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Why call center IVR surveys of customers is on the rise

Market pundits have predicted the decline of call centers as a critical component of consumer care.  In reality, call centers continue to be the single most important component of consumer care in the digital age. Research shows 69 percent of consumers are more satisfied using the phone to acquire support across most industries, something you could test with your own call center IVR surveys.  Further, at a cost of $1.00 per minute, Call Centers represent the single most expensive customer care system cost by a large margin.

Because of the volume of consumer contacts and their relative impact on consumer satisfaction, call centers have always been considered a critical touch point in the customer journey for all customer experience CX research.  Further, multi-modal surveys have been used for post call center surveying, but IVR surveys have been the dominant and preferred survey method. New trends in customer research will further expand the use of call center IVR surveys for post call customer care.

Call center operations are beginning to integrate speech to text technology as a scalable method to review and analyze the performance of agents, and coaching agents to enhance success metrics. Speech to text captures the customer exchange and transcribes it to make it easier to analyze and dissect call outcomes to assess agent performance. This technology will enable call center management to better understand the causes of successful and failed customer care calls.

What the technology of transcribing actual consumer call recordings will not provide is a clear understanding of the impact customer care and service call successes and failures have on the customer’s relationship to the brand. This can only be achieved by an effective and broad-based post contact survey methodology.

IVR surveys continue to offer the preferred survey methodology because it offers nearly instantaneous post call or service contact, extremely high participation rates, a mobile friendly platform, and the ability to gather quantitative and qualitative feedback, including insight into brand affinity. The qualitative data acquired by IVR surveys has dramatically improved and is more cost effective with the integration of similar speech to text technology. Now you can transcribe survey open ends and integrate such data for text analysis and ideation research in near real-time a fraction of the cost of manual transcription.

As call center innovation grows so does the ability for customer experience research to measure the attitude of consumers and score their experience to measure the impact on consumer brand affinity.

 We can help you get more from speech to text IVR surveys – learn more.

Call Center Silos Are Eroding Omnichannel Success

Even though they talk to customers via telephone, email and chat, the most siloed operation in your customer service operation is your call center. Historically, call centers have been segregated from other parts of the organization concerned with voice-of-the-customer (VoC) issues, which is odd since no other group works directly with more customers every day. Collecting and, more importantly, sharing customer experience (CX) data should be one of the primary responsibilities of the call center.

Why are call centers siloed from the rest of the organization? There are a few obvious reasons:

  1. Telephony partners often have a stake in controlling the feedback related to their platforms.
  2. More call centers are being outsourced, which makes it harder to integrate call center reports and findings.
  3. Call center business processes including workflow and software, differ from other VoC groups making it more difficult to integrate call center data.

Despite these obstacles, call centers are front and center when it comes to assessing CX and customer satisfaction. The data they gather as part of the omnichannel experience can help make or break your brand.

CX Success Relies on Collaboration

According to Gartner more than two-thirds of marketers say their companies compete on CX and more than 81 percent expect to compete mostly on CX by the end of the decade. However, to succeed, CX has to be built around collaborative processes that engender positive customer outcomes. As Gartner Analyst Augie Ray states:

…in a world increasingly built around collaboration, CX outcomes tend to diminish when marketing or any other single department attempts to lead and execute CX alone. CX leaders need to partner and collaborate with other departments to make improvements throughout the entire client life cycle.

No one group listens to the customer more closely than the call center. Call centers tend to be the single, most impactful operation affecting net promoter scores (NPS), which means they have a huge impact on CX.

Aberdeen Group reports that best-in-class VoC users get 10 times the annual revenue of their competitors. Mastering VoC programs also contributes to the success in other ways:

  • 55 percent of VoC leaders have higher customer retention rates.
  • 23 percent see a reduction in customer service costs year over year.
  • 292 percent experience greater employee engagement rates.

Call centers are at the forefront of VoC data gathering, generating more qualitative and quantitative transactional data than any other CX group. Ignoring call center findings and failing to incorporate them in CX analytics is a costly mistake.

Tapping Call Center Data for CX Analytics

Thanks to big data analytics, customer interactions gathered by the call center can be captured and incorporated into CX research. Issues such as siloed data repositories and incompatible workflows can be overcome using the latest data mining techniques, and big data analytics can accept source information in virtually any form. Cloud data repositories and other data sharing strategies also provide ready access to call center research as part of collaborative CX analytics

Once you understand the vital role that call centers can play in VoC data gathering you can break down the barriers and integrate call center CX data into your analytics workflow. It also allows you to make the most of the unique role the call center plays in assessing CX.

