The data that’s collected from you when you’re routed to a call center

Did I hear you say “sports package”?
Did I hear you say “sports package”?
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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“This call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.”

It’s a familiar phrase, and one that people likely don’t even notice anymore when they phone a call center. But companies are listening carefully to these recordings, trying to glean insights that can help them run their businesses more effectively.

Sifting through hours upon hours of audio recordings is a laborious task. One company that helps automate the process is Santa Barbara, California-based Invoca. With its technology, the marketing firm has analyzed more than 100 million calls since 2008 and provides its clients with a trove of data.

“When you think of it, there’s no better way to connect with a customer than a live human conversation,” Kyle Christensen, chief marketing officer of Invoca, tells Quartz. Yet, he says, phone calls are “not top of mind for marketers,” who prefer to rely on web forms because they’re easier to track.

Here’s how companies are using data that Invoca extracts from phone calls:

Sell, sell, sell: One of Invoca’s clients, an unnamed satellite TV company, listens carefully for certain keywords. When someone calls in and mentions “sports package,” for example, the company makes a note in the customer’s file and tailors its marketing for that person accordingly. “Because it’s said in a call, it’s a huge buying signal you can capitalize on,” says Christensen. Prospective customers who pick up the phone generally have higher purchasing intent. According to the company’s data, 30% to 50% of phone calls lead to sales, compared with 2% for online leads.

Keep tabs on the competition: When sales reps lose a deal, they usually just chalk it up to the price and move on. “You never get insight into why people aren’t buying,” he says. But by scanning audio recordings, companies can track how often a competitor is mentioned in calls, and amend their strategies accordingly. “It’s not something that would show itself in [an online] form or anything else,” he adds.

Connect the dots: For some companies, internal communication can be difficult, especially when departments, such as finance, IT, marketing, and customer service, operate independently. This can prove challenging when a customer calls in about an order, and the information isn’t immediately available to the customer service representative. Christensen says some companies are using Invoca to listen for specific keywords, such as confirmation number or email receipt, mentioned by the caller. The system can then tie in purchasing data, so customer service representatives don’t have to wait for other departments to pull this information for them.