The Automotive Industry’s New Road to Success; Sharing their Narrative for Change with Customers

Freespee diversity & technology in automotive industry

Findings from the Freespee and Fidelio roundtable during the Automotive in the Extinction Rebellion World: How Diversity and Innovation can Contribute to the Industry’s Response to Climate Change’. 

The automotive industry is going through a period of huge transformation where more innovation, new skill sets, and greater diversity will be essential for success. Automotive firms are required to listen to the customer voice, make this voice the epicentre of all their  strategies, their narratives, and future plans. 

Last month, a select number of leading C-level automotive industry professionals invited by Freespee CEO, Anne de Kerckhove, and Fidelio Co-Founder and Head of Chair & Board Practice, Gillian Karran-Cumberlege met at the ‘Automotive in the Extinction Rebellion World: How Diversity and Innovation can Contribute to the Industry’s Response to Climate Change’ event. 

The topic of the day revolved around climate change and how the industry can fit within that new narrative. It became apparent that each OEM must develop their new narratives by listening attentively to the customer voice — and always focusing on customers when making decisions.

Consumers and climate change: Are Electric Vehicles their only alternative?

The recent valuation of Tesla, now second most valuable brand behind Toyota, has confirmed the importance of a strong narrative in the automotive industry, despite Tesla selling just 0.4m cars last year compared to Toyota’s 10.7m. Several of the participants questioned the valuation and raised concerns about the steps taken by some governments who have brought forward plans to ban the sale of any vehicles other than electric vehicles (EV)s.  According to these participants, battery-powered cars are not the only way to reduce carbon footprint and other technologies, such as hydrogen should also be considered.  

Whilst the perceived valuation of native EV brands and their products paints the picture of a promising future, industry and governments have a huge challenge ahead to ensure wider adoption in the short term. Limitations on the EV charging infrastructure, high price tags, short battery life, the inconvenience of charging from home and unclear regulations are all blockers for mass adoption. It will be down to ‘Fast Follower’ OEMs’ and governments’ support that will transform the EV industry into a mass production business that caters for the remaining 99% of the population.

Finding a ‘New North Star’ – How ‘Fast Followers’ Will be Able to Innovate.

Whilst there are clear challenges to wider electric car adoption, it is undeniable that Tesla, the 17 year-old California-based company market disruptor, owes much of its success and mesmerising growth in value to their strong narrative. 

They are evangelists for climate change, deeply connected with their audience and can be seen as both, an automotive manufacturer and a tech company. Their customer experience sets a modern benchmark; knitting together personalisation at scale, speed, and convenience and has become an aspirational model appreciated by consumers around the world. However, Tesla is still perceived as elitist to some, and both the digital and automotive industries are still very much male-dominated businesses that lack diversity.

During the event, participants highlighted how the traditional automotive groups and brands lack this type of strong narrative, which is preventing them from innovating and turning them into ‘fast followers’. Defining a new narrative that can reflect the need for innovation will require new leadership, new skill sets, and new partnerships with cities, governments, and stakeholders across the value chain. Binding it all together is the voice of the customer, which will help each OEM find their market niche.

OEMs are not finding innovation easy because as an industry that has operated in the same way for over 50 years, they don’t know where to start. Some of the suggestions raised included creating a global consortium of professionals, from every part of the value chain, to help the industry navigate future challenges, requirements, and limitations and, also, identifying tools to collect customer data and harness insights to enrich their narratives and influence decision making, both internally but also externally, at government level. But above all OEM’s must focus on defining their new North Star and ambition.

How will greater diversity at the Workplace and among Stakeholders help?

The automotive customer landscape has changed dramatically. 30 years ago, the buyer profile was predominantly male. Today women make 85% of the buying decisions (Automotive News, 2018) and hold 51% of vehicle licenses in the UK.

Despite women’s decision-making power, the industry has ignored this new reality. Cars are still designed for men, putting women in a vulnerable situation. As a result of this, women are 73% more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in car accidents.

Diversity has not reached the workplace either. Initiatives like Automotive 30% are working hard to promote diversity across the automotive industry and some of the participants attested to this by proving some of the OEMs are already hitting these targets. However, much work remains to be done. In the US, only 19.2% of dealership workforce are female – 5% of the General Managers and 1% of service technicians (NADA Dealership Workforce, 2018). As a result, 75% of women who enter a dealership feel misunderstood (Bank of America) and leave without purchasing a car.

The effort to attract diversity should not stop at bringing women onboard. The industry needs to work on initiatives and changes that retain this talent – flexible work, fair promotions, equality in the treatment and overall appeal of the job should be considered too. To achieve this, work needs to start much earlier. Starting in the classrooms, educating girls, showing them professional opportunities in the industry and getting them closer to female automotive role models so this career path is normalised very early on.

