5 ways to improve your customer experience with conversation intelligence

Carolyn Elder

June 22, 2020

How our customer success team uses the power of conversation intelligence to improve customer experience by listening at scale, turning raw, unstructured voice of customer data into actionable insight so you can transform your business and your customer experience. 

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Without listening to our own customers’ feedback, Tethr wouldn’t be the enterprise listening platform it is today. Shares our Chief Customer & Strategy Officer, Steve Trier, on how Tethr became Tethr: it was “our people and our willingness to adopt new processes and adapt to new customer needs quickly. Our customers are the most important factor; their willingness to share feedback with us means they want to use Tethr and make it better.”

Thousands of agents, managers, supervisors, directors, senior managers, and CX professionals of all stripes across companies — from small to large enterprises — use Tethr’s foundational conversation intelligence every day, right out-of-the-box, to gather actionable insights into how to improve customer experience. And, they use it in more places than just the contact center.

Tethr’s proven ability to gather rich voice of customer data as soon as you turn it on gives businesses both the insight and the actionable next step across the enterprise — from product and engineering to marketing and compliance departments, to name just a few.

Illustration of key effort, customer disloyalty and customer churn on a customer interaction | Improve CX with conversation intelligence

While we know our customer experience-focused conversation intelligence platform equips sales and service teams with the what, the why and the how of their omnichannel customer interactions, we want you to know too.

For customer-facing teams, we'll give you a peek into how our expert-level Customer Success team uses Tethr to improve the customer experience for our customers every day. (Although, you won’t need a Ph.D. in Data Science to put any and all of these strategies into practice right now in Tethr so you can dive even deeper into the voice of your customers.)

So, let's get started by taking a look at the top five ways we use Tethr to gain insight and take action to improve the customer experience for our customers:

We'll help you understand what CX is and why effort matters most. Then, show you how Tethr’s customer success team defines the what, why and how of voice of customer data.

  1. Effortlessly analyze 100% of trends on your customer interactions
  2. Distribute customer experience data to your entire team in visual dashboards and customer data-rich exports
  3. Zero in on what needs help to improve your customer experience
  4. Reports help you coach agent behavior and move key behavioral metrics
  5. Use VoC insights to unravel business process inefficiencies and improve customer experience in the customer journey

We’ll also show you the insights that matter and the actions that make a difference in the customer journey. (Pssst ... and, you can check out the customer conversation analytics features that will get you started building your conversation intelligence here.)

Wait, what is ‘customer experience’?

First, let's make sure we're speaking the same language before diving into the deep end of the customer experience pool. Customer experience, or CX, refers to the sum of all your customer's experiences with your business and brand.

CX includes every direct interaction your business has with its customers — from a phone call to a chat message from your website to an email to your customer support staff to troubleshoot a problem and a service call onsite to your home or business.

The customer experience also includes every indirect touchpoint you have with your customer along your journey together. From every touchpoint in your digital or product experience (like signing up for a product or service on your website and using it) to every one of your customer communications and self-service channels (like engaging with one of your emails, downloading a whitepaper or watching a video on one of your social media channels).

Customer experience is the umbrella under which customer service falls, as is your sales, your product, business operations and compliance. Your customer service operation is one of many elements of your overall experience with which a potential customer may interact. That's a lot, you might think. And you're right -- that's why making sure you've strategized to improve the customer experience is so important.

“How do you deliver on what you say you’ll deliver with the least possible effort for your customer?”

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You've likely heard a lot of talk about surprising or delighting customers to improve brand or customer loyalty or going above and beyond to make a happy customer and create an exceptional customer experience. At Tethr, we know the foundation of a great customer experience revolves around one thing: effort. To improve customer experience, you need to ask yourself one thing: how do you deliver on what you say you'll deliver with the least possible effort for your customer?

More than a decade of our combined research around the CX has shown that companies hit the payload of loyal customer gold at the point where they meet their customer's expectations. That's the bottom line. We know that reducing effort mitigates customer disloyalty (ahem, improving customer loyalty and retention).

