How to Uncover Competitive Data Hidden in Your Customer Calls

min read
How to Uncover Competitive Data Hidden in Your Customer Calls

We live in a data-driven world where information is power. While becoming more data-driven isn’t an exact science, companies that invest in their data almost universally see results. Consider a 2022 survey of Fortune 1000 companies, such as Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan Chase, Meta, and the National Football League, where 97% of respondents said they were investing in data initiatives — and 92.1% reported seeing measurable results. 

The fact is, modern companies can’t operate without data insights, including from competitive data. Fortunately, technology is advancing so quickly that building a competitor analysis using first-party data is becoming a faster, easier, and frankly, better process. Artificial intelligence (AI), which includes automation, machine learning, and natural language processing, is leading the way in that respect.

Let’s look at one area where using AI in a data-driven competitor analysis strategy is remarkably easy for enterprises. (Spoiler: It’s not social media.) What’s more, data derived from this implementation holds significant value for businesses. Surprisingly, this vein of competitor data comes from an analog source: telephone calls.  

Understanding Competitive Data

Before we delve deeper into the role data from phone calls can play in everything from a competitive analysis in marketing to a competitive analysis used in a business plan, let’s look at competitive data itself in a bit more detail. What is it? Why is it so important? And why does having more data from more sources increase competitive analysis accuracy? 

What Is Competitive Data?

There isn’t a market that lacks competitors. Competitors generate data, and competitor data is the crucial element in competitor analysis. That data can be gathered from many market sources, including competitor websites, public filings, news articles, social media posts, customer reviews, and customer surveys. 

Omnichannel communication and social media have multiplied the sources of competitor data — and access to that data in real time. But perhaps the richest vein of competitive intelligence is the content from customer interactions that occur via the telephone. A recent study by Salesforce shows that digital channels and social media are increasingly used by businesses to communicate with customers, but the telephone remains the customer’s top choice for interaction. 

So, if you’re not capturing data from phone calls, you’re missing out on an important piece of your competitive data puzzle. And your competitive analysis framework will suffer for it, too. (A competitive analysis framework is a tool marketers use to compare their marketing strategy or business plan with what their competitors are doing.)

How to Find Competitive Data in Customer Conversations

How do you find competitive data in phone conversations with customers so you can use that information to conduct competitor analysis? These five steps will help set you on the right path: 

Step 1. Define Competitive Insights

First, define the specific competitive insights you’re on the lookout for. For example, perhaps your business is trying to overcome a sales issue around pricing. If so, you’ll want to zero in on how your competitors are pricing similar products in the market. Or you may want to gather competitive intelligence on their sales tactics or product features. 

Define the competitive insights you need as specifically as you can to make the next step in this process — preparing for data extraction — more efficient. 

Step 2. Prepare for Data Extraction

You’ll likely find you have more than enough data sources to mine for insights. But you want to make sure you have the right data lined up for your competitive analysis process. So, you’ll need to:

  • Select Data Sources: There are several primary data sources to consider using for competitor analysis. They may include customer call recordings and transcripts of those recordings as well as notes that customer service agents, sales reps, or others have taken during customer calls. Other primary sources include customer feedback through post-call surveys and call information stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

  • Defining Data Collection Methodologies: Once you’ve identified the data sources you want to use for your competitor analysis, you’ll want to protect the validity of the data by taking a systematic and consistent approach to gathering it. You can do this by defining the methodologies you intend to use to collect data. Some popular methods include customer surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and formal focus groups.  

Step 3. Gather Competitive Data

To uncover competitor data hidden in customer calls, you need to capture that data, of course. That means you’ll need a reliable system to record calls at scale. Even better is an AI-driven call tracking system that records and automatically transcribes calls. But there are other reasons that such a solution is valuable for supporting your competitive analysis framework — namely, it can connect you with relevant, high-quality data. So, you’ll want to:

Establish a Call Recording System

Select a call center software or dedicated call recording solution that suits your organization’s needs and integrates well with your technology stack. AI capabilities are a consideration here when investing in a call tracking solution. For example, Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence platform uses automation to record every call made to and from a business, call center, or department, giving you access to a wealth of accurate data. 