Diversity needs to be extended to reach new generations. Preferences among millennials are changing from buying to leasing and sharing. Participants agreed that current decision making needs to expand to include the preferences of those that will need cars in 15 years. The industry needs to keep an open dialogue, and open mind, to understand emerging trends and customer preferences so they can devise strategies to accommodate the needs of future buyers. Not all commuters will want to buy a car, there are other options and it’s important that brands are open to listen. A strong brand narrative will revolve around the vehicle and how it fits the needs of their audience, regardless of how the car is used.

Sharing Customer Data With Government For Better Involvement

The automotive industry is desperately playing catch-up when it comes to addressing government-led restrictions and regulations to tackle climate change. Initiatives like the recent announcement by the UK government to push forward the ban on diesel and petrol car sales to 2035 have a huge impact on their bottom lines. OEMs need more support and closer alignment with governments to be better prepared in the future. The consensus is that by working together, industry and governments will be able to devise better future plans. 

The current low-carbon footprint vehicle market is filled with uncertainties and unknowns. Governments need customer data to understand future customer trends and be prepared for any changes that might happen. The EV market needs greater support from the government to create the infrastructure required to incentivise consumers to buy electric cars. Initiatives to set up wireless charging points are good first steps but more needs to be done.

Freespee – Learnings from the automotive sector 

During the event participants shared the challenges the industry is currently facing and the steps to be taken to reinvent themselves. 

  • OEMs need to work with technology companies, partners and governments to build future-proof business strategies that better prepare them for future challenges. The global assumption lies on the need to keep customers at the centre of the spider web of decisions. How effectively this is done across all communication channels (web, marketplace, phone and in-store) will boost their brand, engagement and ultimately position in the market . 
  • Strong new narratives closely aligned to the customers’ needs are essential. OEMs need to maximise reach consumer interaction, on-line, by phone and at the dealership to present their value to customers, today and in the future. Dealers must have within their immediate grasp much better knowledge of the customers’ journey in real time and address those needs on the spot.
  • To represent a changing customer base OEMs will need to embark on a complete transformation driving diversity to the workplace, attracting new leadership and skill sets. The transformation will impact their business model too, through a digital transformation that will make possible the delivery of a seamless omni-channel strategy that enables them to talk and engage with customers the way they want. 

OEMs need to focus their efforts on bringing this customer voice forward, and use the insights to redefine and develop their narratives successfully into the future, in partnership with their dealership and retail touchpoints. You can find out how OEMs and their dealerships can overcome these challenges together, here.

Freespee has a track record in helping OEMs and their dealers gain insights on customers’ intent, by tracking online and offline behaviour and their perception on the customer experience received. This data helps companies get closer to their customers and deliver a better, more personalised buying journey that accelerates sales. To learn more about Freespee please contact us here:

Automotive 30% – Workforce diversity necessary for future success

Workforce diversity is not an altruistic endeavour for the automotive industry. Assumptions about cars being ‘for men’ are not just politically incorrect — they are factually incorrect.

85% of car buying decisions are made by women.

Across the industry, manufacturers, marketers and dealerships all know that appealing to female car buyers will be a massive competitive advantage. And they know the key will be hiring and promoting women.

UK Automotive 30% Club

The Automotive 30% Club was founded by Julia Muir in 2016 with the purpose of achieving a better gender balance within the automotive industry and with the aim of filling at least 30% of key leadership positions with women by 2030 through a ’30 by 30′ strategy:

  • ‘Reach Out’ – to attract female talent
  • ‘Welcome In’ – to remove bias in recruitment
  • ‘Pull Through’ – to pull women through the promotional pipeline
  • ‘Hold On’ – to retain talented women

At the Automotive 30% Club’s annual conference, we heard evidence of why gender balance is essential for commercial success and for saving lives. We also heard positive success stories, including from AutoTrader – who hosted the event.

Automotive industry – a market in need of transformation

That the automotive industry is in need of a massive transformation is no news to anyone. 

Tesla and similar companies are forcing traditional OEMs to innovate because they prioritise what the customer wants and innovate faster.

The buyer profile has changed too. Data shows that women make 85% of the buying decisions (Automotive News, 2018) and they hold 51% of vehicle licenses in the UK.

Despite women’s decision-making power, automotive dealerships have not been able to accommodate this new reality. 

In the US, only 19.2% of dealership workforce are female – 5% of the General Managers and 1% of service technicians (NADA Dealership Workforce, 2018). As a result, 75% of women who enter a dealership feel misunderstood by dealers (Bank of America).