Illustration of customer effort churn and product feedback that drive effort on a customer call | Tethr conversation intelligence

We also know that high-effort interactions with companies increase negative associations with their brand (influencing conversion decisions long before a potential customer becomes a customer and decreasing existing customers' loyalty). So, once you've perfected the art of reducing your customer's effort in dealing with your company, then surprise them. Heck, delight the blazes out of them! But only after you've gotten the basics right of meeting their expectations.

To meet your customers’ basic expectations, start with understanding what, why, and how effort is or is not happening in your customer's journey. We do that at Tethr by analyzing your raw voice of customer data for its actionable insight. Let's take a look at what we mean.

How Tethr’s customer success team defines the what, why and how of voice of customer data

Tethr helps companies detangle the often messy ball of yarn of what their customers are reaching out about by listening at scale. At the same time, we use Tethr to uncover 'why' and 'how' the potentially effort-driving inquiry or issue came to be. With this information in hand, we empower companies to go from reactive to proactive about when they get ready to improve the customer experience. It's what we call, powering the listening enterprise.

Illustration of how to start understanding the what, why and how of your customer experience | Tethr conversation intelligence

But before we get into the nuts and bolts of how we do this within the platform, let’s look at how we define the ‘whats,’ ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the customer’s journey through the customer experience. (We promise we'll get to the part about how to improve the customer experience soon!)

  • The what is the outcome that’s impacting your business, whether it’s a service or membership cancellation or an account closing or an influx of expensive calls. 
  • The why is the deeper set of reasons and experiences in your customer’s journey that leads to the business outcome. Whether your customer feels confused, frustrated, ignored or like they have to exert a lot of effort to do business with your company.
  • The how is often defined by you depending on your business model. Ask yourself how you will use this insight to improve existing business processes, technology or help your organization coach and support employee skill-building to resolve the issue.

At Tethr, we find the majority of our customers’ experience drivers fall into one of two general buckets:

Two examples of how Tethr defines the what, why and how by listening at scale:

Effort-related drivers and their reasons:


Customer cancellation


Cancel reason

An expired email offer promising more than the company can offer is sent by mistake, causing customer confusion, frustration and uncertainty.


Use conversation intelligence to identify impact within hours utilizing Tethr effort libraries and a custom-built category in the language of the expired email offer.

Create troubleshooting steps by modifying the agent’s messaging with customers.

Monitor results post-mitigation and report on them at every level of your organization.

Call reduction-related drivers and their reasons:


Customer calling to reschedule a service


Reschedule reason

Your company’s service person didn’t show up for a scheduled appointment, causing customer confusion and frustration and forcing them to call multiple times to set up another appointment.


Use conversation intelligence to identify impact over time utilizing Tethr effort libraries and a conditional category sequence that allows you to report on and measure process breaks in the sequence that’s important to your business for either cost savings or revenue generation.

Measure and monitor if the needle is moving in a positive or negative direction.

Identify where the process breaks occur and report on the results at every level of your organization.

Top five ways our customer success team uses Tethr to turn insight into action to improve customer experience

Now that we all understand what's a 'what' and what's a 'why' or a 'how,' let's dive into the top ways we use Tethr to take unstructured voice data from customer interactions, parse out the insight, then turn it into action. These actions have the power to change perspective, behavior and align the business in response to actual customer needs and pain points.

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1. Effortlessly analyze 100% of trends on your customer interactions

At the highest level, Tethr helps you analyze 100% of the trends in your interactions without having to open up and dive into each call's audio or chat message.

The reality before speech analytics tools like Tethr came to market, is that most supervisors had to painstakingly listen to each call to track behaviors in their agent/customer interactions. With the natural time and energy limitations of a human, a supervisor could realistically only review four of their customer calls per month. And, the even more unfortunate reality is that those four calls became a customer care baseline of sorts — what companies were basing their coaching and performance reviews on!

