is Believing

Analysts like Paul Tessier recognize that when marketing shares in the bounty of speech analytics data, everybody wins. Tessier, a speech analytics manager at one of Canada's leading financial institutions, doesn’t just feed data to his marketing colleagues, he welcomes them into the process from the get-go. He begins with his own discovery process to identify what marketing wants to learn, then programs the search engine accordingly to isolate calls pertaining to those specific issues. He then invites marketing folks to listen to selected calls, either by providing access to the actual audio files via a secured shared drive or by inviting them to a conference room where the calls can be accessed directly from the speech application.


The reaction? Priceless. “It wasn’t uncommon to hear, ‘Oh, I can’t believe I’m hearing that!’” Tessier says. “Often there were ‘Aha!’ moments where they’d scurry off to tell their managers what they heard. Marketing people have the best perspective of whether a product is being positioned or explained correctly, so inviting them to listen in on the right calls is the best way to make sure that key decisions are being made correctly.”


Active Meeting image.jpg

Inspired by marketing’s enthusiastic response, and having successfully implemented a similar program in another organization, Tessier is looking to expand and formalize the process at the bank. While working for a large telecom company, he conducted monthly calibration meetings that focused on a monthly discussion topic supplied by the executive team. Each four-hour meeting was attended by a cross-functional team—comprised of representatives from customer care, customer experience, sales and marketing—that listened to high-value calls on the specified topic. “Every meeting generated light-bulb moments and actionable takeaways,” Tessier says. “For instance, a marketing rep would recognize why customers were getting confused by the way agents were explaining a particular product feature.”


By gathering various departments together, challenges can be identified, discussed, and acted upon quickly and effectively. “Someone might say, ‘That’s a customer care issue, I’ll take care of it,’ while someone else says, ‘I’ll own that one, it’s a marketing issue.’” Tessier says. “Coming together as a group lends itself to people stepping up and holding themselves and each other accountable.”


What prompted Tessier’s advocacy for sharing agent-customer conversations with other departments? Well, let’s just say he learned his lesson the hard way. “After getting a request from marketing to analyze a particular issue, I spent weeks building out a cost analysis, tracking call volumes, and identifying trends in utterances and categories, then submitted the report with three calls,” he says. “I later found out it was the three calls that moved the project forward! I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I put three weeks into those analytics and they barely looked at the report. Next time, I’ll just submit the three calls!’”


Good call, Paul. Time after time, I’ve seen clients shift their focus to make marketing a higher priority after conducting a content audit and hearing what’s “really on the calls.” A content audit enables you to better understand the real “voice of the customer” and identify the most impactful issues.




About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken


Often, companies don’t sufficiently invest in customer service evaluations because they believe hiring smart, friendly staff will produce adequate customer service. And yet, many of these same companies claim that customer service is one of their core strengths.


But why settle for adequate? Interaction-Metrics-Martha-Brooke-ROI-Quote.pngIf you want to make strides and get a strong ROI on your customer service, you must exceed customers’ expectations. In fact, an oft-quoted 2005 Gallup Research study reported that emotionally satisfied customers spent 67% more per year than customers who were dissatisfied or satisfied (ask us for the research). Yes, that’s right: dissatisfied and satisfied customers spend virtually the same amount. That’s why it’s worth it to go above and beyond in your customer service.


The secret to leveraging your customer service is having a solid customer service evaluation program that continually shows you how and where to improve your execution.


Customer Service Evaluation | Advantages:


1. Get more with what you have in place. Businesses tend to spend a lot on customer service payroll, but little on evaluating the return on that expense. Objective customer service evaluations provide a reliable way to work toward effective, efficient customer service.


2. Increase current sales and long-term loyalty. Great service brings customers back, plain and simple. When customers return—and recommend you to their social networks—you gain sales revenue. So, customer service that strengthens ROI must go beyond simple satisfaction: it needs to emotionally engage your customers. But you’ll only get there if you have an objective customer service evaluation program measuring how often and the degree to which your associates create “wow.”