Automotive 30% – education and research drivers for change

‘From boardroom to classroom’

In this search for female empowerment and removal of prejudices as early as possible, UK Automotive 30% Club founder Julia Muir launched Inspiring Automotive Women Day (IAW Day).

IAW Day is an annual day event, now in its 4th year. In 2019, in addition to the large anchor day event, we also coordinated 24 school visits whereby our network of female volunteers visited schools across the country to inspire their pupils to gain a greater understanding of the wide variety of job roles available within the sector.

Our volunteers are from across all levels within the business and during these sessions run a structured activity that showcases the wide variety of roles within the sector and answer questions students have about their jobs, career paths, how to achieve future career goals or the importance of work ethics and positive attitude.

During the annual Automotive 30% Club conference, pupils from East Barnet school were invited to our conference to detail the positive impact of attending our IAW Day event at the VWG National Learning Centre in May 2019. They also spoke to our delegates about their all-girls F1 in schools team called Harmony and Jada Maya-Modha spoke of her school’s robotics club called Girl Bots.

With the arrival of:

  • A female headteacher, Ms Swaine, who understands the challenges young women face in the workplace (particularly in STEM roles); and 
  • Mr Sadler, their male technology teacher who recently won an innovation award

These young women are guided by inspiring female and male adults. Their talent is being nurtured in directions they may have previously ignored (or been put off) due to a lack of awareness of female representation in those industries. 

The IAW days aim to encourage young women to consider automotive roles and it appears to be working – one attendee reported that her daughter was now considering a role in the automotive industry, which she had not done prior to the day. Catching the imagination of young girls before they’ve made a decision about which industry they’d like to pursue a career, is part of the UK Automotive 30% Club’s goal… it seems like after 3 years the strategy is working.

Research and data bias put women’s lives at risk

Anne de Kerckhove, Freespee’s CEO, introduced Caroline Criado-Perez, author of the Royal Society Science Prize winning book ‘Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men’. Anne has a long standing commitment to her passion of helping, supporting and mentoring female professionals and so was keen to interview Criado-Perez about her latest book.

During her presentation Criado-Perez revealed some shocking facts that showcase data bias as the world has been designed for ‘Reference Man’ – the default ‘man’ – who is 70kg, caucasian and male. 

Speaking to the automotive industry in particular, the author explained that the use of male dummies to test the impact of seat-belts puts women in a vulnerable situation – they are 73% more likely to be seriously or fatally injured in car accidents.

Since 2011, some car manufacturers have started using female dummies for these type of tests, which has decreased the security rating of cars that used to be rated higher until then. Criado-Perez finished her talk by requesting the automotive industry to start designing seat-belts that are adapted to women, as well as a pregnancy seat belt.

30% is the baseline, not the target. And we’ll only achieve 30% with support and sponsorship from male professionals.

Achieving diversity in the workforce is not a responsibility that relies solely on female professionals. For it to succeed it needs the support and involvement of their male counterparts.

Diversity, as it was made clear during the event, does not only involve attracting women to the industry but seeks to promote ethnic diversity too.

This year’s event was hosted and sponsored by AutoTrader, the leading automotive marketplace in the UK, who is committed to bringing change to the industry and their organization. They have a powerful and strong female presence in their leading positions and a forward-thinking CEO designate, Nathan Coe, who is leading by example; taking days off to take his children to sports activities or staying home when they are sick.

Driving change requires a joint effort. During this annual gathering it was inspiring to see so many male and female professionals committed to driving the change required to achieve diversity in the work space.

Phone: The Best Sales Channel for Club Med

ClubMed Slide

On the last day of VoiceTech Paris, we attended another great presentation by Amina Chaabane, Head of Digital Sales B2B and Caroline Launois-Beaurain, Head of Global Omnichannel Sales Tools at Club Med, the luxury, all-inclusive holidays firm. 

During the presentation, Amina and Caroline focused on 3 key points:

  • Their omnichannel strategy, which is driven by voice.
  • The transformation of their customer experience.
  • How media attribution is contributing to revenue growth.

Omnichannel Strategy

For many years, the luxury travel industry has operated ‘offline’. Holiday packages and services have been promoted through booklets, specialised magazines, non-digital advertising, and by the agencies themselves.

All the heavy-lifting was done by agents, who also recommended or influenced options, and completed the final booking. 

With the digital world quickly taking over, customers are also expecting a full service to be available ‘online’. Companies are being forced to integrate digital marketing and online processes with their traditional ‘offline’ customer-facing processes to secure growth and provide the high service levels customers expect.

In the breakout session, Amina Chaabane presented Club Med’s digital transformation process, which was launched in 2016. This initiative stems from Club Med’s international strategy to upscale their business.  

