Leveraging Conversational AI to Help Humans Understand Humans

Demands for personalized customer experiences have companies feeling pressure to adopt more customer-centric approaches. And customer service agents are under more scrutiny than ever, with more than 65 percent of people having higher expectations for good CX delivery.

However, these customer service interactions are bidirectional, with employees playing a critical part in the CX equation. Artificial intelligence-driven recordings and speech analytics offer valuable tools that determine the emotion and intent behind words, capture sentiment, and inform training needs by employing advanced acoustic algorithms to identify, measure, and evaluate speakers' voice pace, pitch, tone, volume and other factors.>

This sophisticated technology listens to the employee side of CX interactions, generating insights to offer employee support and training and helping leaders understand and connect with the needs of their organizations patients and their communities.

Healthcare organizations can effectively leverage AI-driven recording and speech analytics to create customer-centric experiences, reduce stress among customer service teams, and increase employee well-being.

While most customers generally prefer self-service (if it works), when they face a situation they don't understand or have questions they can't answer, they turn to the best-equipped humans to help them find what they need.

Enter call center agents—invaluable in the healthcare industry, where many patients have found themselves unable to effectively navigate among providers, insurance companies, and pharmacies for years. Prior to 2020, the healthcare industry had begun embracing digital transformation as it implemented digital solutions hoping to build more positive, convenient customer-centric solutions.

But customer-centricity is only partly about meeting customer needs and expectations. Its other essential ingredient encompasses training and equipping employees to succeed and feel empowered to support their customers via tools and processes to enable a customer-first mentality.

And never before has that ingredient been more critical. Since 2020, the healthcare industry has experienced an explosion in burnout across all employees, including call center agents. They're often speaking to patients who share weighty topics, such as financial hardship, death, job loss, that can strain the agents' mental health. They might find themselves handling more negative interactions, raised voices, and profanity directed toward them.

Yet just as these healthcare workers are among our first line of defense keeping us healthy, it's important for healthcare leaders to find a balance between performance goals and the support their employees need to reduce absenteeism, attrition, burnout, lower engagement, and poor customer service delivery.

One way to identify their challenges and find solutions to alleviating the stressors that cause burnout is intentional listening. This strategy, which incorporates speech analytics, empowers healthcare organizations to support call center agents and enhance CX. It can enable the following:

  • Open dialogues around employees' obstacles. It isn't only patients who get stuck; so do the agents helping them. Knowing where those sticking points occur helps managers identify and address employee stress.
  • Identify needs to prioritize. Even on a good day, work environments can feel chaotic and unsettled. Listening to employee voices offers a granular view of where the organization might benefit from additional messaging, tweaked call scripts, or adjusted procedures so employees can continue offering exceptional CX.
  • Gain deeper insight into what's happening on the ground. Leaders are often big-picture thinkers, but they might miss what's affecting those on the front lines. Using keywords and phrases to create audio montages zooms in on employee as well as customer challenges.
  • Uncover coaching opportunities. Listening with intention also finds areas of improvement and unearths opportunities to provide additional training, coaching, feedback, support, and encouragement.

Conversational data offers a clear and concrete way for listening to patients and uncovering pain points encountered along their healthcare journeys. It's another strategy for developing a customer-centric approach.

Conversational intelligence also supports customer-centricity for employees and leadership by generating data that helps the following:

  • Understand the causes of long wait times.
  • Justify the investment in coaching and training to improve first contact resolution (FCR) and call center agent effectiveness.
  • Share wins and gratitude for the difference employees make in each others' and patients' lives.
  • Provide respite and mental healthcare for employees.

AI-driven speech analytics helps healthcare organizations achieve these goals and helps call center teams cope with the added pressure of higher patient expectations by generating insights from the data it gathers.<

Shifting toward customer-centricity requires several actions, including the following:

  • Listen to and read transcripts of interactions to gain a holistic perspective and identify specific patient and employee challenges.
  • Incorporate AI automation via listening technology (and add human capital) to monitor conversations on a larger scale to identify emerging feedback, themes, and trends.
  • Leverage data storytelling by presenting data in a compelling way, balancing head and heart stories to influence change.
  • Highlight individual and team contributions, motivate employees, and build patient connections.

Listening Still Matters

Customer centricity goes beyond implementing new tech. It requires a culture change within organizations and empowered employees well-equipped to serve their patients. Speech analytics ensures healthcare leaders hear the voices of not just their customers but their employees, too.

Yes, it's essential to listen to the voice of the customer. But it's also important to listen to employees because only then can organizations identify the challenges causing employee burnout, develop solutions, and implement systematic changes to improve the employee experience.

Leslie Pagel is chief evangelist of Authenticx,a conversation analytics company dedicated to improving the way healthcare companies engage with patients.