Fast-forward to today and thankfully with conversation intelligence platforms like Tethr, supervisors can now look at simple, yet robust, reporting dashboards that reflect key trends in their agents' behaviors without opening a single call recording. And, they can do it at scale. What was once four calls becomes hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands of customer interactions that widen the breadth of the voice of customer data you’ll gain insight from.

improve customer experience chart 2 | Tethr conversation intelligence

But it's not only about widening the VoC dataset, it's also about deepening your understanding around the voice of your customer. Before Tethr, companies measured what they could consistently find on calls. With Tethr, you can detect trends that were previously undetectable or left to chance. You can not only find the top-level patterns and reasons for a specific business outcome; you can dive deeply into its secondary reasons and specifics of a reason across a broad range of interactions.

“You’re telling me I can see 100% of each agent’s calls? I’ve never been able to see 100% of an agent’s calls so easily!”

QA Manager at a Fortune 500 lawn care company

So, you're seeing more of what's happening and why to report on it across your business. Tethr's scalable conversation analytics allow you to reinforce trend analysis depth. Let's use an example to understand the depth of trends you can uncover:

You've got to review a minimum of at least 100 calls, and you need to find all calls for customers who canceled. So, you can give the customer care team feedback on a random sample of, let's say, 15 of those calls that you plan to build a marketing strategy from.

improve customer experience | Tethr conversation intelligence

In Tethr, you can look at a broader volume of calls (increase the 100 to 1,000+) and then look at the reason for each call, digging deeper into trends for ‘why the cancellation occurred’ on the call. Our customer success manager would start by building a category called ‘Cancel Account’ and then look at all calls where this category occurs.

Next, we'd drill down into each agent on the call or chat, by name, to find out cancellation reasons across agents. Tethr allows you to build reason trees bubbling up the deeper why you're wondering about. Maybe the product or service/membership was 'too expensive'. Perhaps the customer is 'moving' and you don't offer the service in their new location. Maybe they found they 'don't use the service', felt it had 'no benefits' to them, or were courted by a competitor with a 'better price'. In all of these cases, the what isn't very useful without the why. And, neither will help you improve your product or service if it's based on just a few interactions.

2. Distribute customer experience data to your entire team in visual dashboards and customer data-rich exports

Give your entire organization access to the voice of your customer and the insights that matter to them. What matters to your agent or your floor supervisor compared to what matters to your VP of Customer Service or your Chief Customer Experience Officer is naturally going to be different. Tethr lets you customize how you communicate the whats, whys and hows of your customer experience-focused business objective reporting to the varying needs of roles at all levels of your organization.

“Tethr can not only help us focus on our needs with support teams in the call center, but it will also help us uncover the needs across our entire company.”

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Director, Quality at a Fortune 500 logistics company

A successful, holistic customer experience strategy can't be a siloed one. And, supplying your entire organization with the kind of actionable insight that comes directly from your customer interactions, at scale, positions you to identify customer needs and pain points you can actually solve wherever they're happening in the customer's journey. In turn, this can help you strategically optimize your overall experience. Just think how improving touchpoints like these could improve your customer experience with every part of your organization:

Customize the view of your business objectives using Tethr dashboards | Tethr conversational intelligence

Our customer success team suggests distributing customer experience data organization-wide using dashboards based on major customer effort drivers we know from our research, like ‘repeat contacts’. Using Tethr’s dashboards, which are a compilation of reports and graphs that visualize your customer interaction data, our customer success team empowers our customers to give their VP of Customer Service the numbers that matter to them to make strategic decisions while also giving their director, manager and supervisor the agent-level numbers that help them define baselines for their customer service team and create goals and focal points for call center growth and improvement.

Once you’ve got a dashboard that succinctly and powerfully communicates the what’s and why’s of what’s working and what’s not working in your customer support center, you can easily share this actionable insight with the rest of the organization using Tethr’s sharing features at the report, dashboard and folder-level.

Customize the view of your business objectives using Tethr dashboards and share across roles in your org blur | Tethr conversation intelligence.png

Finally, to put the cherry on the top of a holistic customer experience strategy, your voice of customer data needs to be visible and accessible throughout your organization. To make your data available and unify insight across your existing set of business intelligence (BI) tools organization-wide, our customer success team uses Tethr’s interaction detail export.