Analysing the Customer Journey – Insights into Customer Behaviour

After extensive analysis that combined data from customers’ online and offline journey with data from Club Med’s CRM system, results showed that:

  • Customer journeys were complex and involved multiple touch-points. 
  • Most customer journeys included at least one phone call.

As a result, Club Med launched their omnichannel strategy. The primary focus is voice, as customers chooses phone calls as the main communications channel for sales.

The Power of Contextual Information

The unique opportunity that voice creates, to engage with customers and influence purchase decisions, has inspired the creative ‘juices’ of many voice technology providers.

During VoiceTech we heard many technology providers and customer firms who have developed sophisticated solutions to dissect conversations and gain insights. They have been using voice technology to understand intent, instructions, sentiment, and outcomes to improve understanding after phone calls. 

Club Med collect all the data from customers online and offline journey to predict intent, which has enabled them to influence the customer experience at every stage of the buying process.

Remove the IVR to Increase Sales

Visibility over every customer journey uncovered the first area for Club Med to address — their interactive voice response system (IVR).

Their IVR system, used to route callers to the right agent, was losing many sales opportunities. The unpopularity of IVR was causing many callers to hang up, before talking to an agent.

After running an A/B test, Club Med decided to remove the IVR and use predictive routing. The caller’s online behaviour is used to predict the caller’s intent and automatically route the call to the right team.

Read “Predicting Caller Intent” for reasons why more companies are looking to understand caller intent before the call.

Results shared by Amina Chaabane showed that by delivering a better customer experience and connecting callers with agents faster, they reduced the number of missed calls significantly and increased sales conversion rates.

Seamless Omnichannel Bookings

Once the call is received by the agent, Club Med is able to display the caller’s contextual information to the agent in real time.

Club Med uses computer telephony integration (CTI), so when a customer in the middle of an online booking calls, the agent can take over that booking in one click. Behind the scenes, Freespee passes the booking id from the web session to the PBX.

This new way of engaging with customers is transforming the customer experience. And Agents are enjoying providing a better service that is more efficient for them and more successful for completing sales. 

Marketing Attribution 

Last but not least, Club Med explained that by gaining access to this 360° view of the customer journey, they are able to accurately attribute revenue back to leads and leads back to campaigns.

All data collected by Freespee is sent to Google Analytics in real time, where Club Med can see:

  • A granular view of the keywords and campaigns that are driving the most leads.
  • Which campaigns are converting at the highest rates and the revenue generated by each campaign.

This analysis is helping Club Med optimise their marketing efforts and invest in the campaigns that reap the highest return on investment.

You can read through the presentation Club Med gave here, in English.

Total Direct Energie Benefits from Voice Data

Total Direct Energie Workshop

At VoiceTech Paris yesterday, Total Direct Energie gave a fascinating talk explaining how they have been using voice data over the last four years.

François Rommel, Head of Analytics at Total Direct Energie explained how combining voice data and website data has given them a greater understanding of customer behaviour.

This follows on from the great presentation Amina Chaabane, Head of Digital Sales B2B and Caroline Launois-Beaurain, Head of Global Omnichannel Sales Tools at Club Med, gave “Phone: The Best Sales Channel for Club Med.”

Visibility of Customer Journeys

Total Direct Energie could use traditional web analytics tools to see how customers came to their website, the pages they visited, and online sales conversions.

However, over 50% of sales were completed during phone calls, so Total Direct Energie were only able to see part of the picture. 

By tying every sales call into a web visitor session, they were able to understand:

  • Which digital advertising campaigns were driving sales calls.
  • The overall customer experience for online and offline.
  • Deeper insight into customer behaviour.

Between 2015 and 2019, more and more people became aware they could easily switch energy providers and the market became much more competitive. During this time the number of Total Direct Energie customers rose from under 1 million to 4 million.

Transformation Journey

François Rommel led the process through a number of stages, each time using data to guide the way forward.

To get full data visibility of online and offline behaviour, he implemented Freespee with Google Analytics integration. Since then, they have progressively improved visibility into customer journeys and enriched their audience targeting.

A/B Testing Increases Calls 10%

An early experiment challenged the effectiveness of the special 4-digit phone numbers that Total Direct Energie typically used in marketing campaigns.

Common sense would suggest that dialling 4-digits is going to be easier than dialling a regular 10-digit phone number. But after some careful A/B testing, François Rommel proved that regular phone numbers actually boosted calls by +10%.

It is thought that some people were reluctant to dial an unusually short phone number.

Identifying High-Quality Sales Calls

Identifying which web visitors were calling proved useful, as there were many cases where looking at web analytics data on its own could be misleading.

For instance, it may seem that a web visitor had lost interest and exited. But really, they had just switched channel by picking up the phone and calling Total Direct Energie.

