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Using conversation intelligence to transform your customer experience

17 min read
What is conversation intelligence and how does it empower you to take action on your business? Read on to see how this technology can transform your customer experience and improve your bottom line.

Author: Adam Bunker

Subject Matter Expert: James Skay

What is conversation intelligence?

Conversation intelligence software allows businesses to analyse vast quantities of speech and text data from customer-agent conversations using artificial intelligence (AI), creating insights to drive business action.

Support chat conversation analysis

By utilising machine learning and natural language, conversational intelligence can pinpoint keywords and topics in your customer interactions to give a more detailed picture of your customer experience as well as your employee experience. Data pulled from call and chat transcripts can help you see what customers value and where they feel improvements can be made.

Free guide: Reimagining omnichannel CX in the age of AI

What data can conversation intelligence analyse?

Conversation intelligence can be applied to vast swathes of data, but for customer experience, it’s best applied to:

  • Customer call data, such as sales calls or customer service call recordings
  • Chatbot transcripts
  • Social media customer service transcripts
  • Emails

From these sources of unstructured data, conversation intelligence can provide you with:

  • Transcriptions of calls
  • The key themes and keywords present in these conversations
  • Statistics on speech ratios, customer interactivity, and how long calls last
  • Insights into customer sentiment
  • Suggested actions to take

How is conversation intelligence different from call-tracking software?

Call tracking software can provide analysis on the format of your calls: when they’re made, for how long, from whom, and to which call centre. However, it can’t necessarily track why a customer has made contact, what they’re seeking to get out of the interaction – or how they feel about your business. That’s where conversational intelligence comes in.

The role of artificial intelligence in conversation intelligence

AI is fast cementing its place as a transformative tool in a huge range of industries, and that’s especially true in the world of customer intelligence.

AI is a fundamental part of any conversation intelligence solution because it’s only with natural language processing and automation that we can monitor and understand the sheer volume of interactions happening across every touchpoint.

Here, artificial intelligence is using language models and self-improving machine learning processes to apply meaning to each conversation, message, or social media post. That meaning is then automatically collated into a central hub, where input from every channel can be turned into insights that can help you improve customer satisfaction.

What’s the difference between conversational AI and conversation intelligence?

Conversational AI is the term given to an artificial intelligence system that can participate in customer interactions. If, for example, a customer uses a chatbot system to solve a problem or upgrade their subscription, then they’ll be using conversational AI to do that. Here, the AI will be able to understand what the customer says and reply quickly with relevant responses.

Conversation intelligence, on the other hand, sits in the background, ‘listens’ to or ‘reads’ conversations as they happen, and analyses their content in a way that can be used to improve the customer experience.

Why is conversation intelligence important?

There are several reasons why using conversation intelligence is important. We’ve outlined the most pertinent reasons below.

It improves conversions

Without insights into what your customers care about and what’s holding them back from making a purchase, you’re using guesswork to understand their motivations. Conversational intelligence allows you to derive meaningful insights from customer behaviour and how they respond to your marketing and sales efforts.

For example, how do customers respond to your cold calls? What do they bring up as the reason for turning down a sale? Which scripts worked, and which didn’t?

From a customer service perspective, what issue prevented them from being satisfied with a purchase (that could affect future purchases)? Were there customer journey problems that prevented customers from buying in the first place?

This type of data analysis gives you oversight into which areas of the customer journey need work and what the most common obstacles are for conversions, allowing you to take action to improve.

It enhances the customer experience

The best way to improve the customer experience is to get information about it in the customer’s voice. What do they care about? What do they contact you about the most? What appeals to them most in sales conversations?

Using the insights from the conversations you have with customers, you can change the customer experience. Are your customers fed up with your payment process? Do they find your website confusing? Are they looking for more information before they make a purchase? Are they more likely to make a purchase after a conversation?

Conversation intelligence example with sentiment analysis

Armed with this information, you can make adjustments to your customer experience. Not only that, but by using conversational intelligence over time, you’ll be able to see how these changes make a difference.

