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Why Tone AI is the most powerful tool in customer experience

At Fortune 500 companies, customer service is now the fourth most popular core value. McKinsey’s 2022 State of Customer Care Survey recently found that customer care is now a strategic focus for most companies. CX has shifted from a cost center to a core differentiator and potential profit center, capturing greater wallet share and increasing customer lifetime value.

At its core, great CX is about solving problems fast, effectively, and leaving a positive association with a customer. Cloud and AI solutions like Chatbots and IVRs introduce new ways of solving problems quickly and with minimized resource. However, customers are humans who want to feel connected via voice since it’s able to drive both empathy and efficiency in real time. Moreover, a recent Qualtrics report showed that 60% of consumers prefer a phone call for difficult queries, often bypassing self-service channels to reach a real person.

The question for contact centers then becomes: how do we get the most out of voice to drive great CX? At its best, an advisor’s voice signals competence, empathy and engagement. But, to achieve this, advisors must use both their words and tone to positively shape the customer’s impression of the interaction, and ultimately of the company, product, or service.

We are seeing a new focus on speech analytics to analyze call quality. But despite speech-to-text software being effective at translating what is being said in a call, it’s still not as efficient in capturing how it’s being said, which can be more indicative of the true nature of the call. In fact, scientific research points to tone in voice as being the most powerful predictor of emotion. To measure whether you’re delivering great CX, it’s crucial to understand customer sentiment and how advisors come across to customers from an emotional perspective. 

A new class of AI tools are emerging which analyze tone to decode the rich emotional signals hidden in the human voice. This can bring advisors and their customers closer together by measuring customer sentiment. It also enables real-time feedback to advisors on both customer sentiment and their own tone. Is the agent or customer happy and coming across with a friendly, energetic voice? Or do they sound bland and disinterested? Are they speaking too slowly or monotonously? Getting this feedback in real-time enables for quick praise when all is well, or for course correction when things get tense. It also helps agents predict customer needs and adapt their conversation to improve FCR and CX.

Voice will continue to remain in demand. In that same McKinsey survey, 61% of surveyed leaders reported increased contacts per customer and a growing customer base as the key drivers. Moreso, 58% of leaders anticipate call volumes to increase over the next 18 months. As a result, 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in greater AI capabilities. Deployed correctly, tone AI will engage advisors to deliver the best CX, facilitate shorter calls, and boost overall ROI, creating high-quality human connections.