This often happens when customers have lots of questions or feel the purchase is complex. Speaking to a human is fast, efficient, and reassuring.

Understanding there was a call is useful. However not all phone calls are equal.

Customers will call on many issues including support calls and for simple, quick questions. Careful analysis revealed the types of call that were ‘good’ calls:

  • How long was the call? If it was too short, it could not be a successful call.
  • What drove the call and which web pages did they visit before calling?

Knowing which calls were high-quality sales calls meant Total Direct Energie could more accurately:

  • Predict people’s intent before they even called.
  • Identify and optimise successful marketing campaigns.
  • Build more effective retargeting audience.
Read “Predicting Caller Intent” for reasons why more companies are looking to understand caller intent before the call.

Using Offline Revenue for Online Targeting

Total Direct Energie use sophisticated digital marketing for customer segmentation, including segmenting customers before they visit the Total Direct Energie website.

They develop lookalike audiences to identify people with similar characteristics to previous customers, so they know which advertising campaigns are most likely to be effective for them.

Where the customer journey is purely digital, they can use cookies and digital ids end-to-end to tie visitors to advertising platforms, web visitor sessions, and conversions on Total Direct Energie’s internal systems.

To make this work for all customer journeys, Total Direct Energie needed to integrate offline phone call data into their online data, by:

  1. Tying customer transactions in Total Direct Energie’s CRM system to the specific phone call with that customer. 
  2. Tying that specific phone call to the digital ids used by the sophisticated range of marketing and advertising technologies they use including Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Content Square.

By ‘closing the loop’ Total Direct Energie can optimise their marketing to focus on the campaigns and audience that drive the most revenue.

Using Content Square enables a much richer understanding of the customer’s journey and how to improve the usability experience. This helps improve the effectiveness of the website for the customer types likely to purchase, encouraging them to sign up online or over the phone.

You can read through the presentation Total Direct Energie gave here, in French.

Predicting Caller Intent

Predicting Caller Intent

Written By Tim Wirth

Today and tomorrow, Paris is hosting VoiceTech — an annual event discussing ideas and innovations around voice technology. 

A key theme is brands can really gain insights from phone conversations to improve the customer experience and increase sales revenue.

This year, VoiceTech includes some great talks covering a wide range of topics covering all aspects of voice technology, including: AI, IVR routing, biometrics, sentiment analysis and voice bots. 

These are technologically sophisticated solutions that help companies identify people’s intent after they have spoken, and can be used during or after phone calls.

Understanding Phone Calls, Before They Even Start 

The words people speak, the way they say those words, the timing, the tone of voice… can all produce a mass of data to be digitised and analysed.

To gain a fuller, more complete picture of the caller’s intent, you can look at what each caller was doing beforehand, and what drove them to call you.

  1. If they have been on your international luxury holiday website searching for holiday locations and have spent the last few minutes looking at pictures for one specific location — they probably want to book a holiday there.
  2. If they have been looking at the FAQ pages on your website to see how they can switch from another energy supplier — they probably want you to become their energy supplier. 

Understanding the caller’s online behaviour before they call you, gives you a more complete picture of their intent and gives you the opportunity to improve the customer experience.

For instance, in the first example you could send that caller to an agent who speaks their language. And if they have started an online booking process you can pass that booking to the agent.

Similarly, if you are the energy supplier, you may decide that a new customer switching to you takes priority over a support call, so their call is answered next.

Club Med and Total Direct Energie

Two leading companies, Club Med and Total Direct Energie, are innovative customers proving how valuable it is to understand caller intent.

By combining data from website visits, CRM systems, marketing technologies, and phone calls they have both delivered superior customer experience and commercial results.

Speakers from Club Med and Total Direct Energie will be sharing their experiences at VoiceTech.

Reasons to Understand Intent Before the Call

  1. Training Machine Learning
  2. Call Routing
  3. Prepare Your Agent
  4. Marketing Attribution

1. Training Machine Learning

The technology for understanding speech is progressing rapidly, especially around machine learning. 

One of the key practical issues we are seeing with machine learning implementations is how to build high-quality training data that is specific to a client’s business context, terminology, and languages.

As our Head of Product, Jeremy Hamill-Keays explains in “Learn to Make Stew Before You Implement Machine Learning” machine learning for voice and speech, requires high quality training data that is:

  • Very specific for each client.
  • Collected easily.

The more holistic the data, the quicker the machine will learn. Companies are looking to implement new strategies quickly to improve customer experience.

Long waiting times, busy agents, and repeated questions all add effort and friction, driving customers to look elsewhere.

