Tuning in to individual callers can be good for business


Share on LinkedIn

Research shows that the average English-speaking rate is 130 – 200 Words Per Minute. This wide WPM range applies to 90% of the English-speaking population.

• For complex material, 130 – 145 WPM may be required
• For average complexity, 145 – 175 WPM can be optimal
• For simple material, well over 175 WPM is possible

Listeners can be lost to boredom, lost to complexity or fully engaged in a conversation based on the speaker’s ability to deliver all types of material at the optimal rate for each listener.

Good communicators are aware of this and continuously monitor their audience. They periodically adjust their conversational pace, verbal content and emphasis to get the message across effectively and efficiently. They make these adjustments in an instinctive, fluid and natural way, thereby quickly “tuning in” to establish optimal harmony with the listener and keeping them fully engaged in the dialogue.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and the services they deliver can only benefit by emulating this intrinsically human quality. Without “tuning in” to a callers behavior during self-service phone calls, real IT efficiencies are lost. This results in measurable losses in terms of customer satisfaction and the costs associated with the handling of these calls.

We tried this “tuning-in approach” on a New York based voice application that handles over 7,000 travel information inquiries per day.

According to the Call Center Manager, the calls frequesntly come in bursts. Managing the system to efficiently use the IVR ports is critical to prevent customers from getting a busy signal or forcing them to wait for a live customer service representative.

Using the approach cut the clients average IVR call duration from 171 seconds down to 145 seconds. Because the technology directly cut average call duration they were able to drive more calls through the IVR and thus better manage peak call volumes with the existing IVR system.

Beyond the efficiency savings, the technology also helped the client improve customer satisfaction with IVR self-service. They measured an increase of about 2 percent in the number of calls completed by the IVR application using the technology. Other client sites have seen up to a 20% increase in IVR Utilization (IVR turns) with a corresponding drop in caller input error rates with the approach.

This combination of improved percentage of calls served by the IVR, along with the drop in call duration reduced costs for the clients Call Center Operations while improving customer service.

You can contact the author at [email protected] for further details on production results obtained with this approach.

Daniel O'Sullivan
CEO, innovator and technologist in software engineering and product development. Created and implemented Adaptive Technology and Fastrack Software products that have optimized over 1.5 Billion self-service phone calls worldwide and saved clients over $100M to date. Electrical Engineering undergrad with a Masters in Computer Science. Lucent/Bell Labs alumni. Winner of worldwide eco-design project and received several patents. Currently CEO of Software Technology Partners.Focus: Business Development, Technology Partnering, Mobile, Web and Cloud Technologies and Human-Computer Interaction.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here