Invoca also captures every piece of data in every phone conversation, even from call center agents’ mobile devices. You can also upload outbound phone calls into the platform for analysis. So, your competitive analysis framework, and your resulting competitive analysis, benefit from access to a complete set of data — not just a random sample. More data means better outcomes from your analysis.

Use Speech-to-Text

AI automation makes it easy to deploy speech-to-text technology that accurately converts spoken language in phone calls to written text. This creates a quickly searchable record that can be accessed in real time. 

Each call transcript Invoca generates is stored in the cloud for easy 24/7 access. Importantly, Invoca’s AI also redacts sensitive information from customer conversations, such as credit card numbers.

Use Natural Language Processing (NLP) Techniques

NLP is a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on understanding and analyzing human language. By leveraging NLP techniques, marketers, sales, and anyone else in the business who needs to tap customer conversations for insights can gain a deeper understanding of a customer’s tone. This insight into the voice of the customer, including what a customer says and how they say it, enables more robust sentiment analysis.

Quickly Find Insights with Global Transcript Search

The searchability of transcripts opens the door to greater insights into customer preferences and intent, which can also help to inform your competitive analysis. Invoca’s global transcript search, for instance, allows you to search for relevant keywords across your entire library of phone call transcripts. Filtering through information is as easy as a few clicks. 

As an example: BBQGuys found Invoca’s global transcript search to be a game-changer in driving value to its business from customer feedback. Invoca’s insights helped BBQGuys quickly identify common questions its sales team was fielding from customers, which spurred the online retailer to tweak its FAQs. A review of several calls analyzed using Invoca’s search capability also revealed a minor manufacturing defect which the company was able to correct quickly. 

Step 4. Use AI to Analyze Transcripts

AI is a huge help in analyzing call transcripts. This is where AI delivers on its ability to efficiently and accurately uncover insights to inform competitive analysis in marketing by using machine learning and NLP. 

Insights gained from analyzing call transcripts can also benefit overall customer service. Customers have high expectations and want a richer customer experience. So, the more you know about a competitor, even an indirect competitor, the better able you’ll be to create a differentiated and compelling customer experience for your brand.

Invoca has some key features to help you take call transcript analysis to new levels. You can:

  • Use Signal AI Studio to Look for Important Phrases: Invoca’s conversation intelligence platform features Signal AI Studio, which automates call listening and categorizes calls in real time. Users can generate a trove of first-party data by customizing or using out-of-the-box algorithms to detect signals in conversations.

    For example, a caller may mention a “special promotion” or the “limitations” of a competitor’s product, and Signal AI Studio can flag those instances. Signal AI Studio can also stream conversation data across digital platforms such as Google Ads to help inform your ad bidding strategies or audience targeting.  

  • Use Signal Discovery to Unlock Trends from Conversations: While Signal AI Studio helps you locate data that you know you’re looking for, Invoca’s Signal Discovery is a tool that can turn up valuable data you didn’t know you needed to drive a competitive advantage. 

    Signal Discovery uses AI to identify trends across transcripts and then calls them out for you. This is helpful when you’re unaware of errors on your website, for example. If you find that many customers are calling in and asking the same question of your customer support team, it could mean that a section of your website is unclear or has erroneous information that is prompting those customers to call.

  • Implement Sentiment Analysis: A third way to analyze transcripts for useful information that can give you insight into your competitive standing is sentiment analysis. Invoca’s AI technology analyzes the tone and sentiment of customer conversations to provide unique insight based on the voice of the customer. With this capability, users can determine if the conversation is positive or negative and act on that data. The AI can be trained to highlight rival company names, giving the opportunity for competitor analysis.