It provides you with in-depth customer research

Conversation intelligence can act as a sophisticated research tool, using data from the most important source: your customers. How do they feel about your products? What aspects work, and which don’t?

Using a conversation intelligence platform allows you to pull overarching themes and drill down on specific sentiments about the products or services your customers mention in their conversations. This allows your leaders to take action – either amending product or service lines or providing better information to avoid common issues.

It helps sales leaders

Businesses often analyse calls to judge their sales team’s efficacy. However, using human resources to understand what techniques are effective and which agents are performing well means you can only cover a small portion of the thousands of conversations businesses have with their customers.

Rather than analysing a snapshot of calls and chats that might not be truly representative of customer views and agent performance, conversational intelligence allows you to analyse every interaction and pull accurate insights from all the data available.

This helps your sales leaders to see what issues they’ll need to tackle most, and which scripts work best. This in turn improves their sales coaching and their team’s performance and streamlines the customer experience.

It increases customer loyalty and customer retention

When customers feel they’ve been heard, they are more likely to engage with your business. In our Global Consumer Trends 2022 report, we found that:

  • Two-thirds of consumers think that companies need to be better at listening to feedback
  • Over 60% of consumers believe businesses need to care more about them – and that they’d buy more if they felt more valued.

It’s clear that businesses that demonstrate that they hear customers’ concerns and listen to their feedback will come out on top. By investing in conversation intelligence software, you can gather not just the direct feedback provided by customers through surveys, but also the indirect conversations with your teams, comments on social media, mentions, and ratings on review sites.

By taking action on what matters, you can improve customer loyalty and retention.

What can the best conversation intelligence platforms do?

There are several options for conversation intelligence platforms out there, but not all of them have the same capabilities.

When searching for a tool, you’ll need to look out for the following features:

  • Can it analyse customer emotion, intent, and effort?
  • Can it identify opportunities for upselling or flag product issues?
  • Can it provide deeper detail for customer profiles based on their conversations with your brand?
  • Can it provide industry-specific insights?
  • Can it automate workflows to ensure your teams get the insights they need and know what actions they need to take?
  • Can it identify coaching opportunities for agents?

Which channels can leverage conversation intelligence?

Conversation intelligence powered by AI and natural language processing can help your business improve performance on a range of channels, across a few different settings:

Interaction feedback

Calls and chat

AI-powered conversation intelligence software can listen in on phone calls and understand how customers are feeling. That enables them to offer agents real-time prompts that can help customers feel listened to and understood.

Email and messaging

Similarly, if you can understand the intent, effort, and emotion being demonstrated in emails and live chats, you can better serve your customers. Conversation intelligence can help unpick customer interactions with an empathetic ear.

CRM and agent notes

Post-call work is time-consuming, and it keeps agents away from the work that really matters: handling customer issues. Conversation intelligence solutions can automate this work at scale, since they know what happened in each call, and what the outcome was.

Agent scoring

Conversation intelligence software can also tell how well your agents are performing, score them on compliance, empathy, and resolutions, and even spot coaching opportunities.

Online feedback

Reviews, blogs, and forums

Your customers aren’t just talking to you; they’re talking about you. With the right software, you can scour all these third-party interactions automatically, 24/7, and spot trends that can help you make improvements to your overall customer experience.

Social networks

Your conversation intelligence solution should also have an ear to the ground on every social platform to understand what customers really think about your brand. If not, you’ll be missing out on chances to course-correct pain points.

Digital journeys

The most powerful AI-powered customer intelligence tools don’t start and stop at listening – they also understand the journeys customers take between channels and can analyse them for actionable insights.

Survey feedback


If you’re running NPS and CSAT surveys, it’s much faster and more useful to have AI automatically scan every response, rather than to do so manually in samples. Conversation intelligence can look at the comments section of any survey and automatically surface trends and common opinions.

Operational data

Sales, services, and marketing

A conversation intelligence solution that forms part of a larger CX management suite can help feed customer interactions into the bigger picture, helping other departments like marketing and sales teams adjust their messaging based on what you learn about your customer needs.

How can you implement conversation intelligence across the business?

