Using conversation intelligence to improve digital customer service

Victoria Beverly

November 29, 2023

Social media, websites, chatbots, text messages, emails–the monumental shift towards digital-first customer service is now. Companies have recognized the advantages of prioritizing digital customer service interactions over traditional phone calls or in-person customer service. The data is in, and the verdict is clear: digital service is here to stay.

Why is it happening, and what benefits can conversation intelligence provide to call center leaders and their teams during this new era of digital customer service? Below, we expand on three reasons companies are making the move in the first place–and how conversation intelligence platforms help maintain service quality and strengthen customer loyalty.

3 reasons businesses are embracing digital customer service

An increased need for cost-efficiency

One of the primary reasons companies are migrating to digital customer service–and self-service channels in particular–is its cost efficiency. According to Gartner’s research, live channels such as phone, live chat, and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, whereas self-service channels like company-run websites or mobile apps cost about $0.10 per contact.  While self-service channels are the least expensive, live digital channels such as chat are typically less expensive than voice because agents can handle multiple conversations or tickets simultaneously. 

Since self-service options and other digital channels are more cost-efficient than voice, businesses must make these channels as low-effort as possible and encourage customers to use them. Conversation intelligence software can help businesses uncover new ways to improve their digital service experiences. 

Conversation intelligence uses machine learning to analyze the text in digital customer interactions and identify key areas of journey friction, sentiment, and product feedback. This helps contact center and business leaders discover how they can reduce the burden on the call center. For example, a conversation intelligence platform might reveal a high volume of calls in which customers ask to change their payment date. Knowing that this is a frequent issue, the contact center might publish a step-by-step knowledge base article explaining to customers how they can change their payment date online. This could deflect calls on this topic and give customers an easier way to resolve their issues. 

Keeping customer satisfaction high and effort low

Low-effort experiences and loyalty are at the heart of businesses’ shift to digital channels. Seven out of ten businesses say consumer expectations for effectively engaging with businesses digitally have increased more than 10% from the prior year. 

Tethr's research indicates that digital interactions require significantly less effort, translating into easier, more enjoyable customer experiences.  Our research also shows voice conversations are over twice as likely to be perceived as difficult compared to chat interactions.  Often, customers turn to digital alternatives like chatbots for immediate answers to common questions or problems without ever talking to a live agent. And even when customers do need to speak to a live agent, chat offers an appealing alternative to picking up the phone. Digital channels like chat allow agents time to research and provide accurate information, contributing to improvements in both performance metrics and customer satisfaction.

Gathering additional customer data points across every channel

With the need to keep customer satisfaction high, business leaders are using conversation intelligence to gather customer sentiment data from digital interactions. 

Businesses now are tasked with uncovering the “sweet spot” between balancing human-driven digital interactions and digital self-service for their customer service. Regardless of whether it’s a human-driven interaction via digital channels, or self-service via AI, these two methods of customer service have a vast amount of potential to provide insights into how customers feel about the company or business—whether or not they fill out a survey.  In a 2024 Consumer Trends Report by Qualtrics, Qualtrics’ Principal XM Scientist Leonie Brown states, “Even when customers don’t give feedback, they are talking to you in other ways—by spending less, visiting less frequently, and stopping mentioning you. The question is, are you tuned into those cues?” Conversation intelligence not only helps business leaders identify those cues across all channels but also provides businesses with the opportunity to take action on those cues to retain customers who offer limited to no feedback on their digital customer journey. 

Challenges for digital customer service

Identifying and stopping digital fraud

The shift towards digital customer service–while offering unparalleled convenience and efficiency to customers–has simultaneously ushered in new challenges and threats for contact center leaders. Digital channels provide an easy target for cybercriminals seeking to access sensitive customer data and financial transactions. As businesses increasingly rely on digital channels and platforms to interact with customers, the potential for fraudulent activities such as phishing, identity theft, and account hacking has risen substantially. 

Conversation intelligence aids business leaders and call center teams in the fight against fraud. It enables businesses and their fraud or contact center leaders to not only detect deceptive practices but also proactively prevent fraud through the analysis of different types of interactions.  For example, consumer goods company Thrasio built a fraud report in Tethr that flags messages that might have previously bypassed a generic fraud filter. When it gets a new fraud hit, Tethr automatically triggers an email to relevant team members to ensure they respond to the issue immediately. 

Without conversation intelligence, the expansive nature of the digital world creates an environment where malicious actors can employ sophisticated tactics and bypass simplistic fraud detection. This makes it imperative for companies to fortify their cybersecurity measures to safeguard both their assets and the trust of their customers.

Keeping up with customer expectations: An omnichannel experience

Customers now expect an omnichannel service journey with the companies they buy from. Research by Zendesk shows that 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless customer experience. To meet these expectations, businesses must provide a cohesive and interconnected experience across online and offline touchpoints. 

Conversation intelligence plays a pivotal role in minimizing journey friction during these omnichannel experiences. By leveraging analytics and machine learning, conversation intelligence platforms can synthesize data from different customer service channels, offering valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and pain points. This comprehensive approach enables companies to tailor their services more effectively, anticipate customer needs, and proactively address issues, ultimately perfecting the overall omnichannel journey and fostering stronger customer relationships.

Conclusion

As the digital-first customer journey continues to redefine customer service, conversation intelligence emerges as a critical tool for contact center leaders. Conversation intelligence platforms not only streamline operations and reduce costs but also empower businesses to deliver a more effortless and enjoyable customer experience. 

As companies embrace the digital evolution, integrating conversation intelligence ensures operational efficiency and the ability to proactively meet customer needs, cultivate loyalty, and fortify cybersecurity measures. Conversation intelligence is not just an asset; it's a necessary tool for thriving in the digital-first era of customer service.

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