Step 5. Develop a Business Strategy

The final step, once you’ve gathered and analyzed your competitive data, is to incorporate competitive analysis insights into your business plan and use that information to help shape and strengthen your overall business strategy. To that end, competitive data can be used for: 

  • Competitive Intelligence: Competitive intelligence, also known as CI, is a vital component of market intelligence. CI can be tactical (short-term) or strategic (longer-term). It can help businesses better understand where they are positioned within the competitive arena and what risks, challenges, and opportunities they face relative to their competition so that they can make more informed decisions.

  • Product Development and Innovation: Competitive analysis is invaluable for driving innovation within a business, especially in product development. Customers typically provide plenty of feedback when calling a manufacturer or retailer’s customer service center. They won’t just offer feedback on your product either, especially if they like a rival’s offering. All this data is grist for the product development mill and can lead to better, or even new, products and services — and a more satisfying customer experience.
  • Marketing Optimization: Competitive analysis can inform your data-driven marketing and media optimization strategy. Knowing more about your competition’s messaging can help you to improve and differentiate your messaging, leading to campaigns that will resonate better with your target audience and ideal customer profiles. 

Best Practices for Continuous Improvement

Uncovering competitive intelligence from phone calls and other sources and developing competitive analysis for use in a strategic management plan, business plan, marketing plan, or any other area should not be treated as a one-off assignment. Establishing a culture of continuous improvement in how you gather and use competitive data helps to ensure that any competitive analysis for your business will be comprehensive and relevant — and that the insights you derive from the process will be put to good use.

Here are three best practices to help you maintain and improve your process for gathering and using competitive data:

1. Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-functional collaboration in the marketing department and between other areas of the business like sales and product development brings diverse perspectives and expertise to the competitive analysis process. It also helps to keep everyone in the loop on business goals, and it can lead to the discovery of new data sources that should be tapped.

2. Regularly Review and Update Processes

It’s important to review, refine, and renew processes for collecting and using competitive data regularly. This will help to ensure you’re taking a consistent approach that is well-thought-out and in line with your business objectives.

3. Train your teams

Customer support or sales teams should be trained and encouraged to ask the right questions and actively listen for any mentions of competitors during customer calls. Even a simple question such as, “Who is doing what we do better than we are?” can generate valuable intelligence that the company can use to develop a business strategy or marketing plan that will help the company gain an advantage over its competitors. 

Why Use Competitive Data?

Henry Ford once described competition as the “keen cutting-edge of business.” Ford viewed market competition as a motivator for companies to cut costs and run leaner to stay in business. But monitoring your competition is about so much more than that today, where change is rapid and disruption is frequent — and often dramatic. 

Technology like AI and advanced analytics have opened the door to deep, broad, and super-fast competitive analysis that Ford could only have dreamed of. Your competitors offer a wealth of valuable data that your business can tap for crucial insights to make more informed decisions, develop more innovative strategies, differentiate its offerings, and gain leadership in a competitive market. 

So, why wouldn’t you use every tool at your disposal for competitive analysis, especially powerful ones like AI that are much easier to access, implement, and use than you might think?

Unlock the Power of Competitive Data with Invoca

One of the most robust technology tools that your company can employ to support its competitor analysis processes is Invoca’s AI-powered conversation intelligence platform. Its ability to uncover and unlock the power of competitive data contained in customer conversations by phone is just one of many use cases that the solution can provide to a business that wants to become more data-driven in its decision-making.

See How Invoca’s Voice of Customer Analytics Can Improve Your Marketing ROI

Using the power of automation, Invoca automatically tracks, records, and transcribes every phone conversation, ensuring that you never lose valuable data from customer interactions. Then, Invoca’s AI, machine learning, and NLP capabilities step in to mine every recording using algorithms that you control. You can unearth actionable data for competitive analysis that will help educate your teams, shape your marketing plans, inform your business plans, and boost your company’s competitive standing and market share.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you uncover data hidden in your customer calls? Check out these resources:

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