4 Key Benefits of the New VocalQ℠

Used effectively, the VocalQ framework is a strategic differentiator and delivers considerable benefits.  Speech recognition and analysis has come along way in the last decade and the technology is poised to accelerate in the next.  The day is not too far off when speech recognition and analytics will morph from improving customer interactions to being the customer interaction.  Our goal with VocalQis to help companies realize the benefits:

Reduced Costs  – Companies gain valuable insight into the inefficiencies of their operations.  Speech analytics help to decrease call times by training agents to be more effective in harvesting information from customers.  Currently, many businesses measure quantitative call data like; how many calls were received, how many calls were abandoned, how many rings it takes to answer an inbound call, etc. This data only answers “what” communication is happening within your business. VocalQ measures the context and content of your communications.

Better Customer Retention – Cash spent on retaining customers through improving customer service is far less than that needed to gain a new customer.  In addition to measuring quantitative and descriptive data, VocalQ goes a step further by recording and alerting on the quality of interactions. With VocalQ, What's Your VocalQ?calls are sampled with call recording and the dialog is benchmarked.  Things like customers having to repeat themselves and correct responses to questions can be measured.  Furthermore, the recorded conversations can be compared against customer surveys so supervisors can discover why an interaction went well or went awry.

Cross Selling – Speech Analytics identify opportunities to increase sales conversion rates, both for new customers and up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.

Reduced Risks – Using speech analytics enables a business to quickly identify potential regulatory failures or locate poorly performing agents.  Rather than relying on gut feeling, you “hear” the voice of the customer, analyze the interaction in real-time, and make better strategic decisions about your company.  The ability to take immediate action on “voice alerts” is another benefit of VocalQ.  Supervisors can identify critical words and phrases in conversations and receive real-time alerts to remedy the situation now rather than later.

What other benefits have you experienced with the New VocalQ?


A New Framework for Evaluating Customer Interactions

Today we propose a new framework for analyzing and improving customer interactions within your organization.  Rather than rely on quantitative and descriptive measurements, such as rings to answer, we suggest shifting the focus to the quality of interaction and prescriptive measurements.  In this framework, calls are sampled with call recording, and the dialog is benchmarked.  Things like: customers having to repeat themselves, and correct responses to questions, can be measured.

What is Your #VocalQ?

Recorded conversations can be compared against customer surveys so supervisors can discover why an interaction went well or went awry.  Supervisors can listen for a tone that is professional and empathetic.  A qualitative score is determined and the best conversations then saved for future customer service training.   This framework for measuring customer interactions – both in a descriptive and prescriptive manner – is outlined below:

Measurement Criteria



Prescriptive Measuring metrics that directly effect customer satisfaction and taking action on them.

Example:  Average wait times exceeding prescribed limit

Action: Automatically put more agents in the queue

Monitoring actual conversations in the customer engagement and using voice triggers

Example: Recognizing words that indicate positive experience and saving conversation

Action: Measuring other agents against the positive interaction

Descriptive Data that describes the details about the call

Example: Call Detail Logs (answer time, time of call, duration, etc.)

Data or recordings that describe the details about customer conversations

Example: Measuring how long it took the customer to get their issue resolved.

An example of using this framework:

Record the first request of customers, and then capture the response of the service representative.  The reaction of a representative to a hostile customer is often key to defusing a tough situation.  Phrases like “I am sorry a mistake was made” versus “I am sorry I made a mistake” can steer the conversation in a different direction.   The context is what is important and prescriptive/qualitative data about what was said helps improve the engagement.

The ability to take immediate action on words that we call “voice triggers” is another benefit of this framework:

Supervisors can identify critical words and phrases in conversations.  Phrases such as “system outage” or “I am down” are used to trigger text messages to supervisors who can automatically add customer service agents into the queue.  The ability to address problems immediately improves the processes and procedures at the frontline that drive the business.

What is your Vocal Q?

Do you know if your voice interactions are consistent with what you want your brand to represent?

In today’s highly competitive market, every customer interaction represents your brand. This not only includes interactions with your contact center, but also every employee who engages with your customer.  Today we have tools to help measure customer engagements and evaluate the context of the interaction.  We have the ability to hear the “voice of the customer” and improve the interactions we have with them.

Poor customer interactions are a huge problem in organizations.  Nearly 70% of consumers said they had ended a relationship due to poor customer service alone.

What is the cause-and-effect of this?

