Revamping Customer Experience In The Insurance Sector Using Speech Analytics.

Written by Karan Tupe

“Every Business is digital. But today, our biggest innovations will not be in the technology tools themselves but in how we design them with people in mind”- Accenture Report.

In the wake of digital age, nearly 80% of customers prefer to purchase insurance products via digital channels according to a research carried out by Bain. With products and services almost identical across the insurance sector it’s the customer experience that will become the product differentiator and the winning factor for insurers. The insurance industry particularly being a customer oriented industry, holds an upper hand at delivering an outstanding customer experience across channels . 91% of consumers say good digital customer service from insurers makes them more loyal. – Eptica

Adapting a central strategy that balances tactical decision-making with strategic investing in the digital ecosystems to ensure long-term growth will be the key to success for the insurance players.

According to a research conducted by Accenture, 75% of insurance executives agree that digital ecosystems are having a noticeable or transformative effect on the insurance sector.

How do the Customers Interact?

The digitally armored customer interacts with insurers through multiple touch-points such as email, web, chat-bots, just to name a few. Email has become a significant part of the customer communication cycle. 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email – Merkle

Allie is Allianz’s online chat-bot available 24/7. It answers customers queries on a wide range on insurance products. Along, with chat-bots the insurance sector has witnessed a rise in rather unconventional but promising touch-point in “voice”. Aviva, an insurance company based out of U.K is testing an insurance jargon buster skill on Alexa.

Alexa is the voice activated service that powers Amazon’s Echo, which enables customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. Aviva enables users to have voice-controlled access to a glossary of over 300 insurance terms and their definitions.

As insurers look to expand into the next generation of digital ecosystems, some may build platforms themselves and create ecosystems with their business at the center. But not every company needs to build unique platforms. Many will find it cheaper and faster to leverage existing platforms as their means to enter new ecosystems.

Leveraging Existing Platforms : Calls a Promising Touch-Point.

The insurance business is unique because even though the customer touch points are few. These few touch-points play a crucial role in making or breaking the reputation of insurers. One such crucial touch point is that of – calls. Most of the time, the customers call their insurance carriers in state of emergency or complex situations when they are in immediate need of assistance. It is very crucial that at this juncture the customer service delivery is seamless and the response is prompt. It is at this moment, when a customer switch is highly likely if the customer does not receive a satisfactory call center experience. 89% of consumers who experience poor service with your brand will leave for your competition. 

Current Call Center Experience :

Despite the rapid growth of online customer service tools, 79% of consumers would prefer to contact a customer service center over the telephone. The client’s seize the fate of an insurance agency on the basis of quality of customer experience offered to them. This appraisable customer service touch-point usually comes from calls, for example : how quickly do they return my calls? 69% of customers said they were on hold for too long when seeking help from a company which lead to a frustrating customer experience – Harris Interactive.

As mentioned above customers are often in state of emergency when they contact an insurance agent. Having to repeat the account information at this state of havoc adds up to a negative customer experience. 84% of customers are frustrated when a representative does not have immediate access to account information. These negative experiences can be altered with some aid from technologies such as speech analytics and machine learning.

Using Speech Analytics To Revamp Call Center Experience :

Recent technological advancements in natural language processing and speech analytics enable organizations to convert raw sound into actionable data. Voice data holds tremendous potential as it not only contains valuable words and sentences which lead to better analytics intelligence, but also contains the tone, intensity and intent of the voice, which can add up to 80% more details, providing for deeper sentiment analytics.

According to a white-paper published by Saama, a customer service representative typically takes down notes on important aspects of a customer call. One of the major drawback of using this primitive method is that there can be up to 70% loss of data (sometimes more) between what the customer says verbally and what the agent captures as notes. This Information delta which might seem to be of no use for the call center agent can prove to be a treasure trove of insights for data scientists and for predictive analytics in general.