Capturing the caller’s intent and recording the calls is a practical, effective way to build a high-quality training dataset. There are multiple, scalable ways to digitally capture intent data for instance:

  • Predicting intent from the caller’s online journey.
  • Asking a sample of callers to choose their reason for calling from a call to action widget.
  • Asking agents to manually categorise calls.
  • Sending callers a post-call survey widget.

2. Call Routing

The traditional method for routing inbound calls involves an IVR (interactive voice response). This legacy technology is very unpopular with:

  • 98% of callers wanting to avoid an IVR.
  • 40% of callers abandoning a call within the first 60 seconds of an IVR call.

By predicting caller intent and using a modern cloud-based call routing, each call can be routed directly to the most appropriate agent or queue.

This gives you the flexibility to route calls:

  • To give highest priority to the calls that are highest value or most urgent.
  • To direct calls to people with the right skills to handle that call.
  • To give new agents calls that are easiest to answer.

3. Prepare Your Agent

Understanding why someone is calling means you can prepare your call center or sales agent before they even answer the phone.

Presenting agents with contextual information helps them to have better, more successful sales conversations. For instance, you can show your agents:

  • Details of the products they have been looking at.
  • Information from their previous calls or interaction with your company.
  • Where they are calling from and if they are using a mobile phone.

Providing agents with insights into intent can help close sales more quickly, and it can help provide a superior customer experience.

4. Marketing Attribution

Full visibility over the entire customer journey, from responding to a digital ad or billboard, to browsing your website, through to making a phone call and purchasing in a retail outlet allows you to attribute and optimise your marketing.

Marketing teams need to know:

  • Which campaigns, ads and keywords are driving calls?
  • Which calls result in a positive sales outcome?
  • The actual revenue generated.

By tying that data together, you can optimise your marketing campaigns by investing in the most effective channels, campaigns, and keywords.

Coming to VoiceTech 2019?

If you are coming to VoiceTech 2019, see how Total Direct Energie and Club Med are leveraging pre-call caller intent data to improve customer experience and commercial results.

“Looking for Growth? See How Total Direct Energie Benefits from Voice Data”François RommelHead of AnalyticsTotal Direct Energie
26 November 2019Salle Ateliers B15:30 – 16:00
“How Club Med’s Omnichannel Strategy is Driven by Voice”Amina ChaabaneHead of Digital Sales B2BClub Med
27 November 2019Salle Ateliers B14:00 – 14:30

Please stop by stand D03, and find out how you can understand more about the customers calling your business, and how you can improve customer experience and commercial results.

Real Estate Trends 2020

Property Portal Watch Team

Written by Martin Aarestad and Jakob Kolsmyr

Last week we attended the Property Portal Watch conference in Madrid. 400 real estate professionals from around the world came together to share ideas, trends, and best practices around some of the burning issues facing real estate today and in the future.

We also had the opportunity to have insightful conversations with some of our customers, like Paul Wicks (shown), EMEA CTO at JLL, and with a wide range of other real estate experts.

Key themes people were discussing for 2020 included:

  • The shift towards a hybrid model
  • The focus on iBuyers
  • Getting closer to the transaction

Digital Transformation Has Started. A Bumpy Ride for Some

For the last 5-10 years the real estate industry has predicted a digital transformation to cater for the ever-increasing needs of tech-savvy and informed consumers who want to take control over the buying/selling process, instead of relying solely on estate agents.

Startups are disrupting markets globally and are proving that a fully offline experience is no longer viable. These startups don’t have the legacy technology and process issues that established players have to contend with. This means they can deliver a digital customer experience to attract buyers and sellers to their websites and apps, provide all the property information required, and manage viewings — completely online.

But, a fully online experience is not an option either. The woes of purely digital real estate agencies here in the UK, such as Hatched and Emoov are well documented, and even PurpleBricks has seen their share price tumble.    

Hybrid Required — Digital and Human

As we heard during the event, the real estate industry is shifting towards a hybrid model. This model uses digital tools combined with human interaction.

Buying or selling a property is a high-value, complex purchase and people want to engage with a human. They need to talk to an agent face-to-face or over the phone, to proceed.

Both buyers and sellers value the trust and safety offered by a human real estate agent. The agencies having the most success are training their agents to be more like consultants. A good example is Swedish startup Norban, as founder Adrian Miller explained during his excellent presentation “How Hybrid Agencies are Disrupting the Traditional Real Estate Industry”.

By working in a closer relationship with agencies, portals will get closer to the transaction. This symbiotic relationship will open the door to a change in their business model and the possibility for portals to offer new additional services to customers.


One way for property portals to get closer to the transaction is to actually purchase properties as an ‘iBuyer’. In many markets around the world, iBuyers are challenging the traditional ways residential properties are bought and sold.

