“Although the modern contact center extends to email, chat windows, and social media, the voice continues to be the foundation for customer interactions”, Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne, Technology Journalist for UCToday*, reports in his latest article.
According to the latest Global Telecoms Quality of Service Report from Spearline, only 16.2% of contact centers reported more digital interactions than voice interactions, proving that for the vast majority of businesses telephony is still a preferred communication method.
Even with an increase in digital interactions that will see a further 26.9% of contact center interactions made away from the phone predicted in the report, it’s clear that voice has a key role in businesses’ customer experience strategy as a dominant communication method. But one of the problems with voice is that has been hard to improve and coach upon. Although nearly every call you make will have a message saying it may be recorded, the ability for businesses to improve the way contact center agents interact with customers has been arduous in the past.
However, advancements in artificial intelligence have paved the way for better analytics for calls coming into businesses. According to the Global Telecoms Quality of Service Report, 7.8% of all contact centers have implemented speech biometrics, up from 5% in 2016, gathering information from each call in order to identify the best way to proceed.
The future of the Contact Center
Spearline’s Global Telecoms Quality of Service Report details that over 84% of contact center professionals believe that the use of speech analytics will increase over the next five to 10 years, with just under half certain of the rise. This will lead to a more informed contact center able to work on the customer experience and troubleshoot technical problems.
Systems, such as the one provided by Spearline, measure audio quality using the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and standard PESQ (Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality). PESQ is an objective, recognized industry standard that takes into consideration characteristics such as call volume, background noise, latency or lag in audio, and interference. The test compares an audio output at the ‘listener’ end of a phone line with the original voice recording taken at the ‘talker’ side, to form a completely objective measure of the real audio being experienced. This is more accurate than other methods of measuring audio quality, which often relies on predictions of audio quality based on network performance. PESQ returns a score from -0.5 to 4.5, with higher scores indicating better quality.
Call audio may never fully experience the ideal PESQ 4.5, where the listener may be completely at ease, with no effort required to focus on the audio message received, but audio experienced at PESQ 3.7 will have no appreciable effort required. With decreasing PESQ scores, the listener must focus, concentrate and work to understand the message, causing fatigue and creating frustration.
Effect of poor service
The end game of any customer experience strategy is to leave anyone coming to a business happy with the service they received so they will return. Communication is the cornerstone for this strategy, findings from research conducted by the University of Southern California and the Australian National University demonstrate this point. Their research found that the quality of the audio can have an effect on the apparent trustworthiness of the person on the other end of the line, with Norbert Schwarz, a co-director of the Mind & Society Center at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences adding “When you make it difficult for people to process information, it becomes less credible.”
With the use of analytics within the call center, that frustration that comes from poor call quality is avoided, allowing agents to help the customer on the other end of the phone leading to more trust, better efficiency from agents, and a higher success rate for processing problems.
With a dataset containing hundreds of millions of individual data points for 2020, Spearline was able to glean a lot of insights across the 49 countries analyzed. Some of the other trends and headlines they discovered in their analysis asked which country had the most improved audio quality, and saw the biggest fall in the connectivity charts. The report also provided insight into China’s audio quality, connectivity, and PDD scores, and compared them to the USA rankings, the two ‘big hitters’ in the global war for customers and market share. Discover more here.
*article originally published on UCToday.