Establishing the right protocols for customer experience data gathering has to be part of multichannel CX analytics. You need to establish customer surveys that provide an accurate snapshot of customer attitudes. You also need to be able to process open end questions as well as multiple choice and ranked responses.

More importantly, you need to be able to process real-time data as well as historical data. To increase customer retention rates and reduce customer service costs requires immediate response to customer issues. Having a real-time data analytics engine providing immediate reports based on customer-agent conversations is the kind of big data application that can give your customer service operation a true competitive edge.

It’s time to bring your call centers in from the cold. The more closely you can integrate call center data gathering into your omnichannel strategy, the more comprehensive your understanding of customer experience will be. You also need to take advantage of the call center’s unique role as the direct channel for customer contact, using timely IVRs and real-time analytics to improve customer satisfaction.

Multi-channel CX Calls for New Closed Loop IVR Survey Strategies

Customers have come to expect more from brands as more digital communications and service channels become available for marketing and customer outreach. Today, customers can interact with vendors through their call center, their web site, via chat, via email, and using social media. This puts even more pressure on companies to assess and manage customer experience (CX).

The days of using email surveys as the single feedback channel are over. CX vendors and their customers need to adopt a blend of CX data collection tools including IVR surveys, email surveys, web intercept, and other tools that are better suited to the unique diversity of service channels. In short, single survey mode strategy is dead, accurate CX measurement requires a multi-channel survey strategy.

Accurate CX Feedback Requires the Right Timing and Channel


Customer satisfaction surveys have always been a great tool for gauging brand sentiment, but with customers using so many different communications channels, customer experience tools need to map to the same channels to get a reliable measurement of CX. Customer satisfaction studies need to be refined to accommodate best-of-breed communications channels th

at match the customer’s preferred mode of interaction. In order to be accurate, CX surveys have to be timely and delivered using a channe

l that that encourages response in order to get an accurate net promoter score (NPS).

To capture accurate customer feedback you have to understand the impact of the most recent consumer interaction. Emailing customer surveys days or weeks after an engagement gives you a less than accurate picture since you have no idea what interaction the recipient is responding to. To get an accurate NPS or consumer satisfaction score, you need real-time surveys that relateengagement to the last transaction.

For this reason survey best practices always focus on modes that offer near real-time data collection following the customer journey event.  If they are on web page, an intercept is preferred.  If they are calling into a call center or scheduling field services, a voice survey is best.  Both examples reflect a convenient and timely data experience collection method.  A survey received immediately after a successful purchase, either in-store or online, will be colored by the brand experience where a survey following a customer concern issue will be colored by the service experience. To get an accurate NPS you have to balance the nature of the interaction and the timing of the survey as well as choosing the right channel.

For example, more consumers expect companies to help them find their own answers, and how quickly they find answer to their questions affects brand perception. Fifty percent of consumers believe it is important to solve their own product and service issues, and 70 percent expect the company to have the right answers available online. If a web site search fails to yield the right answers, it adversely affects CX.

The Call Center is Becoming Complaint Central

To make this more complicated, consider that call center volume has dropped 15 percent in the last three years. However, what we are seeing is an escalation of customer service issues being handled by the call center. Lost orders, product issues, service issues, and other problems are being routed to the call center. Closed-loop surveys are likely to be colored by the reason for contacting the call center as much as the quality of the response.

To assure accurate CX feedback you need to consider both the medium and the message; the preferred channels the customers choose as well as the nature of the interaction. To level the playing field and generate more accurate, reliable CX data, choose a response mechanism that suits the channel and generates higher response rates across all channels.

Having consistent benchmarking tools will help generate a more accurate NPS. We have found that companies that use a mix of best-of-breed survey tools for each channel will gain better insight, and that for call centers voice-driven IVR surveys are the best survey tool and yield a higher response rate. Thirty-two percent of consumers have singled out telephone support as the most frustrating way to interact with vendors. Being able to respond quickly with voice-driven IVR surveys can assuage some of that frustration and with real-time transcription tools those responses can be immediately optimized for a more accurate NPS.

CX vendors and brands need to determine the right mix of channels and multi-mode surveys to get valid customer response data. Mixed-mode survey strategies that include email, IVR voice surveys, telephone surveys, and other mechanisms have to be part of the mix for successful closed-loop service recovery as part of today’s multi-channel service strategy.