The root causes of poor service are:

  • Being trapped in automated self-service
  • Being forced to wait too long for service
  • Customers having to repeat themselves
  • Representatives that lack the skills to answer customers’ inquiries

The vast majority of organizations are paying attention to the wrong metrics.  Most organizations are spending their efforts on quantitative data like queue holding times and speed to answer, or worse yet – relying on short surveys that are viewed as intrusive and rarely answered.  If firms want to ensure positive customer experiences whenever customers interact with the company, they must focus on qualitative data like:

  • “How long did it take my customer to get to the person who could solve their problem?”
  • “Did the representative(s) ask the customer to repeat themselves?”
  • “Did the representative have the skills to answer the question correctly?”

Without quality, quantity means nothing.

Organizations are not properly analyzing the data surrounding customer interactions – they are being descriptive when they should be prescriptive.  A prescriptive analysis examines customer interactions in order to determine what should be, rather than what IS.  In a customer experience context, this can be more useful to decision makers than basic phone log data.  A descriptive analysis, on the other hand, seeks only to measure and explain what is, rather than what should be.  A descriptive analysis describes reality without an opinion; it is a guide for future action, but does not directly advocate action.  If firms want to improve their customer interactions, they need to be prescriptive and link the data to actions that will directly impact a positive customer experience.

Are you descriptive or prescriptive?

‘Telephone’ was a Fun Childhood Game, but Do You Really Want to Play it in Your Business?

Do your reports match reality? Are your decisions based on reality or secondhand information?

‘Telephone’ is a game in which one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group.  It is often regarded as a metaphor for cumulative error, especially the inaccuracies as rumors or gossip spread, or, more generally, for the unreliability of human recollection.

There’s no doubt this game is amusing as a child, but how comical would the inaccuracy of human recollection become if you played it in your business?  How much laughter would you still hear if you discovered one of your previously ambitious account executives could no longer close new business?

Would you giggle if you were no longer profitable?

In this fictitious game of Telephone, casual chatter about the latest opportunities circulate around the sales community over the course of the week.  The seemingly innocent conversations cause an ambitious senior account executive to feel the effects of miscommunication around the office.  Adam is a consistently high performer, but when his boss, Gary, hears the misshapen truth of Adam’s latest lead, tension arises:

Adam: “I’ve met with the client several times but they’re a bit tough.  I have another meeting tomorrow and am hoping to close the deal.”

Bill: “He’s met with the client several times and they’re tough.  He has another meeting and might close the deal.”

Christine: “He’s met with the client several times and they’re really difficult to deal with.  He might close the deal.”

Diane: “He’s met with that impossible client multiple times but he said he hasn’t closed the deal yet.”

Eileen: “He said he’s met with that impossible client but he still hasn’t closed the deal.”

Frank: “He said that client is impossible and he can’t close the deal.”

Gary: “Adam, are you calling our clients impossible?  If you can’t close the deal I can give it to someone else.”

Which company are you?  Which company do you want to be?

To Adam’s surprise, the perseverance and positive attitude he shared with a coworker earlier in the week had inaccurately passed through a line of people – just as in the Telephone game.  The snowball of miscommunication created a distorted perception of Adam because the inaccuracies of human recollection are unfortunately inevitable.  Adam was advertised as the exact opposite of determined; and in this case, there’s no evidence to support what Adam really said.

While this is a fictional example for our purposes, situations like this are real.  They happen everyday both internally and externally, through all channels of communication: in-person, through email, and on our business lines.  With all those channels of communication, how easily can you access the necessary evidence to fairly dispute customer complaints?

Just as your CEO wants the knowledge to accurately address your largest client’s concerns, you need this knowledge to moderately settle even the smallest discrepancies.  Quantitative data is great for good companies, but qualitative, context data turns the good company into a great company.  Take Company A and Company B, for example:

Company A knows how many phone calls they receive in the office and who is calling.

Company B knows how many phone calls they receive in the office, who is calling and on what device, who they want to speak with and what they’re saying, who they spoke with and what they said before, when a dispute is escalating, what the dispute is about, and where the dispute originated from.

Which company do you want to be?

Think Before You Speak: Even the Wires Have Ears

What is the most common statement of praise you get from your clients?  What is the most common complaint your customers have?

Who do you remember more: the angry customer or the happy customer?  More often than not, we remember the angry customer because there is more of a story to tell and usually an immediate call-to-action.  Your CEO probably hears stories of irritated, annoyed and frustrated clients regularly, but how many times do they hear about all the great things you’re doing everyday to deliver first-rate customer service?

Isn’t this information important too?

People share negative stories more than positive experiences – especially socially.  It’s rare for someone to be out with a friend and say, “I got this really nice call center agent on the phone today and she was so helpful.”  You’re much more likely to hear someone say, “The customer service rep I got on the phone today was completely clueless.  I’m switching services.  XYZ Company is awful!”