Using extensive data and technology iBuyers value your property and offer to buy it at a date you choose. They offer simpler, more convenient alternatives to traditional home selling.

  • Saving time and hassle — no viewings, decorating, repairs at the last minute.
  • More control over moving dates — reducing other costs like bridging loans.

The main challenge with this model is that is very cash demanding, since you are buying the properties yourself and turning them over.

iBuyers are taking risk and providing a valuable experience for sellers in return for a greater margin. This market is becoming increasingly competitive and uncertain, with more pressure on margins.

To be fully successful, iBuyers will need access to extensive data on properties, sales, liquidity, demand, and real insights into buyers’ profile, their behaviour and purchase journey. Success requires turning human and digital customer conversations into actionable data to sell properties quickly.

Closer to the Transaction

The common driver of the models listed above is that all real estate players want to get closer to the transaction. They want to offer more value-added services to provide a superior experience and improve their margins. Many real estate portals (marketplaces) may move from a subscription-based model to lead-based, moving closer and closer to managing a part of the transaction.

As new models emerge, they disrupt traditional, established business practices across different markets. Real estate market leaders are being challenged by fast moving startups that are getting closer to the transaction and generating more value for the agencies. The market players offering the clearest value will ultimately have the most control.

Improving the Customer Experience

The digital transformation taking place in the real estate industry is showing parallel trends we are seeing with marketplaces and portals in other industries, such as luxury and automotive.  Even though it will be difficult to move to a 100% online transaction, there is plenty of room to improve the overall experience for buyers and sellers.

Over the last 5 years, Freespee customers including some of the most successful real estate services firms have been leading this digital transformation. They have been supporting users throughout the entire buying journey, and providing agencies with full visibility from lead generation and media attribution, through to lead management and actual revenue.

Interested in digital transformation for your real estate services? Get in touch with us.

Learn To Make Stew Before You Implement Machine Learning


Written by our Head of Product, Jeremy Hamill-Keays

In the Rhondda Valley, in darkest deepest Wales, there are certain questions which have only one answer.  One of them is ‘Who makes the best cawl?’  The answer, of course, is “my Mam”.  As you’re probably wondering, cawl is a hearty stew beloved by the Welsh.

With winter drawing near here in Sweden, I started to long for a bowl, so I phoned her up and asked for the recipe.  It’s not a secret so here it is; I highly recommend.

  • Pot of water
  • Chopped up neck of lamb
  • Whatever root vegetables are in the cupboard
  • Parsley
  • Salt/pepper/herbs to taste

I was slightly confused; how could it be so vague?  Shouldn’t it be exact weights and measures?  My mother scoffed, and told me then it wouldn’t be cawl.

Making cawl before Wales’ next big game (World Cup 2019)

The Need for Training

At Freespee, we work heavily with providing a frictionless user experience including routing calls directly to a destination such as a high value sales queue. Freespee contains many services to optimise sales leads and one of these is predictive routing.  

Developments in machine learning are making large impacts and have huge potential to drive customer experience improvements; that gold member needs to be looked after.

While machine learning has many advantages over rules-based systems, it suffers from a couple of  major drawbacks. Before you can use a machine learning technique, the system needs to be taught, and obtaining training data can be difficult. It also requires that multiple sources of data are used to reach a level of sophistication required in the modern digital world.

There are generic machine learning engines which claim to do things like call categorisation “out-of-the-box”, however real-world testing often proves that to be inaccurate. They are not adapted to any one customers data set or business.

Good, accurate training set data is essential for commercial use and this is what holds back many machine learning projects. It is important to have multiple sources of data.

Your Recipe is Unique

So, what has this to do with Mam’s cawl?

Well, a little like her recipe, machine learning requires a mixture of ingredients all working in harmony; with the exact ratios changing from company to company, and over time. 

Get it right and it works really well, which can make a significant impact on your business.

At Freespee, we have concentrated on ensuring that the data needed for machine learning engine implementation can be easily collected in many ways.  

As an example, a speech analytics call categorization service can be trained with data derived from the pre-call Call To Action (CTA) widget, which asks a percentage of visitors what’s the reason for their call. 

The CTA improves the visitor experience and is a low friction method of data collection. It can then be combined with data from CRM, IVR, or from “outcome” fields, completed by agents using Freespee softphones such as Freespee Talk and mobile apps. 

Each company has unique needs, so we feel this holistic approach is better; technology adapts to people, not the other way around. 

So if you are offered a speech analytics solution, ask – how difficult will it be for a training set to be built and does it match your process? How many ingredients or data sets are used to optimise the engine and provide an ability to adapt to an ever changing environment? Or better yet, get in touch with us to find out more.