Speech Analytics Features :
  • Receive alerts to react quickly on anomalies in the processes.
  • Integrate call data with your existing Digital Strategy.
  • Improve Targeting in campaigns to drive more revenue.
  • Push personalized offers.
Speech Analytics in Action :

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan is using the IBM Watson Explorer. AI platform to classify information. When insurance policy holders call the company’s hotline to make an insurance claim, the IBM Watson supercomputer is able to analyse the customer’s voice and detect keywords. This functionality enables Fukoku to deliver a more personalized customer experience and optimize processes within the business.
Fukoku claims it will increase productivity by
30% and a savings of 1.26 million US dollars.

The Future :

Voice commerce coined as the next big thing in technological landscape coupled with artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way in which consumers use the Internet and buy goods and services online – it’s making purchasing easier and more convenient.

It would be only a matter of time to see customers purchasing insurance with the ease of their voice.

Technologies such as speech analytics enable organizations to facilitate smooth and friction less customer experience.

“89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago” – Gartner survey 

Is speech analytics a part of your digital strategy to improve customer experience?

6 stats that confirm personalisation is the step forward in customer experience strategy.

Written by Karan Tupe

“Nothing ever becomes real ‘til it is experienced” – John Keats

In a digital world, delivering a customer experience that facilitates meaningful long-lasting relationships has been one of the primal challenges that the companies are facing today. A Bloomberg Businessweek survey revealed that “delivering a great customer experience” has become the new imperative: 80% of the companies polled, rated customer experience as a top strategic objective.

Customer_Experience_Strategy

Customer_Experience_Strategy

Personalization is one of the many factors that contribute to the deployment of a successful customer experience by adding a human element to it. A Forrester report confirms, 91% of customers who really feel valued, plan to stay with the brand and 89% plan to spend more.

According to a study sponsored by PwC,  decision-makers were asked what were the primary motives behind personalization initiatives. The answers point out to one simple fact- Retain the customers.  In fact, almost 60% of respondents identified customer loyalty and 33% identified reducing customer churn as one of the primary goals for personalization initiatives. In the age of the customer, personalization is the step forward in customer experience strategy.

Here are 6 stats that confirm the same.

The Industry recognizes its potential :

Seventy-nine percent of decision-makers said that personalization is very important to achieving their top marketing and customer experience goals like increasing customer satisfaction, building customer loyalty, and acquiring new customers. – PwC and Forrester commissioned study.

Talk about numbers :

Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent– Harvard business review.

The Key Ingredient for successful customer experience :

A study conducted by Jabra – “The power of conversations” suggests that “Delighting the customer with personalized service – will make 73% fall in love with your brand. On the contrary, if you anger the customer with poor service – 91% will leave (and tell up to 15 people about it) “.

Customers are willing to share data :

Consumers do want to know what information is being used, and they want retailers to ask permission, but they’re generally willing to trade their information for certain benefits.  This info-graphic sheds light on the fact that consumers do want personalization.

Source: Magnetic/MyBuys (February 2015)

Personalisation Touch Points  :

Digital touchpoints can be defined as the way a customer chooses to interact with an organization. These touchpoints facilitate as mediums of knowledge for businesses to gain data in order to understand more about the customers in general. Although the numbers suggest that nearly all firms personalize through email (87%), far fewer can personalize across newer channels like mobile (52%) and social (61%) –  Forrester

Banking on new touchpoints :
As mentioned above, nearly all firms said they personalize through email (87%), far fewer said they can personalize across new channels like mobile (51%) and social (62%). Less than half of firms are using customer interaction and contextual data for personalization, which means most of their efforts are general and segmented, not focused on the individual.
Organizations need to explore unconventional touch points, to personalize even more effectively. Companies with greater digital capabilities were able to convert sales at a rate 2.5 times greater than companies at the lower level did –McKinsey.

