Future of Tech

Why tone AI is the most powerful tool in customer experience

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Posted
September 15, 2022
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4 minutes

The growing importance of CX in business strategy

Over the last few years, the world has evolved at a rapid pace. Increased inflation, pandemic uncertainty, a rapidly changing nature of where and when we work, and global instability have impacted our day-to-day lives. These external levers have also significantly changed what customers need from businesses and brands and where they choose to spend their money. With these shifting sentiments, businesses have reacted with evolving customer experience (CX) focuses.

At Fortune 500 companies, customer service is now the fourth most popular core value. And, McKinsey’s 2022 State of Customer Care Survey recently found that customer care is now a strategic focus for most companies. As organizations across industries look to capture a greater share of wallet and increase customer lifetime value, CX has shifted from a cost center to a core differentiator and potential profit center.

How voice drives CX in the digital era

At its core, great CX is about solving problems fast, effectively, and leaving a positive association with a customer. With major innovations over the past decade, technology is rapidly changing the contact center. Cloud and AI solutions have led to new ways of solving problems quickly and with minimized resource. In today’s omnichannel world of customer experience, chatbots and IVR flows are a prime example of how customers interact with digital tools to resolve issues. However, customers are humans, and humans want a human connection. The primary vehicle of this human connection in the customer experience is voice, as it’s able to drive both empathy and efficiency in real time. Moreover, a recent Qualtrics report showed that 60% of consumers prefer a phone call for difficult queries, often bypassing self-service channels to reach a real person.

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It’s clear that since voice is the preferred channel of consumers, they’re going to do all they can to speak with a real person. The question for contact centers then becomes: how do you get the most out of voice to drive great CX? At its best, an advisor’s voice signals competence, empathy and engagement. But to achieve this, advisors must use both their words and tone to positively shape the customer’s impression of the interaction, and ultimately of the company, product, or service.

While incumbent KPI’s in the contact center see continued use, we are also seeing a new focus on what is being said in order to analyze call quality. But despite speech-to-text software having become highly effective at translating what is being said in a call, it is still unable to capture how it’s being said, which in many cases is far more indicative of the true nature of the call. In fact, scientific research clearly points to tone in voice as being the most powerful predictor of emotion. To measure whether you’re truly delivering great CX, it’s crucial to understand customer sentiment and how advisors come across to customers. It’s essential to uncover the emotional elements of the call.

Leveraging emotion AI to boost the customer-agent interaction

An entirely new class of AI tools are emerging, which analyze tone to decode the rich emotional signals hidden in the human voice. In the CX context, tone AI brings advisors and their customers closer together by measuring customer sentiment and the tone of the advisor. It also enables real-time feedback to advisors on both customer sentiment and their own tone. Is the customer happy? Are they coming across with a friendly, energetic voice? Or do they sound bland and disinterested? Are they speaking too slowly? Or maybe too monotonously? Getting this feedback in real-time enables for quick praise when all is well or for easy course correction when things get tense. It also acts as a way for agents to better predict their customer’s needs and adapt their conversation to find a resolution more quickly and with a better customer experience.

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Tone AI will be the great differentiator

In contact centers, voice will continue to remain in demand. In that same McKinsey survey, 61% of surveyed leaders reported a growth in total calls, with increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base as the key drivers. More so, 58% of leaders are anticipating call volumes to increase over the next 18 months. It’s no surprise then that 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in greater AI capabilities in the next two years. Given the major increase in calls and a growing customer desire for high-quality human connection, these investments should be channeled to emotion AI to make the most out of the precious customer-advisor interactions. Deployed correctly, tone AI will engage advisors to deliver the best CX, facilitate shorter calls, and boost overall ROI.

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