How We Can All Learn From Lost Luggage

Talk Web Version

Written by our Head of Product, Jeremy Hamill-Keays

A friend of mine posted a photo from a recent trip to our “lads” Facebook group. His airline took his, and just about everyone else’s, cabin bags and put them in the hold. The reason, they announced, was the lack of room in the cabin overhead bins. As you can see from the picture below, the flight took off with the cabin storage nearly empty. Needless to say, my friend made it to his destination, his bags didn’t, and the particular airline didn’t exactly get a high NPS from him.

But, is the poor customer experience in the example above confined to flights? If you look closely, you will see this situation replicated throughout your everyday life. 

Each day, millions of people visit websites looking for information or to make a purchase. Still, the majority of people buying something who have a question, prefer to call the relevant company. Data shows that 54% of visitors prefer to speak with an agent than type in a web chat, a figure that will keep on growing, especially as the mobile phone has become the main device used for web browsing.

The web visitor, becomes a caller, and is then routed through an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menu system, an automated process that provides a never-ending list of destination options. IVR menus are unpopular with callers, causing many of them to abandon, and many reporting the dial-in options are unclear. After pressing the required digits, the caller is then connected to an agent, who starts the conversation with a long list of questions to understand the query and provide the required help. 

If this customer journey was a flight somewhere, it would be equivalent to having to take multiple flights, instead of a direct flight. We would be required to check-in our hand-luggage only to have it get lost at every flight transfer. Maybe this is the way forward to combat climate change, but as an experience is it not one any of us would aspire to. 

At Freespee, we like direct flights and we like to ensure the luggage arrives to the destination with you. Great service relies on quickly helping a customer finish a purchase or get the answer to a query. Many web chat systems now send the web visitors’ browsing session information, also referred to as online context, to the agent in the chat. However, when it comes to the phone channel, many people assume there is little that can be done. However, there is absolutely something that can be done and by taking some simple steps you can vastly improve the customer experience.

As an example, a person who has completed an order form but is stuck on the payment page is most likely calling to complete the order. Freespee uses the information from the web journey, the caller’s online context, to predict their intent and automatically route this particular call straight to the high-value sales queue, completely removing the need for an IVR. This seamless call experience removes friction for customers, while it helps agents exceed their sales targets and glow with success.

Here at Freespee, we have been helping our customers accelerate sales opportunities in this way for many years.

The functionality doesn’t just stop at removing the IVR. Agents can be shown, in real time, the caller’s online context, which helps turn painful interrogations into pleasant conversations. This personalisation promotes great customer service and delivers a highly individualized buying experience. Agents are also happier and far more engaged with the caller. Customers remain loyal and NPS scores benefit.  

The final upside is shorter average call handling times (AHT). Some of our customers have reduced AHT by almost 50% and have cut costs massively by no longer having to ask questions.

Freespee has several implementations to allow predictive routing and context to be shown to agents, so regardless if your current solution in old or new, or if you want a new softphone solution, our team will be happy to help you.

Want to learn more about our sales acceleration features? Take a look here. Happy landings all.

Freespee Offline Conversion

Offline Conversion Import

With Freespee Offline Conversion you can visualise data that makes it easier for marketing and sales to understand exactly where revenue is coming from. 

Companies can accurately attribute revenue to leads by mapping all the steps of a customer’s journey. The closed-loop view helps identify missed conversions and put in place the mechanisms to recover lost revenue.

  • Assign expected value to missed opportunities based on historical data.
  • See which campaigns are driving revenue and which products are performing best. 
  • Connect all the touchpoints in the customer buying journey. 
  • Attribute sales revenue or other important milestones such as test drives, viewing bookings or candidate CVs to every lead.

Get perceptive insights into buyer behaviour and the performance of your sales and marketing processes.

See the monetary value of missed opportunities and find new opportunities for your business to grow.

Optimise sales by sending reconciled data to Google Analytics to understand which marketing campaigns drive revenue.

Close the loop in the customer buying journey with Freespee Offline Conversion.



Prebuilt integrations automatically send callers’ online journey and phone activity data from Freespee Platform to third party solutions in real time.

Over 40 plug-and-play integrations with leading marketing, reporting, and sales software solutions help companies collect the data they need on the customer journey to increase marketing efficiency and sales revenue.

What are the benefits of integrating your third party tools with Freespee?

Remove Data Silos In Your Business

Build consumer journey maps that are accessible from any of your decision making tools.

Increase Revenue And Sales Efficiency

Send your visitor’s contextual data into your sales and marketing tools in real-time.​

No Need For An IT Overhead

Automatically sync conversational buying signals and visitor data across third party tools.

Start integrating your third party tools with Freespee Platform data.