CX Insight Magazine

October 2022

“Are You Contacting About…?” Understanding Customer Intent To Accelerate Resolution

by Andy Leach, Sr. Account Executive, PTP

Investment in technology designed to improve customer and employee experiences is rapidly increasing. But tools alone won’t get you to the top.

As Customer Experience (CX) leaders and customers ourselves, we intimately understand the power of these quotes. Let’s just say we really get it! We strive to balance the needs of our customers with the needs of our business and teams. We look for ways to keep our operations running smoothly and efficiently while ensuring that our interactions are effective and totally satisfy the customer. We analyze the tactics that power our day-to-day operations and investigate innovations that we can lace into our long-term strategy.

Specifically, we try to give customers choices, keep them informed, and have empathy for their situations while we manage our teams, budgets, and operating plans to attain our key performance indicators (KPIs). But at its core, this work is about taking what we know about customers to predict their needs and using that knowledge to get ahead of those needs, delighting them, and our CFO in the process! At PTP, we help our clients identify and implement opportunities to do just that. In this article, we share some solutions that can help your organization understand customer intent and speed up resolution.

Technology to Guide Your Customers

One incredibly frustrating customer experience is being transferred from agent to agent and forced to answer the same questions again and again. In addition to degrading customer satisfaction, transfers increase handle time, tie up agents unnecessarily, and create a poor agent experience. How can you reduce these resource-draining experiences? Top organizations are enthusiastically adopting machine learning in a variety of ways to understand intent and get customers to the right place the first time.

Recent Execs in the Know research revealed that 51% of consumers prefer to contact customer care via phone or in-person. A great start to this voice journey is conversational IVR!

One advancement is conversational interactive voice response (IVR) that uses speech recognition and natural language understanding to gather customer intent and route the caller appropriately. Machine learning is becoming increasingly effective at detecting the nuances of modern conversation and helping guide callers to the correct place. When married with customer data, a conversational IVR can create the dynamic personalized interactions that customers crave.

Smiling friendly man working in call center office with team as a telemarketing customer service agents

A leading financial services provider client of PTP uses this technology to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of routing. The company’s product portfolio is extensive, so forcing customers to sit through a long menu of product options is a waste of time for the customer and resources for the organization. Instead, the customer can simply describe what they need in their own words. Once they get to the right line of business, the technology can deliver a personalized experience based on recent or regular transactions that occur. For instance, if the customer asks to access their checking account, the system can detect a recurring event (e.g., paydays or transfers) and ask the customer if that is the reason for the call. This “most likely contact” functionality helps the bank understand — even predict — intent and accelerate resolution, which is a win for both parties.

Another artificial intelligence-powered solution that leaders are using to better understand customer intent and reduce resolution time is speech analytics. Once intent is established, speech analytics technology can detect emotions and sentiment to ensure the customer’s issue is being resolved swiftly. These natural language tools can identify when customers are frustrated, upset, confrontational, or even stressed. In real-time, a manager can intervene to help the agent or take over and resolve the issue; for recorded calls, coaching opportunities and process improvements can be revealed and addressed.

Speech analytics can increase cost savings of up to 30% and customer satisfaction score improvements of 10+%, according to McKinsey estimates — compelling considerations for this technology!

This solution is being successfully used at one of our healthcare insurance provider clients, where reasons for contacting customer care can be emotionally charged and resolution can be complicated to understand (deductibles, anyone?). Although agents typically do their best to help, sometimes exchanges are fraught with problems that need to be addressed. Real-time speech analytics can detect these interactions and alert supervisors to intervene and help the customer. Further, this technology records these interactions, which become great post-contact coaching opportunities to advance performance improvement goals.

Real-time speech analytics technology can also be used to help an agent during a live interaction by analyzing the conversation and suggesting the “next best action” for the agent to take based on that analysis. Although this is not widely used at this time, the potential for greatly enhancing agent efficiency, increasing consistency in customer handling, and speeding resolution is limitless. Another positive benefit is reduced onboarding and training time for agents, increasing their productivity and positive contributions to individual and organizational KPIs.

Supporting Your Technology Investment

Investment in technology designed to improve customer and employee experiences is rapidly increasing. But tools alone won’t get you to the top. We all know the CX trinity: people, process, and technology. So, it should come as no surprise that winning organizations also allocate resources to people and process.

In the people category, a great place to start is ensuring that you have the right team members in your organization. Perhaps the most important attribute of CX employees is that true desire to understand what they can do to help customers. Many believe that this is an inherent characteristic that, unlike technical skills, cannot be learned. With self-service and automation technology servicing more and more of our customers, agents are getting the more complex, more difficult to resolve, emotional contacts. This makes an agent’s desire to serve even more important to delivering positive CX. Regularly taking a hard look at your employees’ performance is required to ensure you are getting the most of your tech investments.

The same is true for the third critical component in the CX trinity: process. Top-performing organizations ensure technology implementations include work to understand the implications on existing processes. In a recent technology implementation, we helped a client uncover several antiquated processes that were dragging down customer and employee satisfaction. Despite their multi-million-dollar tech investment, this organization would have been unlikely to recognize the return because of the outdated processes that were in place.

In addition, leading companies ask themselves what should change as a result of new technology deployments. Only after you understand how processes need to change with new advanced technology in place can you reap the full rewards and see a return on your technology investment. Finally, ensuring that you have a sound continuous improvement program is critical. Technology updates and market shifts require leaders to have a way to keep processes updated as well.

Summing It Up

Today’s technology- and data-driven world means deeper, often real-time, connections to our customers. And they want help faster than ever before! Advances in machine learning are powering new technology to help customer service teams understand intent and accelerate resolution for customers in need. Organizations are using conversational IVRs and real-time speech analytics to help achieve this goal. When combined with necessary changes to people and process, technology completes the CX trinity. This approach is tried, tested, and proven to increase resolution, deliver frictionless service, and improve experiences for customers and agents.



Andy Leach
Senior Account Executive

About the Author:

After 20+ years in the Enterprise Software space, the most personally rewarding achievements for Andy have come from providing ideas, solutions, and value that make a significant impact on client business. Andy joined PTP four years ago because they partner with organizations to provide innovative CX solutions that transform customer engagement across marketing, sales, and contact center. Being technology-agnostic, PTP brings a unique perspective across people, process, and technology solutions.

PTP is a professional services firm delivering innovative customer service solutions across contact center infrastructure platforms that cut costs, enhance investments, and improve customer satisfaction.

Learn more at ptpinc.com

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