The average human being can speak up to 150 words per minute but only type 40. Little wonder why it’s often far easier to verbally ask a question than type it into a search engine. And it’s why speech recognition technology is an area both consumer and enterprise technology companies are investing in.
Although speech technology emerged back in the 1950s with Bell Laboratories’ Audrey system, it wasn’t until the 2000s that it truly found its voice with the rise of digital assistants including Google Voice Search, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa.
Aside from the convenience factor for consumers, speech technology can play a vital role for marketing, sales, operations, and customer service teams in helping them make sense of verbal interactions, which, in turns, provides a more accurate, holistic view of the customer journey.
Indeed, the resulting analytics can offer meaningful clues about how to deliver the best possible customer experience. For example, not only can businesses now understand what happens on every phone call–how long it took a sales rep to pick up, whether a customer dropped off from being on hold too long, or whether the customer service agent didn’t course-correct a negative conversation–but all that data is surfaced in a way that makes it easy to derive actionable insights that extend far beyond the actual call.
Marketers, for instance, can use those insights to identify best practices for training sales and customer service teams, resulting in new customer wins, increased retention of current customers, and, ultimately, increased revenue through better sales performance. In doing so, they also optimize their marketing and media spend.
Other benefits include the ability to:
• Identify and analyze high-intent callers: Speech-powered analytics technology can help marketers identify callers who are most likely to convert into customers (hot leads). Marketers also can see which campaigns are driving high-intent leads so they can consider putting more budget behind them. With these insights, marketers can optimize further down the sales funnel by looking at when and where high-intent leads are calling so they can then make sure their call centers and stores are prepared with adequate staffing and other operational needs.
• Retarget lost opportunities: Analyzing calls that didn’t convert is just as important as analyzing the ones that do. Speech analytics technology allows marketers to look at lost leads to identify problems with the call process, such as a caller hanging up after being put on hold. Marketers can then identify those areas, tie them to a specific source, and then retarget those callers in the online world, perhaps with a special offer.
• Search transcripts to understand customer interests: Speech analytics technology can provide secure transcriptions in real time so that marketers can analyze calls beyond the numbers. Fully searchable transcripts let marketers uncover caller reactions and responses to specific scripts, offers, and conversation points. Some speech analytics tools allow marketers to set up specific dashboards based on script behavior, which helps them to uncover patterns, sentiment, and other behavior-based metrics.
Looking back on where speech recognition technology was 60 years ago, it’s hard not to marvel at how far we’ve come. But it’s equally important to acknowledge where we’re headed and the profound impact speech technology will have on the marketing industry.
One area we’ll see speech technology play a key role is in automating agent interactions. For example, speech technology can provide insight into common customer intents, such as booking an appointment, which involves a common set of inputs-- type of appointment, estimate of cost, date, time, etc. With speech recognition technology, businesses can analyze the top customer inquiries and provide marketers with chatbot solutions to automate these interactions, rather than having a live agent. They also can respond to inquiries not just during business hours but 24/7, increasing their ability to increase sales volume.
As speech technology continues to evolve and its role continues to grow, it will be more important than ever for marketers to recognize it as a vital piece of their martech stack. Speech-powered analytics technology will only continue to get smarter, and, in turn, help marketers get deeper, more detailed insights into their callers and sales.