About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people about their experience (White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC), and according to Facebook, the average user has 130 friends.  That means that if 130 dissatisfied Facebook users told 20 people each about their experience, 2,600 people now think your company delivers poor customer service.

Do you know what they’re saying about you?

Whether you’re disputing false statements or endorsing true experiences about your company brand or promoting your product to a potential customer, you need firsthand knowledge of past conversations to settle the dust in the air.   Likewise, when reviewing your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you need positive feedback in your reports.  Conversations and disagreements also happen within your company; you want the knowledge to handle disputes fairly.  Great customer service comes from happy employees, and happy employees receive both constructive and positive feedback.  No one wants skewed data.  You should be able to gather statistics on important keywords, save and share useful evaluations, and train employees with real live recorded examples – all on one platform.

Eliminate the Paper Cuts in Your Preparation

How often does your largest client call…and whom are they calling?

Even if your CEO has never asked you this question, knowing how often and whom within your company your top client calls IS information they want.  The real question is: If you were asked for this information, could you gather it…quickly? 

You of course have filing cabinets filled with old telephone bills that yoEliminate the Paper Cuts in Your Preparationu can sort through to get the information you need, but what if your CEO asks you for this data in a meeting with your peers?  What if they need the information by tomorrow for a meeting with that client?

For many people the next step will be preparing to endure some severe paper cuts as they dig through old phone bills to pull the requested data.  On top of that, if you’ve been tasked with gathering the most recent data including today’s call logs – you have an additional problem: Your most recent bill only shows calls from two weeks ago, and the new bill won’t arrive for another 3 days.  What are you going to do?

Here are your options.

Answer 1 – You can face the music and admit defeat,

Answer 2 – Or… you can implement hosted recording and analytics into your business that give you the power to pull real-time, up-to-date, statistics on the fly.  You can sort by most frequent callers, most active call handlers, or both – and for those complex clients with multiple locations – calls by location.

Gathering information in preparation for large client meetings is a no-brainer.  Gathering the information that best helps you streamline large client meetings to focus on your customer’s needs is challenging.  Knowing how often your clients are calling, who they’re calling, and what they’re saying is the information you need to address their concerns before the fire alarm sounds.  By going with Answer 2, your CEO has the knowledge to accurately and efficiently address the customer relationship, taking them from satisfied to loyal.

By going with Answer 2 …You have successfully avoided possible death by a thousand paper cuts, and your boss is happily on their way to that important meeting – with accurate information.

Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

Do you remember back in 2004 and 2005, how hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma caused power outages and downed phone lines for days?  No one could receive and make phone calls, retrieve voicemails, access files or databases, check email, log onto the Internet, surf the web…nothing.  All of those things were stored on hard drives, CDs, or DVDs – and in most cases – hidden in the back closet of a business.

You probably waited for an expensive IT specialist to show up and save the day, and he probably never came by until the next day…or maybe even the day after that.  What was your opportunity cost?  What did you lose?  Hundreds?  Thousands? Over 50% of companies who suffer from major outages never financially recover and go under years after such disasters.

This is an extreme example, but what if you had an automated disaster recovery plan in place to cover your losses?  Most instances of data loss are minor and quickly rectified in minutes, but have you really thought of what you’re losing in those few moments?  When your system is down for 3 days, do you customers know it?  Do you have a Plan B for ensuring your employees remain productive?  Do you know how to prevent customers from moving to the competition?

Imagine for a moment…

Like most days in Florida, the sun is shining, but within 10 minutes a storm rolls in, and within another 10 minutes the power goes out.  All of your network equipment and servers are in your office closet and instantly shut down.  You can’t get a dial tone to return that lost call.

Your employees and your customers are paralyzed.  The world stops turning.  New deals are lost.  Customers grow impatient.  What was business as usual is now lost time and more importantly – lost dollars.

Now imagine moving all of those things from your back closet to multiple, secure data centers in multiple remote locations, where you can shift to your mobile phone or home office phone.  You could continue accessing files – and your customers would never know the difference.

The Cloud is your disaster recovery plan – no matter what the magnitude of power and data loss – small or large, from sudden rainstorms to northern blizzards.  When your office loses power, you can reroute calls with the click of mouse – from anywhere.  Dynamically setup remote office capabilities.  Manage your phone system from any Web browser.

Make sure your employees remain productive.  Make sure they’re ready for anything.  Give them power and flexibility.  We’re ready.  Are you?