Call Center CX Surveys Requires Best of Breed Expertise

The term best of breed has been overused, but the concept of finding the best solution for the problem never goes out of style. When it comes to customer experience (CX) surveying, some call centers ignore the best option available and use whatever survey solution is bundled with their call contact center platforms. When you consider the potential value of reliable call center CX surveys, you want to make sure you have the best and most versatile customer survey tools available that can deliver actionable data in real time.

We are seeing a growing trend in call centers to integrate CX data collection and data processing as part of an overall enterprise customer CX management strategy. In an era of increased specialization, it’s becoming more challenging for call center vendors to deliver end-to-end solutions since call centers can no longer be siloed from other enterprise platforms. Adding CX data collection to call centers means managing every touchpoint, including assessment after the call. No vendor can excel at every aspect of customer contact, so using and end-to-end solution provider means you may be missing data collection and analysis opportunities along the way.

Call Center CX Perception is Far from Reality

There has always been a disconnect between the quality of service that call centers think they provide and what the customers true experience. According to a study by Clarabridge, 62 percent of organizations take pride in their call centers as a competitive differentiator, and 80 percent believe they offer “superior” customer service. However, 90 percent of customers say they are dissatisfied with customer service and only 8 percent characterize their call center experience as “superior.” The only way to correct this disconnect is with better CX data.

The importance of call centers as contributors to CX also continues to grow. DMG Consulting expects that the number of call center seats will increase 24 percent by 2020. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 20 percent of companies will dedicate employees to monitor and guide neural networks to augment intelligence for analytics. Many of these neural networks are being created specifically to deal with customer service and call center concerns.

Clearly, call center CX data collection, data mining, and data analytics are playing a more important role in shaping customer experience, so to gain the best results requires the best call center CX survey and data gathering tools.

Call Center Platforms Are Not Geared to CX Research

This is where adopting best-of-breed call center CX surveys and data collection tools makes a real difference. Most of the call center technology providers such as Genesys, Verint, Nice, and InContact include survey data collection as part of their overall offering, but their data collection tools and data processing are not versatile and are hard to adapt to modern CX solutions. For example, some of the most common survey shortfalls in call center platforms include:

  • Inflexible solutions that don’t adapt well to custom requirements;
  • Single-mode email programs regardless of the service channel medium;
  • Very slow implementation;
  • Lack of integration between survey data and call center operational data;
  • Lack of real-time reporting and transcription for faster response;
  • Costly implementation of API to enhance data integration and real-time sample management; and
  • Lack of CX survey best practice consulting.

Creating and managing customer surveys in the call center is a specialized discipline that requires specific expertise and customizable tools.

Voice-driven IVRs are Ideal for Call Center CX Surveys

As experts in CX research for the call center, we continue to see the voice-driven IVR proving itself to be a versatile CX measurement tool:

  • It represents the preferred survey mode for call center consumers of any age or demographic.
  • It is user friendly with voice response rather than menu choices.
  • It provides 100% representative of a call center consumer.
  • It delivers the largest volume of open ended, qualitative data.
  • It is immediately actionable – using real-time transcription, automated systems can flag concerns that need immediate call center attention.

Most importantly, using voice-driven IVR surveys gives the customer a voice they feel will be heard at the same time it provides the call center with real-time, actionable CX intelligence.

In the age of specialization, it pays to employ best-of-breed tools to measure CX in the call center. Call center CX surveys should not be an afterthought. You need to adopt a best-of-breed IVR survey strategy to get the best results.

Voice Surveys Deliver Actionable For Brand Insight

Customer Experience (CX) management continues to be a top strategic initiative in board rooms around the world. In KPMG’s 2017 analysis of Customer Experience Excellence they found that out of 257 brands, the top 25 brands (based on CX rankings) achieved double the revenue growth of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies. That’s why more brand leaders rely on IVR voice surveys.

Measuring CX is more predictive of customer satisfaction than any other form of customer interaction giving you a 30 percent more predictive insight of overall satisfaction. Maximizing customer satisfaction by promoting positive customer journeys also has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent, providing a revenue lift of 15 percent and lowering the cost of customer services by as much as 20 percent.

Note that it’s the entire customer journey that defines CX, not just the call center, so to optimize that journey you need to deliver a positive and consistent brand experience. That brand experience begins very early in the sales process and spans multiple channels and points of contact. Your brand lives and dies by CX so by the time the customer reaches the call center brand impressions are already established. That’s why call center interaction is ideal for gathering qualitative CX data to help refine the customer journey. The challenge has always been capturing call center interaction and quickly converting it into a form that makes insight actionable. That’s where IVR voice surveys with real-time transcription prove invaluable.