Voice: A touch point with immense potential :

Personalization techniques today are often limited to specific channels. Brands need to focus on unconventional touch points as these points only emerge to grow more of importance in the age of the customer.
Bia Kelsey–  A leading advisory firm states that calls are one of the most under-recognized opportunities of the digital age.
The irony is, though we live in a highly digital age, the need to be communicated by voice persists. Google backs that: 69% of search users report likeliness to use a call button to contact a local business from within mobile search results.

What’s more real and personal than connecting with your customers through voice. Google, Amazon have already started leveraging this fact by launching Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

The frustrations associated with experience design are diminishing and the payoff for the user is instant – they can get the content they want.  For instance: buying washing powder with the ease of voice – a truly great customer experience.

Walmart, one of the world’s biggest retailers has joined hands with Google, to debut voice shopping on Google Home.

Source: Search Engine Land

This partnership will also allow Walmart to take advantage of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Since Google will have access to Walmart customers’ purchase histories, and other valuable data points, it will be able to push personalized promotions to these shoppers. Personalized promotions, combined with the ease of voice ordering, may encourage time-pressed shoppers to purchase more through these devices, thereby driving up e-commerce sales for Walmart.
These examples lay a strong foundation for the growing importance of voice.

Speech Analytics :

Speech analytics is a set of techniques for turning raw sound into actionable data. The best way for companies to better understand their customers is to lend an attentive ear to what they are saying. Mining information during calls to structure it into insightful data is just one of the many advantages of using speech analytics. Speech analytics empowers you to :

  • Pinpoint highlights and pain points in the customer journey.
  • Identify business trends through voice data
  • Leverage predictive analytics to refine the sales process and propose the right offers to the right customers at the right time.
  • Gain business intelligence: Buyer demographics such as gender and age.

Is voice a part of your digital strategy to deploy personalization?

Leveraging calls to push personalized customer experience in the hospitality industry.

Written by Karan Tupe

Leveraging Calls to Push Personalized Customer Experience In The Hospitality Industry.

Travel and tourism, one of the most sought-after activities to relax and explore what the earth has to offer has been growing at an escalating pace. According to WTTC, Travel & Tourism’s direct contribution to global GDP grew by 3.1% in 2016. This was faster than the global economy as a whole which grew at 2.5%, for six consecutive years. The rise in popularity of the sharing economy has made traveling not only more convenient but also less expensive. AirBnB, the world’s largest accommodation provider is known as the poster-child for the sharing economy. An unconventional business model coupled with changing consumer behavior have disrupted the sector and have compelled traditional hoteliers to rethink their customer experience strategy. At a time when customers’ likes and dislikes are constantly evolving, how does one deliver an outstanding customer experience across communication channels?

Millennial Influence
The conventional practice of approaching a travel agent to book a holiday or a business trip is being increasingly disregarded. Travelers today look out for personalization and flexibility. Websites such as Booking.com and AirBnB allow customers to book flights and accommodation on the go. According to a study by Deloitte, millennials, individuals born during the early 1980’s to early 2000 are influencing the travel behaviors of both older and younger generations. Digitally empowered millennials seek personalized communication (via multiple electronic platforms), seamless planning, flawless execution, and an authentic, customized travel experience. A report by AirBnB reports that over 80% millennials seek unique and personalized travel experiences. Millennials are the largest generation ever and by 2025, millennials and younger generations will account for 75% of all consumers and travelers. Personalizing the customer experience is not only necessary, it is also extremely rewarding. But how does one achieve that, exactly?

Most Millennials would prioritize travelling over buying a home or paying off debt.

Personalize to prosper

The new-generation tourism services such as Airbnb have personalisation built into them, but key traditional players are picking up on the trend. In 2014, Accor Hotels unveiled a digital strategy in line with the changing times. This strategy, a five-year, €225-million investment plan places emphasis on personalizing the customer experience with follow-ups, feedback collection, and business intelligence gathering. Accor Hotels’ customers can download a single, centralized app on their mobile phone, and from there, book their journeys, get a personalized follow-up, give feedback, and ask for help. The data collected from these interactions are continuously crunched to improve the quality of service.

