Why Companies Will Value Customer Conversations More in 2024

min read
Why Companies Will Value Customer Conversations More in 2024

Scientists believe the first conversation took place around 70,000 years ago, when early tribespeople began to form alliances. The art of conversation has evolved a bit since then — you’d be hard-pressed to find a Cro Magnon saying “sus,” “big yikes,” or “yeet” while grilling a sabertooth. But at their core, conversations remain the same — they’re an essential tool for communication and relationship building.  

Conversations help us exchange information and better understand the world around us. They’re central to how we build trust. But in recent years, it feels like conversations have been devalued by some businesses. Reaching the contact center is too often a Kafkaesque nightmare. You’re subjected to an endless purgatory of hold music, long wait times, messages about long wait times, and transfers. You may find yourself wondering, “Does this business even care what I have to say?”

The good news is that the tide is turning. Consumers are taking the power back — if a business doesn’t make them feel valued, they switch to a competitor. This has left many companies scrambling to improve customer conversations and learn from them. 

In this blog, we’ll share new research about the value of customer conversations. We’ll also dive into how businesses are using conversation intelligence technology to improve the quality of phone conversations — and build brand loyalty as a result.

To Retain Customers, Businesses Need to Provide Seamless Experiences

In today’s hyper-connected economy, you can’t rely on brand loyalty to retain customers. It has never been easier for customers to switch to one of your competitors — all they have to do is click a button or pick up the phone. This is why 61% of customers stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad experience. 

To earn customer loyalty in today’s business landscape, you have to prove to your customers that you value them, day in and day out, in every interaction. What’s the best way to accomplish this? By providing seamless experiences that save your customers time and headaches. When you deliver personalized brand interactions, you make your customers feel acknowledged, valued, and eager to do business with you.  

The Phone Call Is a Critical Piece of the Customer Journey

Today’s buying journey isn’t a linear process — consumers often engage through several different channels and devices as they move through the sales funnel. For example, let’s say you want to buy a new car. You start by searching for cars in your budget on your smartphone and you find the Toyota Rav-4. Later, you visit Toyota’s website on your desktop and look at its features and pricing. A few days later, you receive an ad on social media with a financing offer for the Rav-4. You then call to schedule the test drive and get additional inventory information. Finally, once you’re at the lot and you’ve test-driven the car, you make a purchase.

Pinballing between touchpoints like this is very common — in fact, a Google study found that a purchase as simple as a candy bar often takes upwards of 20 brand touchpoints to complete. Meanwhile, complex purchases like cars can take up to 500 touchpoints! 

There is one touchpoint in particular that can make or break the buying process — a phone call. In our recent study, 60% of consumers said phone calls are their preferred method to communicate with a business. In this interaction, the customer is literally telling you what they want and how to make them happy. It’s a moment of truth for your brand — if you quickly meet their needs and make them feel valued, you’ll win their business. But if you put them on hold, transfer them excessively, and make them repeat themselves, you may lose them forever. 

The more expensive or complex the purchase is, the more important a phone call is in the buying journey. In our study, 87% of respondents said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making high-consideration purchases, versus purchasing directly online. 

But Many Businesses Are Failing to Deliver Seamless Call Experiences

Despite the important role calls play in the customer journey, many businesses are fumbling the ball. This is often because of the outdated philosophy that contact centers are cost centers and the goal should be to run them as cheaply as possible. This philosophy is pervasive and has caused a lot of consumers to assume that, if they pick up the phone, they’re going to have a bad time. In our recent study, we found that customers across industries avoided calling businesses because they anticipated long wait times and excessive transfers. See the chart below for the full breakdown. 

But the truth is, phone calls are not a cost for your business to bear — they’re an opportunity to acquire customers, increase retention, and build brand loyalty for the long run. The brands who recognize this and make the effort to improve customer conversations will have the most success in the coming years.

How Marketers Take a Data-Driven Approach to Phone Calls with Conversation Intelligence

You likely track the online experience so you can understand how you move customers through the sales funnel and drive conversions. But are you taking this same data-driven approach to phone calls? Or are you just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best?

To improve the call experience and deliver better customer conversations, marketers are using conversation intelligence solutions. Conversation intelligence uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze speech in order to capture first-party data from conversations between the call center, business locations, and customers. You can use these insights to create call experiences that convert more of the valuable leads you drive.  