3. Reduce risk. Terrible Yelp and Google reviews are a looming threat for all companies, especially in today’s review-driven market. That’s why you need customer service evaluations in place to ensure that bad reviews don’t drag you down.


Remember, great customer service is an opportunity to create authentic interactions that:

• Ensure long-term loyalty

• Polish your online reputation

• Attract new customers


But the kind of customer service that does more never happens by coincidence or just by having smart, friendly staff. If you’re serious about customer service that delivers ROI, you need to invest in a rigorous Customer Service Evaluation Program that shows how you score, where to improve, and what that improvement looks like.


Onward and upward toward customer service that’s positive for your customers and profitable for you!


Be Mindful of Marketing

Posted by scottbakken Jan 25, 2016


In the days before speech analytics, marketing intelligence could be hard to come by. According to Jim Linkhauer, now a speech analytics consultant for Adtech Global, a provider of contact center services, the most effective data extraction tool was a box of Krispy Kremes. “When I was an operations manager,” recalls Linkhauer, “I would have to walk down the middle of the call center with a box of doughnuts to get agents to tell me anything about what customers were saying about the product we were selling.”


After his company implemented a speech tool, Linkhauer combed through analytics results during a national product launch and gleaned insights about everything from the effectiveness of the ad campaign to competitive offers to customer complaints. Linkhauer began sending the marketing team nuggets of information on a daily basis to aid and support their strategic decisions. “Listening to what the voice of the customer was telling us about the product we were launching was invaluable,” Linkhauer says. “Data like ‘5 percent of callers are signing up long-term’ and ‘how often callers bring up names of specific competitors when the new product is mentioned would end up on the CEO’s desk and he’d say, ‘This is awesome! What else can you tell me?’”


When product teams studied the data, they’d ask specific follow-up questions, prompting Linkhauer to build more search categories and locate relevant customer-agent conversations. Not only were results quick and accurate, not a single doughnut was required. “I once heard someone say that speech analytics is like having an instant focus group with 24/7 trending analysis,” Linkhauer says. “It helps take the guesswork out of marketing.”


Patrick Botz agrees. “Speech analytics is a fantastic tool for quickly identifying competitors’ new campaigns and threats,” adds Botz, a vice president for VPI, a provider of speech analytics and workforce optimization software. “By tagging CRM data such as campaign name, product name, and order value to recorded calls, marketers can focus their speech analytics searches on higher-value calls for even greater insights.”


Marketing image 3.jpg

Without a doubt, speech analytics produces a treasure trove of business intelligence that can help marketing make critical course corrections that can revitalize a sagging campaign. Too often, however, this statistical gold dust doesn’t make it across the Great Divide between operations and marketing.


As Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “What we got here is a failure to communicate” (although I’m fairly certain he wasn’t referring to speech analytics). Unfortunately, operations and marketing tend to be siloed in many businesses, and neither department pays much attention to the other.


Once contact centers actually implement a speech analytics solution, improving marketing and communications gets shunted aside like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.


Our experience with clients confirms that speech analytics is largely considered an operations application. Feedback from contact centers that had implemented analytics as well as centers that were planning to, all prioritized operational goals like “improve customer experience and satisfaction,” “improve agent performance,” “improve processes,” and “improve training.” Meanwhile, marketing’s most urgent questions—from “What’s going on with the new product launch?” to “Have we positioned the product correctly?” to “What are consumers saying about the product?”—go unanswered.


That’s a shame, because marketing and operations ignoring each other is like two brothers fruitlessly jumping up under a tree branch to reach an apple just beyond their grasp. Ah, but if one gives a boost to the other, they can win the prize and share in the bounty. Case in point: If marketing adds more user-friendly self-serve options to the company’s website, operations could see a big drop-off in customer calls. The result? Reduced expenses and happier customers. Everybody wins.




About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken


Your company’s brand: it represents the qualities and values of your products and services.