This comprehensive export feature gives admin users in Tethr the ability to download every type of customer metadata at an interaction level. So the performance across all of your Tethr categories and interactions — including effort scores, QA scores, and other interaction details — can be easily exported to CSV. This export makes it super simple to share a deep level of customer data with other business units or teams who don't have access to Tethr. The result: you unify your voice of customer data across your existing set of business intelligence tools, aligning the experience around accurate VoC insights and making more sound business decisions organization-wide.

Export interaction detail report | Tethr conversation intelligence

Powered with fully-distributed VoC insight, each of your teams can identify customer pain points in their areas of expertise. Only now can you address your customers' needs faster, improve the quality and usability of your product or service and even increase upsell opportunities in your sales organization.

This kind of data distribution doesn't just give your entire organization a dashboard view into the kinds of low-effort experiences that drive customer acquisition and customer retention, resulting in your customers' loyalty. Tethr allows you to give every team in your organization access directly to the VoC to power your existing suite of Business Intelligence tools, so that no customer or voice is left behind.

3. Zero in on what needs help and why to improve your customer experience

Illustration: are you creating feel effort or do effort for your customers? | Improve customer experience with Tethr conversation intelligence

While other voice of customer analytics tools can help scale your existing call analysis, Tethr dives deeper. The platform makes it incredibly easy to narrow in on what — and even who — needs support and why in your organization so you can optimize your customer journey and work to improve the customer experience. Let's talk more about the 'what.'

Tethr's customer effort metrics, like 'frustration,' 'confusion,' 'missed expectations,' 'repeat contacts,' 'channel switching,' 'chronic effort,' to name a few, are reportable in Tethr and incredibly valuable. Still, you can refine them more deeply to understand why effort is driving them.

We do that by breaking effort down into two buckets: 'feel' effort and 'do' effort:

  • ‘Feel’ effort - your customer is telling you how they feel about something causing them effort.
  • ‘Do’ effort - your customer is conveying frustration that they have to take action.

The difference? Well, we base one bucket on what we term 'feel' effort ("I'm losing patience from being placed on hold three times!"), and the other bucket on what we call 'do' effort ("I don't understand, but I've tried to do x online multiple times, and it won't work, so I called.").

Identify business process effort drivers on a dashboard from your VoC data | Tethr conversation intelligence

The top reasons for customer 'frustration' or 'confusion', for example, can be very different from the top reasons for your customer's 'repeat contacts' or 'channel switching.' To help visualize this, imagine your company has a smart IVR (interactive voice response) system that's operating from a limited customer data set. Note that common factors we see limiting the customer data include a low quantity of customer feedback (for example, all you've got is an average CSAT score and average interaction score from a small percentage of survey responses). Additionally, companies who've not identified any specific call focal points nor call drivers from their VoC data.

No clear direction for this smart IVR system means your well-meaning intention to automate it for agents and quickly route customers becomes another frustrating touchpoint that misses their needs in their overall experience.

3 steps to improve CX pain points illustration | Tethr conversation intelligence

How, then, do you improve a customer experience pain point like this? Tethr’s customer success team suggests:

  • First, focus your attention on customer effort metrics.
  • Next, identify the significant effort concepts and themes around your customers’ effort.
  • Break those themes down into 'feel' effort and 'do' effort to really study the nuances and find the differences between them
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3 steps to improve customer experience pain points


1. Focus on customer effort metrics

2. Identify major customer effort theme

3. Break those concepts down into ‘feel’ effort and ‘do’ effort


1. Improve first contact resolution

2. Repeat contacts, transfers, chronic effort, missed expectations

3. ‘Do’ effort: Repeat contacts and transfers
‘Feel’ effort: chronic effort, missed expectations

You are now fully-equipped to report on the what and why of your customers’ behavior and complaints. So, you can turn customer experience upset, and potentially customer churn, into actionable insight that breeds retention and builds loyalty.