In our last blog, we talked about automated transcription, leveraging Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) models. Recording customer calls “for training purposes” or to gauge customers’ brand perspective has little value unless those recordings can be converted to text format that can be readily incorporated into analytics and business processes. As we have noted in the past, manual transcription is time consuming, costly to produce, and cumbersome to read. By the time a call transcript is generated, the opportunity to shape CX and reinforce the brand experience is gone.  Automated Transcription using ASR models provides a near real time ability to transcribe voice data (including IVR voice survey open ends and call center voice recordings) with high accuracy and very low cost.

Real-time transcription and analytics, on the other hand, can drive real-time response.  There are any number of advantages to using AVR for real-time call center transcriptions:

  • It provides a real-time record of the call center exchange, including customer sentiment.
  • It delivers immediate insight into issues that require an immediate response, such as a product failure or service issue.
  • It delivers immediate call center feedback to correct problems and for use in case management and training.

Today, ASR has become highly sophisticated. Our own studies show that ASR delivers more than 90 percent transcription accuracy, and that there is virtually no difference in text analytics coding accuracy (i.e. identifying similar codes from open ends in voice surveys). Couple highly accurate ASR with new analytics technology and you have a powerful tool that can shape the brand experience in near real-time.

Qualitative data will continue to be essential for measuring CX and improving call center operations. What we are starting to see if ASR technology delivering qualitative data for analysis in real-time, which significantly shortens reaction time. The end result is better customer support, an improved brand experience, and ultimately an increase in revenue.

Every Customer Touchpoint Is a Branding Opportunity, Even IVR Surveys

Major brands make a big investment in deploying CX and VoC IVR surveys that reach hundreds of millions of consumers every year. Have you ever stopped to consider the impact those IVR surveys can have on your brand? Sure, following up with customers and prospects shows you care about their opinion, but what does that interaction do for your brand?

We are seeing a new trend among CX practitioners – using the content and design of IVR surveys to enhance and support corporate branding. Today’s consumers expect an experience that reinforces brand association at every touchpoint. In fact, brand loyalty and affiliation often is a primary motivator for survey participation. Surveys are part of the brand experience and should be designed to support the brand as well as data gathering.

When you consider that the cost of a branding campaign can run to tens of millions of dollars, using the CX survey experience to reinforce brand awareness offers an attractive opportunity to support branding initiatives. For example, a typical CX survey may require 3-5 minutes to complete, and many brands will interview millions of consumers a year. This means uninterrupted opportunities to engage the consumer during a survey equal to 3-4 million impressions with a brand experience equal to approximately 4M minutes per million interviews. Wow, what is that worth in pure brand advertising placement?

However, to be successful, CX professionals and marketing need to work together. The survey needs to yield insight as well as delivering a brand message, and too much focus on branding will defeat the purpose of data gathering.

To promote survey participation, the brand message has to be delivered in a manner that is innovative and catches the participants’ attention. Pinpoint believes that each mode of CX survey offers a unique opportunity to create a brand touchpoint using images, voice, and brand language embedded in the survey that promote brand interest as well as gathering customer data.  We believe IVR voice surveys offer a unique ability to leverage voice to enhance the brand experience.  (Contact PinPoint for samples of branding IVR surveys)

PinPoint has developed a best practice for designing surveys to maximize brand experience. Some of these best practices include:

  1.      Leveraging an executive or thought leader as the voice of the business to promote brand recognition and emphasize the importance of listening to the consumer.
  2.      Incorporating branding terms and language that build brand association.
  3.      Designing the survey to focus on the journey touchpoints.
  4.      Creating questions that elicit a more constructive dialog with the consumer.
  5.      Utilizing language that motivates the consumer to provide qualitative data that drives ideation exportation.

Customers reach different “moments of truth” in the CX journey, and innovative survey design coupled with best-of-breed survey modes, like IVR voice surveys, can be deployed at strategic touchpoints to both reinforce and assess recent experience with the brand.

CX surveys offer an untapped opportunity to enhance the brand relationship, and CX practitioners need to view CX surveys as an extension of brand marketing.  Contact us for a free consulting meeting to discuss how to get more value from customer experience research.