So how do you go about using conversation intelligence software to enhance your customer experience and improve your bottom line?

Below are a few use cases to help you see the benefit of using this type of software.

Find nuanced feedback and solve product issues

Sometimes, it’s hard for businesses to figure out the scale of a problem. With contact centres all over the globe and many teams working remotely with each other, it’s easy for data to get lost and large-scale themes to be missed. Using conversation AI to analyse all the data you can gather on what customers say means you can find out what’s going wrong and the scale of the problem to fix.

For example, if your customer service call centre logs an issue in a generic way – “the customer said product X was too hard to use” – this means you’re not getting to the nitty-gritty of what the problem is. You know there’s an issue, but you’re not sure how to go about fixing it with such a generic designation.

You also might find that customers are providing feedback on this problem, but as it’s not the main focus of their customer service call, the issue isn’t flagged on the scale it’s being experienced.

They’re telling you they want a refund, but in passing mention that it’s because they found the setup too difficult.

Combine this with fragmented data from different call centres, and you might find:

  • You don’t see the scale of the issue because of siloed data
  • You’re not seeing the scale of the problem because it’s mentioned in passing in conversations
  • You’re missing out on the nuanced detail of the problem because your call reps can only flag issues in a generic way

By analysing conversations, you can see which problems are at the core of customer dissatisfaction. You can transform generic insights from “it’s too hard to use” into “product X’s instructions aren’t clear enough for customers to use this product effectively”. The issue isn’t the product – it’s the explanation of how to use the product that causes customer headaches.

Finding this nuance means you can then set your production team to solve the actual problems that affect customers – thereby improving customer experience in the present and preventing issues in the future.

Get the full scope of customer feedback

Your customers might already be giving you feedback on their experiences via surveys such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES). However, this relies on customers being motivated enough to provide direct feedback, meaning you might be missing out on a large proportion of experience data.

By analyzing phone calls, chat logs, and more, you can see the full scope of customer feedback, both from what they give you directly and what they’re saying indirectly in conversations. You can analyse conversations for intent, effort, and emotion, meaning you’re able to get a deeper understanding of what drives your customers and take action to overcome objections in the future.

See how your sales team is performing

How can you distinguish your top-performing reps without putting an extra burden on your sales leaders? Using conversational AI, you can analyse the discussions your reps are having with customers for their efficacy in making a sale.

This type of analysis can uncover which scripts help with building rapport, and what conversation styles drive more deals. This in turn means sales managers can train new reps more effectively and create best practices for your team going forward.

Turn customer conversations into intelligence with Qualtrics®

Qualtrics XM® offers you unrivalled real-time insights from your customer conversations, turning customer insights into targeted action.

From automated insights and action triggers to in-depth and detailed customer profiles, use your conversations with your customers to drive revenue.

Create a frictionless customer experience that brings customers back time and time again with Qualtrics’ conversation intelligence tool, tried and tested across 150 industry models.

Conversation intelligence FAQs

What is conversation intelligence?

Conversation intelligence is a method for extracting valuable insights from the interactions your customers have with and about your brand. Specifically, it’s the act of monitoring conversations to glean things like emotion, effort, and intent, as well as trends that can be used as insights for improvement.

How does conversation intelligence work?

Conversation intelligence software uses artificial intelligence models to analyze conversations in real-time – whether they’re happening on the phone, via email, in text messages, or on third-party sites like review aggregators and social media platforms. These AI language models are trained on data that makes them able to understand the meaning behind each interaction.

What is conversation intelligence used for?

Brands use conversation intelligence tools to get a better understanding of customer sentiment, boost quality control efforts in their customer support, and help human agents perform to the best of their ability via real-time prompts and coaching.

How can I use conversation intelligence?

Conversation intelligence relies on customer experience management software imbued with AI and natural language processing. With the right software on your side, you’ll be able to collect data-driven insights that can help sales teams, marketing efforts, customer support agents, product development, and more make better-informed decisions about how to close experience gaps.

Free guide: Reimagining omnichannel CX in the age of AI