Customer Communication Let Your Context Be Your Guide

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You’ve just recovered from a bout with pneumonia and your best friend comes by for a visit. Ignoring your puffy eyes and exhausted demeanor, she says, “Let’s go for a run!”

“That’s contextually wrong,” Tara Kelly, president and CEO of Calgary, Alberta-based SPLICE Software told CMSWire. “It emotionally disengages you from that person.”

Kelly gave us this example during an interview that touched on the importance of context in customer interactions, and the need to incorporate the human voice into your marketing mix to enhance the customer experience.

“Whether customer communication is automated, written or with a live agent, you want to ensure it’s contextually accurate,” she said.

So Many Channels, So Many Choices

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CMSWire recently reported on a workplace communication study which found that 82 percent of workers prefer to receive voicemails as text messages.

Kelly, whose company provides audio messaging services integrated with CRM data and featuring real human voices, agreed that although text is more convenient, it’s not always the best choice, and there are challenges.

“Sure, it’s simple, easier and takes less of your time,” she said. “But if you really want to understand something, you pick up the phone.”

This concurs with findings from a 2014 study by ResponseTap, which cited that almost two thirds of people surveyed stated that telephone is their first choice when seeking help.

“There are so many subtle indicators we get from tone and inflection,” said Kelly. “The meaning of a word is so different based on nuances. With text, you’re losing over 50 percent of communication that is available.”

She went on to add that, due to this loss of communication, people end up wasting a lot of time sending multiple messages to clarify meaning.

“We’re trying to make our lives go as quickly as possible,” said Kelly. “But by doing quick, disrupted, overly multiple communications, we have to come back for clarity so many times, it’s not efficient.”

The answer?

“You need to know when it’s appropriate to have audio or text,” advised Kelly. “The channels are not supposed to crush one another, but it’s important to find the optimal, contextual time to use each one.”

Importance of Context in Audio

If you’ve ever called your bank or credit institution to check your balance, you’ve probably come across a robotic attendant mechanically spitting out your information — an annoying and impersonal interaction.

SPLICE Software provides companies with human voice solutions and interactive messaging that removes the robot from the equation, and, as with choosing the right communication channel, Kelly said it all boils down to context.

“Previously, companies used computer-synthesized voices, and later they recorded individual words,” she said. “But these words had no context. You can’t add sentiment to a message with one word.”

SPLICE seeks to solve this problem by instead, relying on recorded phrases. The company uses voice talent to record phrases in a variety of different sentiments and tones, which are then stored in the cloud.

When a customer calls, or if the company wants to send a recorded message to a customer, the software pulls data from a company’s CRM and strings phrases from its library together based on that data to create the appropriate audio. If a phrase is not available, the system inserts a generic phrase in its place.

The result? A personalized message that sounds like it was created especially for that customer.

Kelly said the company has seen “shocking” results from its approach, traditionally getting anywhere from 50 percent to 400 percent better response rates than competitors.

“If you create an emotional connection, you can more than double the results every time, because human beings are emotional creatures,” she said.

“We’ve gotten away from what it is to be people,” concluded Kelly. “At the end of the day, people make decisions on a blend of logic and emotion, and we do need to appeal to them on both levels.”

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by Rookuzz.