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Angry and Bored? You Must Be a Customer

Finding out what customers really think is a crucial first step toward an improved bottom line. New technology may help.

Source: Gartner

Call-center Technologies

Getting a Read on Customers

Online surveys aren’t the only way to employ technology in the service of assessing customer attitudes. Vendors including Nice Systems, Verint Systems, and Witness Systems sell tools that monitor — sometimes in very novel ways — the interactions between call-center staff and customers. Asurion Corp., a Nashville-based enhanced-wireless-services company, for example, uses a system from Witness to “listen” to how call-center reps handle customer queries and complaints. The system uses data or screen capture to see what’s on a customer-service rep’s computer, and then uses that data to check whether the rep is properly processing the claim. “In the old days, we listened to a taped recording,” says Paul Hineman, director of financial planning and analysis at Asurion. But that method is laborious and unlikely to show all the detail needed to ensure compliance with the claim process. Nice Systems offers, among other capabilities, “emotion detection” that evaluates the overall tenor of a call, helping companies discover whether a disproportionate number of callers seem to be getting hot under the collar — a marker for impending defection if ever there was one. In short, there seems to be little about customers that companies can’t learn, if they ask the right questions and invest in the relevant technologies. “Prior to using this system,” says Hineman, “we had a 92 percent claims-resolution rate. It’s now 97 percent, a 5 percent increase that generates millions of dollars for us in annual savings.” — R.B.

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