So shouldn't your customer service showcase your brand? Branded customer service gives your brand substance and depth. While your competitors are busy showing their brand simply through advertising, you’ll be cementing your brand through the lived customer experience. This is critical in a time when authentic communication is a priority.



But branded customer service isn’t easy. Sometimes customer service reps do everything “right,” but don’t demonstrate the key aspects of

your brand. You work hard to define your brand, but if you ignore the potential of customer service to reinforce it, you miss a crucial opportunity to show customers that your brand is more than a logo—it’s a set of real practices and values that set your company apart.


That’s why what you say needs to reflect what you do: in other words, you need to “talk your walk,” to twist a familiar phrase. For example, if your brand is about caring, your customer service should consistently demonstrate caring. Likewise, if your brand is about technical products, your associates should provide clear, detailed information.


While performing a Customer Experience Evaluation for a LASIK practice, Interaction Metrics analysts discovered our client was missing a huge opportunity to communicate the unique attributes of their brand—in this case, safety and expertise.


Here’s what happened before the evaluation:


Customer: “How does the procedure work?”

Associate: “We cut your eye and zap your cornea with a laser.”

Customer: “Yow! That sounds scary.”


The associate used volatile, casual language, with no regard to supporting the company’s brand pillars of safety and expertise—top priorities for any surgery. So, we showed our client how to improve their customer service by anticipating the customer’s concerns and providing reassuring information: “Before I get into the details of our laser, let me tell you that the procedure is FDA approved and has been around for many years. Over time it’s gotten safer than ever…Our practice also has a 99% success rate…”


While optimizing one moment might seem easy, the fact is, customer service consists of thousands of interactions. We’re often asked how to reduce the many to a manageable number. The solution is to create model answers for each unique type of interaction. The LASIK example above is a great model answer because it did more than the bare minimum—it created value for the company and value for the customer. But clearly, companies require a complete knowledge base of model answers if their goal is to brand customer service.


To create branded customer service at all touchpoints, you need a Customer Experience Plan based on rigorous analysis of your brand goals, customers, and touchpoints. Your plan should incorporate precise metrics like Interaction Brand Score to measure and track how well you “talk your walk.”


So don’t let your customer service just be a cost, and don’t let your brand stop at your logo. Instead, use branded customer service and actionable customer experience metrics to bring your brand to life through each and every customer interaction.

During Q3 2015, the U.S. contact center industry saw a total of 22,265 new positions added, minus 5,678 jobs that were cut due to force reductions and closures, reports a recent Smart Customer Service article.agent-evaluation.png


The data, compiled by Dallas-based Site Selection Group and analyzed by nonprofit organization Jobs4America, shows a net total of 16,587 new jobs created between July 1 and September 30 2015.


As noted in the article, the data points to a healthy U.S. contact center industry, despite the organizational and staff restructuring reflected in the numbers.  Matt Zemon, chairman of Jobs4America and CEO of American Support, a contact center outsourcing firm based in Holy Hill, FL., says in the article that the results look promising for the industry moving forward.


“[Top U.S. contact center sites] continue to expand their domestic operations creating important new job opportunities for citizens of our country,” he says.  Zemon also notes that the top U.S. sites for expansions and job openings include business process outsourcers (BPOs), which typically provide contracted work, and enterprise groups, which typically offer on-site employment opportunities.


As organizations look to improve contact center performance in 2016, speech analytics can help to increase operational effectiveness and enhance the customer experience overall.  By automating quality monitoring and call scoring, such technology helps to evaluate agent performance and leverage the voice of the customer as a business asset.

It’s a familiar scenario: you call a company’s customer service, get your problem solved…and then discover it wasn’t solved at all. It’s a frustrating experience—but a preventable one. Companies that solve all problems in one call offer the best customer experience and maximize their efficiency.Customer-Experience-Metric.png


Take, for example, a guest who called a resort after booking a vacation. “What’s this extra two hundred dollar fee? No one mentioned that when I called the first time!”