Here are some of the ways marketers are using conversational intelligence to improve and learn from customer conversations:

  • Track the quality of calls digital ads drive and optimize media budget accordingly
  • Get full visibility into eCommerce buying flows and make the right changes to improve them
  • Understand common questions and hesitations buyers have and address them on web pages to improve conversion rates
  • Use first-party data from phone conversations to personalize website experiences and retarget customers with relevant ads
  • Use intelligent call routing to automatically send callers to the agent or business location best suited to handle their needs 

How Sales Teams Use Conversation Intelligence to Increase Close Rates

Most sales managers already know that great conversations are critical to securing sales. But sales teams face a different set of challenges — how can you ensure that your agents and business locations are consistently meeting brand standards for customer conversations? And how can you scale your coaching efforts to ensure that they’re all performing at their highest potential?

To meet these challenges, revenue teams use conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca. Below are some of the ways sales teams use it to improve customer conversations and increase close rates:

  • Use artificial intelligence to automate quality assurance and score every single call based on custom criteria
  • Give agents access to their automated scorecards in real time, allowing them to self-coach and adjust their approach 
  • View call recordings and transcriptions and leave in-platform feedback for agents 
  • Enable agents to tailor each conversation with real-time screen pops that reveal caller intent based on the webpage they called from, pre-call search keywords, and more
  • Use Lost Sales Recovery to get a list of missed calls, sorted by which were most likely to be high-value leads and require immediate follow-ups

7 Tips for Having Better Conversations with Your Customers

The human voice remains a powerful tool for building relationships and fostering customer loyalty, so phone calls need to be efficient and engaging. Here are 7 tips to turn your phone conversations from transactional to truly transformative:

1. Be Present and Enthusiastic

A warm greeting and an enthusiastic tone set the stage for a positive interaction. Put a smile in your voice and actively listen to the customer's concerns. This simple effort can instantly put them at ease and create a connection.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Don't let the conversation become a script recitation. Ask open-ended questions like "What can I help you with today?" or "Can you tell me more about what you're experiencing?". This encourages the customer to elaborate, providing valuable insights into their needs and frustrations.

3. Actively Listen and Respond

Pay close attention to the customer's words and tone. Acknowledge their concerns and emotions with phrases like "I understand your frustration" or "That sounds challenging." Paraphrase key points to confirm your understanding and show you're engaged.

4. Personalize the Conversation

Take your conversations to the next level with personalization. Invoca PreSense can be a game-changer here. This innovative tool provides agents with real-time information about the caller's digital journey before they even pick up the phone. Imagine knowing the customer just browsed a specific product page or had a certain item in their shopping cart. You can use this knowledge to personalize your greeting, address their specific interest, and build a deeper connection.

5. Focus on Solutions, Not Just Problems

While acknowledging the problem is important, quickly shift the focus towards solutions. Explain options clearly and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. Offering a few alternative solutions demonstrates your understanding and empowers the customer to choose the best fit.

6. Use Positive Language

Focus on positive and empowering language. Instead of "We can't do that," try "Let's explore some alternative options." Phrasing things positively creates a more collaborative atmosphere and increases customer satisfaction.

7. Express Gratitude and End on a High Note

Thank the customer for their time and emphasize your commitment to their satisfaction. End by offering additional support and letting them know how you can be reached if they have further questions.

3 Tactics for Handling Difficult Customer Conversations

Even the most seasoned customer service rep can encounter an upset caller. Here are 3 battle-tested tips to navigate those tricky phone conversations and turn frustration into resolution:

1. Stay Calm and Be the Voice of Reason

Every seasoned customer service rep has encountered the dreaded upset caller and it's easy to get flustered when someone's yelling on the other end of the line. Take a deep breath and remember, you're the one with the power to de-escalate. Speak in a slow, calm, and professional tone. Acknowledge their frustration with phrases like, "I understand you're upset, and I want to help." This shows empathy and establishes you as a calming presence. Sometimes just listening and acknowledging their feelings can go a long way in diffusing tension and paving the way for a productive conversation.

2. Actively Listen and Validate Their Feelings

Don't interrupt — let them vent their frustrations. Active listening means paying close attention to their words and emotions, not just waiting for your turn to speak. Summarize their concerns and validate their feelings with statements like, "It sounds like you've been having a rough experience, and I apologize for the inconvenience." Validating their emotions shows you're engaged and invested in resolving their issue. Letting them vent their frustrations can be a release, and acknowledging their feelings shows you're truly committed to working together for a solution.

3. Focus on Solutions and Offer Options

Once they've had their say, shift the focus towards solutions. Don't wait for them to prompt you — take the initiative by outlining potential solutions or next steps! Explain options clearly and concisely, ensuring they understand the implications of each. Be prepared to answer questions in a knowledgeable and helpful manner. If you can't offer an immediate solution, offer to investigate further or connect them with someone who can. The key here is to be proactive and demonstrate a genuine desire to find a resolution. This proactive approach shows you're taking ownership of the situation and genuinely care about getting them the help they need.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can have better conversations with your customers? Check out these resources:

Want to see Invoca in action? Request your personalized demo.

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