Beyond Digital

Although, focusing on digital touchpoints alone is not enough. Most people still want to talk to a real person before making complex decisions such as buying a car, subscribing to an insurance policy or booking a family trip. A study by Google indicates that 70% of consumers who use their mobile to purchase goods and services have used the “click-to-call” button to talk to someone. 68% of travel users find it extremely important to call up a hotel during the purchase phase and 39% of them frequently call during the research phase. If you were planning on going all-digital and calling quits with your call center, consider this: 47% of mobile searchers will look elsewhere if your company does not provide them with a phone number. 

Calls are a key touchpoint

According to the advertising and marketing advisory firm BIA/Kelsey, calls to businesses are expected to exceed $169 billion per year by 2020. These calls are 10-15 times more likely to generate a successful sale or follow-up activity than digital form submissions, which means they are more efficient in generating revenue. So, how does one leverage calls and turn it into a valuable touch-point to gather data.

Source :  Google

Using Speech Analytics

Humans generally speak at 125-175  and can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute. In contrast, the average typist writes 38-40 words per minute — and that’s on a full keyboard, not a smartphone. Spoken language is also qualitatively richer and more expressive than text. The technologies needed to leverage this information, however, have only matured in recent years with the staggering progress of speech recognition and the emergence of nonverbal analytics (i.e. the analysis of tone and other cues to understand social interaction). As early as 2010, David Pogue declared that “speech recognition technologies [were] no longer clumsy exercises in futility”. And plenty of progress has been made since then. In 2015, Baidu surprised the world when it released Deep Speech, the first speech recognition model to rival people on certain recognition tasks, in English and Chinese!

Speech analytics empowers companies to pick up on customer problems, gather feedback and personalize the customer journey. Combined with predictive AI, speech analytics can also be used to predict the outcome of calls, in real-time, and guide your sales or support agents to success.

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To keep things concrete, let’s look at an example of how a travel agency can leverage call data:

You are running a promotional offer on one of your holiday packages, which are priced at 3500$. Unfortunately, there is a bug in the digital payment portal. In one month, 30 customers call up your agents and report a payment error. 70 more people encountered the problem online but gave up without calling. That’s a cumulative loss of $245k. Hurts, doesn’t it?

Without speech analytics, picking up on such problems would be a headache. Traditional approaches to call quality monitoring involve listening to a tiny fraction of all calls and doing customer satisfaction surveys. These techniques are unable to capture global trends or to understand disgruntled customers who refuse to answer surveys or are simply never asked.

With speech recognition and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), problems such as online payment bugs can be identified quickly and reliably, allowing the company to quickly fix problems before they wreak havoc on the bottom line.

Before speech analytics, calls were a black hole in the customer journey. With speech analytics, they become a treasure trove of insight. Are you making the most out of calls?

Converting the Voice of Your Customers into Business Success.

Written by Karan Tupe

 

“89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago” – Gartner survey 

Indeed, customer experience has become the new battlefield. Google, Facebook and Amazon have been faring exceptionally well in the customer service arena. What makes them so good at what they do? The common thread that weaves through these success stories is the use of customer data. Google leverages email content and user search entries to feed their data lake and send targeted offers to their users.

Amazon’s recommendation engine, which allows users to get relevant offers, has proven to be a great success. The recommendation engine is an offshoot of their data-driven marketing efforts and generates as much as 35% of their total revenue- Martech. Netflix has grown exponentially in the last few years thanks to its outstanding recommendation system.By developing algorithms that understand our habits, tastes and lifestyles tech companies have created online experiences that are tailored to each user and at a massive scale.

