There are more ways than ever for customers to interact with a company—from chatbots to text, email and even social media. But despite the rise of new digital communication channels, voice still reigns as king when it comes to sales and customer support.
The problem with voice is that, historically when a call ends, the gold mine of data held within that interaction is lost forever. This is especially true with the new normal of work-from-home and remote work. Calls and conversations that once took place in a single location are now happening in new locations, and across multiple networks, collaboration platforms and devices. It’s no longer unusual to call into a toll-free line and be connected to an agent working from their kitchen table.
In today’s data-driven world, having the ability to record every call—no matter where it takes place—and unlock value from this data is non-negotiable. Now with the combination of cloud call recording and voice artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, businesses can easily convert conversations into strategic business insights, gauge customer satisfaction levels, and better engage and reach customers.
Looking Beyond Expensive, Disjointed Technology
Call recording is not a new concept, but until recently, it hasn’t been able to live up to its full potential. The traditional approach to call recording focuses on recording fixed lines, all with antiquated equipment that lives on-premise. Once recorded, those calls also tended to be tied to a specific application inside a call center, and the data of no use to the business outside that one application. It simply hasn’t been financially feasible to record every call or physically possible to capture a call that didn’t take place at a desk in a call center. And if you needed to find information within that pile of recordings, it could feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Just how expensive are we talking? Traditional call recording can run a company anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 per agent. This includes the specialized software and hardware, telecommunication services, servers for call recording storage and the like. Now imagine what that would cost if every call center employee had access to that technology.
Let’s do some quick math. According to a study by Site Selection Group, there are over 7,400 call centers in the United States with more than 50 employees; and nationwide, more than 3 million people are employed in call centers. If even a quarter of those employees have call recording technologies supporting them—at $2,500 to $10,000 per agent—the cost could easily run into the billions. You can see why call recording historically has been only deployed where the law required it.
To make matters worse, legacy communication technology has created information silos—great for vendor lock-in; terrible for the customer and the concept of open data. When data gets trapped in one system or department, a company cannot get a 360-degree view of its customers. Plus, data that is manually funneled up to a decision-maker often is outdated—severely limiting the usefulness of the data collected. This can have a measurable impact on a company’s bottom line.
Based on a Salesforce survey of 2,900 sales professionals, while 81% of sales reps believe it is important to have a connected view of data across the entire customer journey, a lack of integrated systems linking data sources is holding many businesses back. Only 49% of businesses say they have fully integrated systems.
Voice data is an important part of the customer journey. It must be captured no matter where a customer interaction takes place—whether on a phone line or UCaaS platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex—or who is having the conversation. Customer service, help desk and sales calls all need to be aggregated and stored in the cloud for indefinite, cost-effective storage.
Bringing Call Recording to the Masses
The combination of high cost and on-premise technology has created two major problems:
- Call recording has not been widely embraced. Rather, it has been a rationed resource saved for cases when required by law.
- Call recording has been incredibly difficult to utilize given the shift to remote working.
The good news? The cost structure of legacy call recording technology is being destroyed by the cloud and open APIs. The move from pipes to platforms is on. Software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based virtualized offerings mean cost is no longer a barrier. Call recording can cost as little as $10-$15 a month per agent.
With call recording no longer a scarce resource, companies can fully maximize the value that lives within voice. The value held within these conversations is so great that Gartner predicts 75% of conversations at work will be recorded and analyzed by 2025.
Best Practices for Accessing Previously Untapped Voice Data
The case for recording all customer calls is clear, but there are a few best practices to consider to reap the most from this technology. These include:
- Ensure accurate transcription. Historically, voice data has been difficult to not only capture but to convert into a usable format. To extract value from voice data, calls must be transcribed with extremely high accuracy to ensure decisions are being made with the right information. Once calls are transcribed, they can be searched, rated and custom alerts may be triggered.
To extract value from voice data, calls must be transcribed with extremely high accuracy to ensure decisions are being made with the right information.
- Automatically attach content directly to each customer record. By having all customer data in one place, agents don’t have to start from scratch every time a customer calls. This means customers don’t have to repeat themselves—a time-consuming and frustrating exercise for all involved.
- Take action based on the data collected. Insights gathered from customer conversations can identify opportunities to improve processes and productivity across an entire organization. It can also provide more granular insight, for example, shedding light on an individual agent’s performance or uncovering opportunities for targeted customer offers. For example, every time the word “credit card” is mentioned in a conversation, a company can send a credit card offer in the mail. Or, keywords can be tracked to monitor which products are being talked about the most and should be ordered to stay ahead of customer demand.
- Gain real-time insights into customer behavior/experience to boost revenue. Instead of providing a report at the end of a quarter, insights into customer experience and preferences can be made available in real-time via a dashboard. The key here is to embrace the shift away from rigid, application-specific data to a dynamic dashboard that provides a holistic view of customer interactions. And with the help of AI-enabled sentiment analysis and keyword detection, appropriate actions can be taken quickly, rather than uncovering a customer issue or trend after the fact.
- Don’t forget about the employee. While it is important to understand your customers, the same rings true for frontline employees, who are the heart and soul of your business. Employees are more likely to stay engaged if you make their working life as easy as possible. That means giving them the tools they need to do their job and improving the quality of interactions with callers. Voice AI also allows you to meet employees’ wants and needs that are not directly expressed.
Embracing the Value of Voice Data
As we look to the second half of 2021 and beyond, it is certain that turning the billions of business conversations taking place every day into critical data for compliance, business continuity and productivity will continue to be a key business imperative for call centers and enterprises alike. By embracing the right cloud-based technology and following a few key best practices, organizations of all sizes can transform how voice data is collected, analyzed and used to meet the needs of their customers.