Customer care: when does a call become too personal?

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Ask many people what they want from a contact centre, and they will tell you that they crave more personal service – and while it might not be practical in business terms to give everyone a named advisor, you can coach your contact centre staff on how to handle enquiries in a friendly and positive way.

But there will always be instances of where this goes wrong, especially if many of your calls are complaints, or if you cold-call marketing prospects who might not appreciate being disturbed.

You can shrug off a lot of the annoyance you receive from the other end of the telephone line, but there’s a limit – and you need to be aware of when your operators have gone too far.

This is where speech analytics software can be useful, as it is able to red-flag calls that contain certain unwanted words or phrases, or those whose speech patterns indicate an unacceptably emotionally charged discussion between your operator and the call recipient.

Speech analytics software does this by monitoring all calls, 24/7, and comparing the recordings against set criteria, allowing it to pick out words and phrases using voice recognition technology, and emotionally charged moments using frequency analysis to look for signals of stress.

Calls that trigger any of these warning signs can be red-flagged for further investigation – and all calls can be scored against your criteria and ranked according to their score, so examples of best and worst practice can be singled out for training purposes.

So what are you looking for when you set up your call criteria? Well, there are a few lines that you might not want your call operators to cross, for various reasons.

Look out for any overly heated debate – or arguing, as it’s more commonly called – as this is unprofessional and unlikely to help you get anywhere.

Monitor any specific words that fall outside of your tone of voice guidelines (e.g. you might be happy to offer ‘value for money’, but might not want your company to be described as ‘cheap’) or that are unacceptable for regulatory reasons.

You might even want to check for any instances of operators apologising, as this could make you legally liable for things that are arguably not your fault.

Finally, be careful about mentioning competitors by name – you never know who is on the other end of the line, and bad-mouthing rivals to try to win business can land you in court very quickly indeed.

Speech analytics software automates all of this monitoring, and can perform it on every moment of every call, something that would be all but impossible to do manually; so however professional your staff might be, you know you are prepared for when things get personal.