What does an actionable insight look like? Well, it looks like bringing your VoC learnings full-circle by retraining the IVR and chatbot to reduce both 'feel' and 'do' effort for your customer. Your next steps will be to automate these processes and support customer self-service as much as possible.

4. Reports help you coach agent behavior and move key behavioral metrics

Our customer success team has learned from more than 75 years of our combined experience working with small, medium and enterprise organizations that, in the beginning, our customers typically don’t believe they can make behavioral change happen in their organization. Maybe that’s how you’ve felt before too. But we’re here to let you know that isn’t true. Here’s why:

“Employees typically don’t believe they can make behavioral change happen in their organization — no matter its size.”

We understand that the natural outcome of having no visibility into behavioral drivers of effort in your organization can render any business powerless to improve its customer experience. Tethr's conversation intelligence empowers companies to move behavioral metrics with easy, coachable reporting.

Tethr's agent or sales rep coaching dashboard empowers behavior change and accountability | Tethr conversation intelligence

While previously you may have only had access to the effect, or what we call outcome metrics (like, which effort drivers upset customers or cause transfers and redirects), now you can see both the behavioral cause and its effect. The outcome metric empowers employees and organizations to mitigate the issue so they can manage toward that metric. So, you have the power now to A/B test anything and everything to correlate causal patterns and relationships. And, once your employees take hold of that power and show that they can change behavior and generate revenue for your organization, the only thing you'll have left to do is use it.

Ask for the sale language leads to increased sales | Tethr conversation intelligence

It's natural for our customers to feel a little intimidated by the power of Tethr's conversation intelligence toolset and its ability to help them understand causality throughout the customers' journey. As one of our customers, the nation's largest lawn care company, found out when their customer success manager helped them take a more in-depth look at their sales pitches. Here's how we did it.

Four steps to change behavior in your organization using causality


1. Identify your focal points and goals, tying ROI to it to fully-engage your CX leadership

2. Define what accountability looks like within the team or organization for both sales reps, agents and managers, directors

3. A/B test

4. Find causal relationships


1. Generate revenue

2. Build dashboards for management at all levels

3. Do sales pitch/sales save offer A/B testing to determine which pitch or offer leads to a stronger conversion rate

4. With fully-measured and analyzed behaviors, choose the most effective process for delivering the right sales pitch or save offer to your customer.

Then, leverage conditional category relationships in Tethr to manage whether your agents or sales reps are following the winning process.

First, we helped them identify their sales pitch goals, then identifying focal points and metrics to track based on those. Next, we helped them structure how their entire sales group would be held accountable to those metrics and goals. We then helped them use causality and A/B testing tactics to track sales behavior. Within the week, our customer went from 20% of agents pitching to reaching their 80% sales pitch goal.

5. Use VoC insights to unravel business process inefficiencies in the customer journey

Business-driven process inefficiencies by effort | Zero in on what to optimize in your customer experience dashboards | Tethr conversation intelligence

The last way to improve your customer experience with Tethr focuses on understanding the upstream and downstream business process inefficiencies in your customer journey. These sorts of business process inefficiencies can originate within a single team, or department, in your organization, or on a single channel (digital). But like any good ecosystem, what happens in one place can have effects that ripple out to many others. Let's take a look at ways ripple-effects can happen in your experience:

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Let's say your marketing team sent a promotional email campaign with the incorrect promo code (which your business can no longer honor). What started in the marketing department with a single customer communication can have a knock-on effect on your customer care team, who are fielding an influx of customer complaints about the offer. Customer 'feel' effort, in the form of 'confusion,' 'frustration' and 'uncertainty' and potential existing customer churn then ensue.

Graph and voice of customer illustration | Pain from the voice of your customers can help you unravel business process inefficiencies in the customer journey | Improve cx with Tethr conversation intelligence

Our customer success team approaches these kinds of customer complaint scenarios all the time, using Tethr to evaluate customer effect ('feel' effort of 'confusion' and 'frustration' with potential 'churn') and remedy its cause (incorrect email promo). Tethr's causal analysis allows you to identify impacts and improve customer experience damage control within hours, not days, getting clear on the steps needed to change the behavior. In this case, what was required was to define appropriate measures to handle customer call volume and modify the call center agent's communications with the customer.