Rising customer expectations

« 86% of customers surveyed have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. That’s up from 59%, four years ago » 

The Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Report indicated that 86% of customers surveyed have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. That’s up from 59% four years ago. The outstanding customer service provided by these tech-giants have led to a rise in customer expectations.

Technology by itself isn’t the real disruptor. Being non-customer-centric is the biggest threat to any business.  – Alberto Brea .

  • Netflix did not kill blockbusters. Ridiculous late fees did.
  • Uber did not kill the taxi business. Limited taxi access and lack of fare control did.
  • Apple did not kill the music Industry. Being forced to buy full-length albums did.
  • Amazon did not kill retail stores. Bad customer service and experience did.
  • Airbnb isn’t killing the hotel industry. Limited availability and pricing options is.
Uneven distribution of technology

As science fiction author William Gibson said “the future is already here but it is unevenly distributed”. – Author of Neuromancer.

This is especially true for customer relations. We have witnessed an exponential rise in the use of digital channels. Email has become a significant part of the customer communication cycle. 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email – Merkle. The much-talked-about chat-bots are slowly but steadily acquiring their place in the industry too. One area of customer relations, however, is lagging behind. While the data from digital communication channels is heavily exploited by most companies, phone conversations are a black hole in the customer journey. As a result, call centers are still seen as cost centers rather than the treasure-troves of customer data.

Rise and fall of call-centers

Call centers hark back to the 1960’s with the UK-based Birmingham Press and Mail. While technology and customer relation practices have evolved at an astounding pace since 1960, call centers still work in basically the same way as they did at the time of their inception. Contact centers still use conventional practices such as scripts to respond to queries, giving the customer the impression of being just another caller.

Customers are often asked to explain their situation with every call as their information is not passed down from agent to agent, which makes for a clunky and frustrating customer experience. Productivity is still often measured in purely quantitative terms using the AHT (Average handling time: the time spent on handling calls). (Source: Polls : CallCenterHelper, see graph below). Clearly, measuring calls quantitatively does not give you any insight on what actually goes on during the calls. To gather customer feedback, contact centers usually call up customers after their interaction, a time-consuming and expensive process. The results of such surveys are unfortunately unreliable because only a fraction of customers answer them, and those who do may not be representative of the whole population.

Average handling time in call centers

Customer Experience Call Center productivity

Source: Polls : CallCenterHelper

When asked “would you rather clean a toilet or contact customer service?42% chose “clean the toilet” in 2015 and 38% in 2016- Aspect SurveyCustomers are becoming increasingly frustrated with contact centers.

Recent technological innovations in speech-to-text, signal processing and natural language understanding (NLU) make it possible for contact centers to overhaul their service strategy and dramatically improve customer service.

Source: Aspect Survey

Taking a data dive

There is more data available to businesses than ever before. Customers engage with businesses through various touch points: email, mobile and live chat. Gathering data from these touch points has become essential for businesses to drive growth.

Data acquired from the voice can be used to draw a detailed and robust picture of user behavior. Thus, contact centers can help businesses in feeding their data lake: a single location where all customer information is stored and where you can uncover insights on consumer behavior.

Speech analytics: A promising solution

Speech analytics are a set of techniques for turning raw sound into actionable data.

“2016 was the year of speech analytics. Companies that valued their customers’ opinions began adopting this “must-have” strategic solution. The market grew by 30.1% as enterprises large and small, in all verticals and in many countries, decided to invest in this application – dmgconsult. 

The best way for companies to better understand their customers is to lend an attentive ear to what they are saying. Mining information during calls to structure it into insightful data is just one of the many advantages of using speech analytics. Speech analytics empowers you to :

  • Pinpoint highlights and pain points in the customer journey.
  • Identify business trends through voice data
  • Leverage predictive analytics to refine the sales process and propose the right offers to the right customers at the right time.
  • Gain business intelligence : buyer demographics such as gender and age.

Is voice a part of your digital strategy to improve customer experience. Does your contact center use any of these technologies?