What can silence tell us about customer service calls?

Silence in customer service calls

Silence in calls with customer service is quite normal. Sometimes people on either side need time to respond or the agent needs a minute to find an answer. Maybe the customer needs to step away from their phone for a moment. Silence can be unremarkable, but it can also be a sign of an issue. Too much silence in calls can be quite costly to companies. Both in terms of time spent on calls and in the quality of customer service. Therefore this topic needs more attention than it has been getting in the past.

In this post, we will introduce how Feelingstreams’ AI solution can help measure silence, identify the causes and learn from it. All for a more efficient and customer-friendly outcome.

Silence is not getting the attention it deserves

Companies do not usually measure silence in their phone calls. They do not have the means for it and they may not understand the need for it either. When quality managers listen to customer service agents’ phone calls, they will notice when there is a longer period of silence and they may address this when reviewing the calls with the agents. Silence may get some attention when there is room for improvement in those particular calls. But definitely not enough conscious thought in general.

When agents are looking for information or a solution for a customer’s issue during a call, they may be so focused on the search for the answer that they do not notice the prolonged silence in the call. Such quiet time can be uncomfortable for the customer. The ability to actively work on a solution while keeping up a conversation with a customer is not something that comes naturally to a lot of customer service agents.

Calls mean cost for companies and so does quiet time in the calls

Too much silence can be costly to both the customer service agents and the business itself. Each minute spent on the call means cost for the company. We expect customer service agents to be as efficient as they can be within that time. Silence could take up 20-30% of phone calls without the agent or the company even realizing it. How to know then, if there is too much quiet time in the calls? When to act?

Measuring and analyzing silence in calls can give companies an understanding of how their processes are working. It also shows how the calls are structured, and how their agents are managing the customer interactions. If the agent can provide correct answers and information to customers without noticeable conversation breaks, that is a clear sign of confidence. Lack of that may mean that agent training is required. 

There are a lot of different calls that vary from information queries to lengthy technical troubleshooting. The call length and share of quiet time in them are dependent on the topic as well. Today, there are not a lot of companies that would be able to get data about silence in customers’ calls. Proper analysis and action based on such data are even rarer.

Measuring silence with Feelingstream

Feelingstream has taken its AI solution to a whole new level with new functionality to measure the share of silence in phone calls. It can be measured in percentages and/or seconds. The silence share data can be combined with topics, sentiment, and other data points. 

For example, you could check how much silence there is in the calls of a particular team or how big of a percentage do you have in your technical troubleshooting calls. If the share goes up for a certain type of call all of a sudden, that may be a sign of an emerging issue.

It is normal that people stop to think during phone calls. As a good rule of thumb, the silence in calls should be at around 20% or less. 

Examples from the telecom sector

  • The phone calls with the least amount of quiet time occur when the customer is interested in buying something – around 14%
  • Invoices, debt management, and service failure topics have around 16-20% of silence
  • Wrong connections get the largest share – a very extreme 47%. As there is no real discussion or problem solving, it makes sense that there is a lot of silence in this type of calls

Analysis of phone calls based on silence can go into a lot more detail if you look at phone calls for very specific topics. If there is a prolonged silence in a lot of the calls on the same topic, that shows room for improvement. Most likely customer service agents need help with finding data.

Analyzing silence in phone calls can show ways of enhancing processes and pinpoint problem areas with customer service agents’ training. Silence is normal in phone calls, and with the help of data, you can just make your calls more efficient.

Reimagining call structure and helping agents avoid excessive quiet time through training

Measuring and analyzing silence can help the company take a step back and really look at their call structure. There may be something that always creates a bit more quiet time than necessary, but it will remain unnoticed unless properly looked at. Feelingstream encourages companies to take a look at the silence data, acknowledge the silence and then go further – decide where silence is an issue and where it is not. Where there’s room for improvement, they can start work on changing processes and training agents. 

There are quite a few ways to make calls more efficient. For example, you can train agents to:

  • Use scripting for taking the lead in the calls
  • Inform the customer any time they will search for something and there is a risk of silence
  • Use small talk while searching for information – difficult, but not impossible
  • Explain what they are doing during the call – less quiet time

When new processes, offers, and information are available, the agents need to be aware and able to find information fast. This will help reduce silence in calls as well. Even if they do not know the answers to customers’ questions right away, the agents need to know where to look for them.

The impact of “listening to the silence” with Feelingstream

All in all, using Feelingstreams’ AI solution to measure and analyze silence in calls gives companies the opportunity for more efficiency in calls. Prolonged phone calls can be costly for the company and tiring for customers. With proper analysis, it is possible to shorten calls by 20% while reducing unnecessary quiet time. When looking at agents’ performance through the data, areas of improvement will become clear. After training, agents can be more efficient and need less time for calls. The customer experience will certainly be improved as none of us want to spend our time on lengthy phone calls.

Feelingstream can help you reduce your silence share and improve your customer service. Please contact us for a live demo.

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