The insights that matter and the actions that make a difference in the customer journey

Throughout this article, we've been discussing both voice of customer insight and actionable insight. How does turning one into the other make the difference when it comes time to improve your customer experience?

In the past, there was no visibility into a customer interaction's transcript. And especially at the individual utterance level, there was no way to see both behaviors and their impacts. But with conversation intelligence tools like Tethr, you now have insights you can act on.

Actionable effort insight from positive language dashboard in Tethr to improve the customer experience | Conversation intelligence improves CX

First, understand the behaviors that make the most meaningful impact on your customer experience (insight). Secondarily, infuse these into contact center coaching models, as one example, making them practical tools to move the needle to improve the customer experience (actionable insight). And when we say "move the needle," we literally mean visually watching the needle move on each focal point in Tethr because your business has visibility into 100% of customer interactions.

  • The insight is knowing which sales pitch matters.
  • The actionable insight will mean talking to your sales and service agents, supervisors and senior leadership with reporting and dashboards virtually in-hand. You'll need to tell a data-driven story about your VoC starting with existing baselines. Next, you'll want to set goals and work hand-in-hand with your leadership to focus on a clear set of focal points tied to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tied to how you'll measure behaviors. Create transparency in the organization by giving your team of agents a cheat sheet on how to change behavior — pulling the needle all the way through.
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Tethr's pre-baked Effort and Call driver dashboards detail particular focal points and KPIs that are important to improve the customer experience, including things like customer retention, sales effectiveness, upselling, rebutting objections and save effectiveness. So, let's break it down to understand how we get from a raw voice of customer interaction, whether that's a call or chat, to an actionable insight with our customers. Our customer success team has this process down pat.

4-step process illustration | How Tethr turns insight into actionable insight in your CX improve the customer experience | Tethr conversation intelligence

How we turn insight into actionable insight

The questions you should be asking yourself.


What is the goal you want to achieve?


Which insight do you want to focus on to achieve that goal?


What VoC data, or insight, do you have that can begin to tell the story of your focal point?


What tangible steps can you take with your team?

What is the specific, actionable and traceable goal in Tethr?

Who is responsible and who should be accountable or informed?

The questions you should be asking yourself about how to improve customer experience, now applied to a business use case.


I want to improve my customer experience


Positive response to customer frustration


What’s the % of inbound calls where agents don’t respond positively after the customer shows frustration?


Site leadership coach agents weekly to use acknowledgment and advocacy as a response to customer frustration.

Goal: to decrease XX% to XX%

Report results to:
Inform: Executive Leadership
Accountable: Marketing and CX directors, supervisors
Responsible: Marketing and CX agents

And to empower everyone in the organization to commit to improve the customer experience, at Tethr, we suggest you follow the three pillars of execution: responsibility, accountability, authority.

  1. You empower everyone to take responsibility for what’s not working in the CX. And be specific, what should your agents do? When? How will they be measured?
  2. You make the entire team accountable by providing reporting and dashboards at each level of the team, tracking to both their baselines and goals and tracing their outcomes as they go.
  3. You give it authority by making it matter to the business as a whole. ROI calculation can clearly show the cost savings or revenue-generating potential of the action you’re seeking. Use data that shows the impacts of business decisions and focal points that help your senior management deliver on specific KPIs in your business.

And now it’s your turn to try Tethr

So, now you know how Tethr's own customer success team helps companies improve the customer experience by infusing effortlessness into the experience across every touchpoint in the customer's journey. But, Tethr's actionable insights come straight out of the box and don't stop in the contact center with the supervisor and the agent or in the sales org.

How we use our voice of customer analytics and conversation intelligence platform to improve the customer experience for our customers' customers carries through to how they interact with your service, product, and literally every team in your enterprise.

Learn more about how Tethr’s conversation intelligence can give you the what, the why and the how of how to improve the customer experience across product teams, sales and marketing, compliance teams, finance and engineering by scheduling a free demo.

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