Now this company has both a second phone call to handle and an increased risk of losing their customer.


That’s why a “one call does it all” standard should be a top priority for your company. Anticipating customer needs reduces customer service costs. Besides, when associates are proactive, your customer service will be efficient and well-received.


Great customer service always does more than simply answer the question at hand. This is one of the central tenets of Interaction Thinking™. Great customer service always finds ways to add value—which, in the case of the resort, means proactively explaining what the fees cover, such as WiFi and pool access. In fact, not explaining all of those amenities is a lost branding opportunity.


So how do you fine-tune your customer experiences to get to “one call does it all?” First, you need to know your Proactive Solutions Score (PSS). PSS shows the thoroughness of each interaction, and accounts for issues the customer didn’t know to ask about until later.


Applying precise customer service metrics like PSS is key to offering great customer service. As we always saw, if you don't measure it, you don't know it. So, start measuring now!

In the call center environment, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing agent performance.  Best practices will vary from agent to agent and organization to organization, but one thing is for certain: Proactively and consistently managing agent performance is critical to delivering superior customer service and a positive customer experience overall.agent-coaching.png


Donna Fluss notes that improving the performance of agents revolves around the following five steps that can assist with meeting call center performance goals:


  • Diagnose underlying performance issues
  • Create an action plan
  • Communicate with the agent(s)
  • Provide consistent feedback and reinforcement
  • Monitor and track improvements


Let’s explore a few additional ways to manage call center agents and empower them to become top performers:


Monitor 100% of Calls


The problem with traditional quality monitoring is that random sampling is not enough to ensure best practices.  Recorded calls can take days or even weeks to index, and uncovering the most valuable agent performance insights feels much like finding a needle in a haystack!


Speech analytics, on the other hand, automatically monitors and scores 100% of calls, helping managers to deliver objective feedback and improve agent performance.  The fact that scores are based on the automatic analysis of every call (not the subjective judgment of a small sample) can help supervisors to discover how to bring out the best in every agent and drive lasting motivation and engagement throughout the call center.


Utilize Call Scoring Evaluation Forms


Agent scorecards in the call center can seem tedious and redundant; after all, the last thing managers would want is for agents to sound like a robot instead of a real person.  But the fact of the matter is that scorecards are an invaluable tool for enhancing quality assurance within the call center.


As noted in a Talkdesk blog post, however, the practice of call scoring is only as effective as the items included on the scorecard.  “A poorly designed call scoring evaluation form will result in data that does not accurately assess agent performance, misses key performance areas, and lacks reliability and validity,” says the article.  “Thus, when aiming to enhance quality assurance practices, call monitoring, call scoring, and feedback to agents, managers must start by optimizing their call scoring evaluation form.”


Personalize Agent Training & Coaching


With contact center attrition as high as it is, it’s essential for managers and supervisors to ensure agents are engaged in their work and motivated to succeed.  To elicit the highest engagement from staff, managers should, for example, listen to employee feedback and opinions, praise staff and recognize good performance, make each employee feel invested in company goals and direction, etc.


This starts with immediate, actionable insight into employee performance.


After all, agents can’t (and shouldn’t) be expected to excel in their work without proper feedback on what they are doing well and what areas might still need to be improved upon.  It all comes down to giving employees the respect – and motivation – they deserve.


With speech analytics technology in place, managers are alerted to customer service issues as they occur, creating an awareness of inefficiencies across the organization and providing the opportunity for real-time training and personalized coaching.


The end result?  Agents who are more engaged and likely to sustain improvement over the long term.


Final Thoughts


In today’s increasingly customer-driven marketplace, it’s critical to provide unparalleled customer service at every stage of the customer lifecycle.  The above tips – monitoring agent-to-customer interactions, utilizing agent scorecards, and providing personalized agent training – are just a few of the ways to drive agent performance improvements across all levels of the organization.


How is your organization effectively managing agents?