Imagine having a conversation with someone who knew the definition of all the words but had never actually talked to another human being before. You might strike up small talk — “Wow, this is some weather we’ve been having!” Definitionally, “some” would mean “an unspecified amount.” Your interlocutor might agree with you that we indeed have been having an amount of weather. But I think the conversation would stop there.
Now, of course, someone who had been in conversation would know that “some” here had nuance and tone, it carried an implication that the weather had been unusual or remarkable. They might respond “yeah, it’s been something.” Even though literally no information had been exchanged, the two had made their point clear.
What is that? It’s conversational intelligence. It’s the ability to understand someone in order to effectively communicate. That is a skill used by people in all customer-facing roles, and it is something that can be trained using advanced conversational AI coaching platforms.
Conversational intelligence is a new hot topic and about as old as communication itself. Conversational intelligence is both an emerging technology and something that is hardwired into every human. Understanding how the two can work together is how you can create better customer experiences.
The Two Sides of Conversational Intelligence
As we hinted at above, conversational intelligence can refer to two things.
Human-Based Conversation Intelligence.
In her seminal book, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results, the organizational anthropologist Judith E. Glaser defined it as “how open you are to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that prime the brain for trust, partnership, and mutual success.”
In other words, this isn’t a party trick about being able to identify state flags, nor is it about trying to “win” a conversation. It is about how you relate to the person with whom you are talking, how you understand them, how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you can collaborate so that everyone wins.
AI-Driven Conversation Intelligence Software
A combination of machine learning and natural language processing, conversation intelligence software allows businesses to analyze speech and text data from customer interactions in vast quantities. It can identify patterns, highlight flaws, and learn the best way to impart information.
There is some use for NLP software to help AI-driven customer roles, but its biggest benefit comes in training. By identifying what speech works and what doesn’t — by mimicking a human who understands that “some” can have many meanings – it can help train people in customer-facing roles to create more successful customer interactions.
What Are The Benefits of Conversational Intelligence?
Let’s focus on the human aspect of it. As Glaser identified, learning how to be effective in a conversation is key to opening your brain to learn more. The theory of Conversational Intelligence isn’t a “habits of highly effective people,” type of informal sociology, as useful as that is. It is based in neuroscience. Basically, the more you authentically communicate the better you get at authentically communicating.
This theory has its roots in evolutionary theory as well. Human evolution contained a lot of innovations, probably none more important than language. While scientists are discovering that other animals have distinct forms of language, none as are complex as human language.
What happens when we talk, when we actually communicate? It’s not just throwing words at each other. True communication creates a shared reality. I say I have a problem and you understand it. It isn’t an abstraction. My communication opened up your neural pathways that recognized the problem, placed it in context, evaluated it alongside other similar things you have heard and learned, and allowed you to respond in context.
Conversational intelligence doesn’t men becoming “smarter”, traditionally defined. It isn’t a trick. It is training your brain to listen, understand, contextualize, and then act.
OK, But How Does That Impact Customer-Facing Employees?
Think of what makes the best customer experience. We know what businesses value most:
- Time of resolution
- Problem-solving skills
- Empathy and understanding
All of these go into the CSAT score – was the customer satisfied? Did they get their problem solved? Were they given an endless runaround? Did the person on the other end of the line seem like they really understood them and wanted to help?
Employees can often resolve simple problems by sticking to the script and moving from Point A to Point B. They are trained to do so and generally handle those situations very well.
It’s when problems get more complicated that it gets sticky. When problems go off-script, the employee has to improvise. This doesn’t mean making things up. It means being able to understand the problem and place it in context of similar situations in order to come to a resolution.
Sound familiar? It should – that conversational contextualization is at the heart of conversational intelligence. And as Glaser said, it is learned through repetition.
That repetition could come from calls with real customers. Or it could come, with less risk, from training.
Using Conversational Intelligence Software for Training
In theory, practicing conversational intelligence is easy. All you have to do is have a lot of conversations with an employee, giving them all sorts of different scenarios, over and over, until they have enough experience to contextualize. Meanwhile, the employee can be scored on how they respond to cues and the trainer can adapt in real time. Ideally, they can draw from thousands of real-life customer conversations in order to make the interactions as realistic as possible.
OK – maybe that isn’t so easy, even in theory.
That’s why many companies are using intelligent platforms to mimic interactions. These learning tools can analyze customer interactions and provide realistic training scenarios, even adapting in real time to how the employee is responding. By giving them these hyper-realistic immersive learning experiences without actually having to handle real-life customers, they can expand their neural networks AND boost their confidence.
The AI Coaching platform from Zenarate takes this a step further. It not only converses, but analyzes the employee responses. It can judge empathy, agility, and ability to move the problem toward a resolution. It can give a set of easily-analyzable metrics to managers, who can focus on areas of potential improvement. In other words, the platform acts as both the customer and the more experienced manager, who can understand what the employee is doing well and what needs work.
Conversation comes naturally to some people. For others, it is more of a challenge. But no matter who you are, you can improve your Conversation Intelligence. Using the right platform can help sales and customer-facing roles be more natural, be more connected, and be more able to get to a resolution. I think we’d all agree: that would really be something.
Contact us today to schedule a demo to learn more about how you can incorporate Zenarate AI Simulation Training into your agent training program. We will answer your questions and show you how you can help your organization develop confidently prepared agents while delivering exceptional experiences to the ones that matter most – your customers.
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