Businesses around the globe have to adopt, adjust and tailor their services to meet the peculiarities of their customers. Accent, is an integral part of the customization of customer experience- companies are required to consider this as a critical aspect of their customer strategy. Wikipedia conceive of accents as a linguistic variety which differs in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. In the UK alone, there are about 40 different accents that exist and with globalization surging in modern economy, it is very certain that a firm’s customer base comprises of nationals from a host of countries with a variety of accents.
A key area where this could be employed would be on the IVR and most importantly voice recognition facility on the call centre channel. A few weeks ago, I called up Sky TV to renegotiate my TV package. I dialled the number, had several options which were not exhaustive or comprehensive enough. I was then asked to say my post code, I said that once, and it requested that I should repeat it, as it seemed the voice recognition did not get it. It was a prolonged and painful experience that prompted me to consider leaving for the competition. Take a pause and Imagine for a few minutes, a very high value customer, that has a different accent to that of the default voice recognition, making a call to the call centre and they are being moved in circles because they have a variant accent to that of the default IVR voice recognition.
In 2014, the key phrase in gaining the competitive advantage is the ‘Customization of the Customer Experience’ – as businesses have to be flexible and sensitive enough to design its strategy to suit the culture, personality and peculiarities of her customers. Understanding your customer’s language, accents and culture goes a long way to show you value their worth. Going forward, it would be great if every company, designs her IVR service to present all customers with a choice of either saying or typing their account details, post code, order number, tracking number or any information required to route the call. Companies should not assume or generalise that all her customers have the default IVR voice recognition accent.
On a more demanding but interesting note, businesses could invest in incorporating a host of major accents to its voice recognition service. It would take a while but this might be a good point of differentiation if the customisation of customer experience is to be taken seriously. On the contrary, some IVR research like that carried out by call centre helper, expressed that only 18% of contact centres adopted a speech recognition system. The research states that the problem with customising the IVR voice recognition system in line with accents is that of accuracy- an accuracy of about 70% is what was achieved. In the same research, a call centre consultant stated that with proper tuning and modification, the accuracy level could increase to 90%. The biggest challenge to customising the way we listen to how a customer talks to us via IVR is not that of recognition accuracy but a word that may not be on the list. The findings concluded by stating that the “out of grammar” errors can be in the 15% range which affects the overall speech/accent recognition capabilities of IVR.
Regardless of the inherent challenges, companies that would excel in her customer strategy in 2014 are those that listen to their customers speak, make an understanding of what they are saying and act accordingly. Remember accents indicate where you customers are coming from, understanding them helps you know where they are headed for.