Improved ASR Technology Makes IVR Voice Surveys an Essential Call Center Resource

Call center customer experience (CX) continues to be a critical component for both customer retention and brand advocacy. To improve customer service, call center operations continue to focus on acquiring and analyzing voice data to measure the CX experience, drive agent coaching, and improve call center operations. The customer’s voice has become even more powerful in shaping CX thanks to improvements in ASR (Automated Speech Recognition) technology which is powering IVR voice surveys.

ASR is shaping CX and call center operations, providing immediate speech-to-text auto-transcriptions from IVR voice surveys that are more accurate than ever before. Using today’s ASR technology, we can collect and process data from IVR voice surveys with a base accuracy between 84 and 90 percent using an untuned model, and even greater accuracy with a tuned model. And with ASR technology, voice transcriptions are delivered in near real time, as opposed to multiple days, and the cost of auto-transcription is a fraction of manual transcription.

Consider the possibilities of having a real-time call transcript at your fingertips. Integrating auto-transcription with text analytics gives you a new layer of qualitative data that can be mined in various ways.

For example, real-time text analytics allow you to code and analyze voice data enabling post call review and closed loop escalation of call data and open-ends to respond to critical customer needs. You also have new potential applications for improving call center operations, including auto-transcribing call survey open-ends and the auto-transcription of agent customer call center recordings for training and coaching. Accurate call transcripts powered by the latest ASR platform provides a rich store of qualitative data for agent coaching and case management response review, as well as CX analytics.

It’s clear that speech-to-text has become an essential tool for every progressive call center.

The goal of every company is to improve CX, and for many customers call center interactions are the most influential experience, a defining experience within their journey. Using voice data and transcribed text together provides call center operations and CX practitioners with a new and powerful set of tools to drive innovation and improve CX.

Want to learn more about how speech-to-text technology can improve your call center operations? We recently completed a study assessing the effectiveness of voice-to-text for qualitative analysis and will be happy to discuss our results. I look forward to our discussion, contact me

Wanted: Better Qualitative CX Data

If you want to understand the customer experience (CX), you need both quantitative and qualitative CX data. Quantitative research is certainly valuable, especially leveraging rating systems like Net Promoter Score (NPS) where metrics can be tied to revenue growth. However, to get to the “why” of customer behavior you need more, and better qualitative CX data.

As CX expert Bruce Temkin points out, to understand the customer experience you have to ask the customer directly. You can’t take the human experience and translate it into numbers. Once you convert CX into numbers you have lost what the customer is feeling, which means you cannot design an experience that connects with customers. You need to use voice, video, and other means to capture the qualitative customer experience and apply it to CX.

IVR Surveys Deliver More Open Ends

We have seen a growing trend from CX leaders who want to capture and analyze qualitative customer insights, which means more demand for one-on-one data capture and open-end responses in surveys. Recently, for example, we attended a CX conference supported by Forrester where the CXO of Ford Motor Company indicated that acquiring and analyzing open-ended customer data was one of his top priorities. The challenge is finding the best means to conduct those surveys and make qualitative data actionable.

As shown in the graph, our research shows that IVR voice surveys outperform other survey modes including web, mobile, and SMS. IVR voice surveys not only have a higher frequency of open-ended responses, but generate more and better qualitative research data. IVR voice surveys acquired four to six times more open-ended data (based on a character count per open end) than other survey modes. This means that by using voice surveys you are getting more open-ended responses and more in-depth responses to drive insights and ideation.

From Qualitative to Actionable

Of course, gathering consumer responses is only the first step. Processing and mining this CX data in a timely fashion that provides near real-time insights is key to maximizing its value.

The fastest and most cost-effective technique to make voice open ended data actionable is using real-time transcription. Using ASR speech-to-text auto transcription provides written text that can readily be analyzed for sentiment using key words and phrases. Using real-time auto-transcription also can generate alerts for closed-loop response; an ideal solution for customer service call centers.

Open-ended voice response can give you a more accurate barometer to assess customer sentiment. Voice driven IVRs have been shown to give deliver substantially higher response rates, which indicates deeper consumer engagement. And technology such as real-time speech-to-text transcription can make that qualitative data actionable, flagging problems for immediate attention and providing meta data that creates emotion and sentiment scores for each response.

If you need more qualitative consumer CX data and really want to listen to your customers, consider using open-ended voice IVRs. They are your best tool to gather more accurate emotional response CX data, and you can readily convert voice to text for a more accurate picture of sentiment analysis.

If you want a copy of our latest research showing the performance of different types of qualitative research tools, just drop us a line and we’ll be happy to share the results.