Caller Experience – To Improve, Use Emotion or Data?

Emotion Chip

A topic frequently discussed in Customer Experience (CX) circles is whether emotion is given enough significance in assessing current state and designing future state experiences.

Dependent on the situation, it seems that either emotion or data is given a preponderance of importance.  There are a myriad of reasons for out of balance CX assessments and designs.  Drivers for out of balance approaches include, but are not limited to: CX professionals’ personalities, clients’ personalities,  clients’ industries, channels addressed, and other factors.

The reality is that to properly address customer experience in contact centers, a balanced approach will produce the best outcome. VoxPeritus uses a two phased approach that first analyzes current state by “walking in a customer’s shoes.” This includes understanding who is calling and why. Of course, having good data about call types and caller information helps speed this portion of the assessment. Lacking clear data, a sampling of calls either recorded or monitored live in side by side monitoring sessions with CSRs can provide a a reasonably accurate perspective into the “who and why” of the majority of callers.

Understanding callers’ mental states helps us place ourselves in a better position to understand why certain activities could anger some customers while others ignore the offending issue.  For example, a frequent complaint we hear from callers who feel that they have been ignored by a company, is that not knowing how long to expect that they will be on hold in a call queue is something that especially angers them. For those who do not feel as though they were being ignored, long call queues without an estimated wait time are reported as a negative experience, but nowhere to the degree of those who feel ignored prior to their call.

Conversely, caller experiences can also affect callers’ states of mind. Poorly tuned and infrequently monitored IVR routing applications can offset a friendly, very helpful agent to the point of leaving the customer with a poor opinion of the company.

Today I had to make four calls to finally reach an agent with Chase Mortgage. Their IVR did not recognize touch tone input on my second call (the first direct extension call went to voicemail), the third call was transferred via their telco and was immediately dropped at the destination call center.  On the fourth try, I made it through to an agent who was quite professional and very helpful. However, the amount of customer effort that Chase requires to get to an agent is a sign of disrespect for their customers.  And this was two weeks after I informed them of the same problems and asked that it be escalated to their direct management for escalations to their IT group.

Attempting to address caller experience on emotional state alone would be short-sighted. It is impossible to accurately judge the emotional state of every caller, the best that can be done is to group callers into a few potential emotional states and attempt to eliminate the negatives and enhance the positives wherever possible.  Using data to analyze callers’ behavior provides another large piece of the puzzle.

Until very recently, the problem was that capturing data on end to end calls, including IVR activity was nearly impossible, and if available, it was very expensive and the solutions were problematic because they used IVR logs and frequently broke. So we resorted to telco, ACD and IVR reports in an attempt to stitch together an accurate picture.

The good news is that with the advent of advanced speech analytics and other voice channel technologies, gathering valuable data for end to end caller experience is becoming much easier, faster and more cost effective.  Data, coupled with audio recordings allow VoxPeritus to accurately track caller activities, while also providing a glimpse into callers’ emotional states or at minimum,  their verbal reactions to prompting and menus.

VoxPeritus uses advanced solutions from our partner Cyara that provides analysis through the entire voice channel, including IVR interactions. During the second phase, we initially set aside our subjective findings including caller emotion. We then focus on what the Cyara data tells us.

Cyara’s solutions allows us to choose a prompt and then analyze caller activity across hundreds of utterances in a single morning.  Furthermore, we can easily listen to the utterances, thereby weaving the emotional connection into the analytical approach.  It is at this point where we sometimes make discoveries that would be highly unlikely to be found through random sampling hundreds of calls across many days.  Combining data to drive our focus to transactions where callers do not interact with the IVR as expected, coupled with the ability to quickly and easily listen to utterances provides insights that improve caller experience while driving high ROIs.