Making the invisible visible

Much of what we do well and much of what we do not do well is invisible to our sales and service leadership.

This is part four of a five-part blog post looking at how Speech Analytics is helping sales and service leaders optimize their teams, CX, revenue and the service they deliver.

  • Part one covered “do you think you are digital?” This highlights the gaps in more than 50 per cent of customer interactions.
  • Part two covered the issues relating to whether humans have the technologies to support them in an increasingly challenging customer interaction function.
  • Part three covered the “real needs” within omnichannel and real-time data strategies.
  • Part five concludes on the future vision for speech analytics and conversational computing.

Of course, we probably do know who our rock stars are. We probably also know who our weak links are. But do we truly know why and how? There are also the staff in the middle ground who are not bad, but also not great. With a little bit of guidance, they may make the transition to high-performing individuals. This is transformational for a company.

There are also other factors that impact performance that may not be down to the skills or attitude of the individuals on the sales or service desk. It may just be that the question is complex, the solution is complex, or things are happening around us that the poor guys just cannot keep on top of. This could be product changes, price changes, promotions or other external factors, whether they be market moves or competitive pressures.

The guys on your front line of sales and service have a tough job. It is fast, dynamic, changing and real-time. So, in short, those who do the job need help and those who manage need insight to curtail the gamers of the system, remove the weak, but also to scale best practice.

Let’s tackle invisibility first. Whether you manage a sales team or a services team, the tangible data you have available to you is typically very limited. Most organizations leverage CRM/SFA/ERP/ITSM or field service applications. You may also get call transaction data, such as when the call was, the DNIS/CLI/duration/agent login and so on. You may also do some surveys or samples of customer interactions, but this is typically a small percentage of all the interactions, and of course it is all very fragmented. Much of the data comes from the individual you manage and the data you capture is very limited, i.e. drop-down fields, and there is often way too much for the poor sales or service guy/gal to complete during the call. I am yet to find an organization that is 100 per cent on top of its CRM data entry. We are just human and there is only so much time in the day.

Solving the sales and service front-line challenges starts with automating and capturing the context of the call at a much deeper level, automatically. This means not only getting the electronic transcript (i.e. basic speech-to-text), but also getting the true meaning and understanding of the call using AI and NLP techniques. In this way, we truly connect the dots on why high performers perform. We see their questioning techniques, identify them and link this to actions and insights. This can be shared with the wider team to help them to learn and to emulate.

The sales gamers can also be highlighted. Many of us have heard the “bullish forecaster”: “Yeah these three deals are all at 90 per cent for the quarter and I’m committing to the forecast.” Fantastic. However, connecting the forecasted opportunity to context of the calls shows there is no mention of pricing and no mention of contract or GDPR, security, or timing. Therefore, the sales forecast can be checked against whether late-stage sales language is being used in the prospect interactions.

It’s not all bad process or bad staff. Assistance during call is increasingly valuable. Sales and service professionals have to manage a lot and during a customer call this is intensified. Speech technologies are increasingly being integrated with external data feeds and internal knowledge bases so that some of the pressure can be taken away from the agent, sales or service professional. We are now working with some of the largest organizations in the world where speech analytics and conversational computing technology is helping to augment the capabilities of the human. We digitally listen to live calls, analyse them for understanding in semi real-time and integrate with internal systems or external data sources to present advisory actions to the agent. This is dramatically improving first call resolution, sales opportunity and CX.

Channels, channels, channels. Many multi-channel or omnichannel strategies are designed to solve one problem, but regularly create many others. The main issue is, does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? This is immensely frustrating not only for the customer but also for the call handler, whether that be sales or service. Being pre-briefed before taking a call is massively impactful. In many cases the agent does not need all the details of all orders or all calls this week, or all emails and all chats, on their screen three seconds before the call. That is almost impossible to digest and be useful. But what is useful is a summary?

30-day interaction summary

  • 10 calls
  • 4 emails
  • 3 chats
  • Sentiment – LOW
  • Topics detected – XYZ
  • Products detected – XYZ
  • Complaints language detected
  • Negative words detected XYZ

So, in these scenarios the agent should have a pretty good understanding of the call context before taking the call. In fact, the data collected may also be used to impact routing or channels made available to the customer.

One thing is for sure, our staff are still a very powerful and capable resource. This is particularly true when the moment matters. Now we are augmenting their capabilities with truly incredible technologies, but also giving our leaders the X-ray glasses so they can see what is going on for real.