The Balto Real-Time Index


The Balto Real-Time Index provides an industry-level view of call trends and in-depth analysis from Balto’s in-house research team, the Conversation Excellence Lab. The Balto Real-Time Index is based on data from Balto’s 140m+ calls.


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Overview & Methodology
B2B Tech
Collections
Health Insurance
Home Improvement
Property & Casualty Ins
Retail
Utilities

Home Improvement

In a sales-driven environment, a looming economic downturn is daunting — especially for consumers hoping to conserve their home value. As consumers look to tighten budgets, “Not Interested” objections could become even more common. Home Improvement sales teams can weather the storm by emphasizing personal connections with sales leads and adopting a “we understand” approach to build rapport (the most underutilized skill this quarter). Prioritize establishing rapport as you help consumers understand what they can gain from your services and how it could help them during tough times.

Figure 1: Hardest Objections to Overcome in Home Improvement

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 10 Objections in Home Improvement

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in Home Improvement

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized Skills in Home Improvement

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Healthcare Insurance

In the past quarter, we’ve seen a lot of consumers call their insurance companies to cancel their plans or discuss how they’ve felt misled. There are strategies to save these customers on the call, but we also recommend turning an eye towards customer education: if your customers know exactly what they’re getting up front, they’re less likely to feel misled, and less likely to cancel in turn. Consider ways you can build customer education into your agents workflows through email follow ups, customer FAQ sites, benefit pamphlets, and more.

Figure 1: Hardest Objections to Overcome in Health Insurance

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 8 Objections in Health Insurance

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in Health Insurance

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized Skills in Health Insurance

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

B2B Tech

Cold-calling can be tricky. According to our data, the hardest objections for agents to overcome in the B2B Tech sphere was a three-way tie between “Call Me Back”, “Send Me The Info”, and “I’m Busy”. If your call isn’t received well, what’s the best way to save the lead? We suggest responding with a suggestion for a different time to check in, like: “It sounds like it’s not a good time, would today at three or tomorrow morning work for you?” Get that confirmation and buy-in upfront. 

Figure 1: Hardest Objections to Overcome in B2B Tech

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 10 Objections in B2B Tech

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in B2B Tech

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized B2B Tech Skills

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Property & Casualty Insurance

Let’s look at one of the most common objections in the Property & Casualty Insurance industry: “Why did you call me.” This statement shouldn’t be a death sentence, but rather an opportunity to educate customers and build trust. When responding to this objection, keep it simple and encourage agents to use consumer- and “we”-focused language to improve their most underutilized soft skill: building rapport.

Figure 1: Hardest Objections to Overcome in Property & Casualty Insurance

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 10 Objections in Property & Casualty Insurance

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in Property & Casualty Insurance

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized Skills in Property & Casualty Insurance

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Retail

With growing threats of an economic recession and high inflation rates, retail spending is likely to slow in the coming months and objections like “Busy” and “Not Interested” are going to be even tougher to overcome. Now is a great time to start emphasizing some underutilized skills, like active listening and establishing credibility, to help build trust with consumers. At the same time, continue encouraging agents to lead with respect and take a proactive approach toward helping consumers resolve their issues. 

Figure 1: Hardest Objections to Overcome in Retail

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 10 Objections in Retail

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in Retail

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized Skills in Retail

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Utilities

When it comes to Utilities, the least used soft skill was “active listening”, which our language models measure as times when an agent confirms or clarifies a caller’s main point. This could look like saying “It sounds like what you’re saying is…” or “So, to reiterate your problem… ”. What these questions achieve is: 1) they let a customer know you’re really paying attention, and 2) they make sure you’re not solving the wrong problem. Consider incorporating active listening and questions into your agents’ talk tracks. 

Please note: We’re gathering more data to surface the hardest objections to overcome for you in our next release.

Figure 1: Top 10 Objections in Utilities

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 2: Top 5 Soft Skills in Utilities

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 3: Most Underutilized Skills in Utilities

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Collections

What does proactivity look like in a Collections environment? Our language models listen for times when an agent assertively proposes the next step for a customer; statements like “How about we…” and “I think the next step here is… “ would both fall under that umbrella. Things like proposing a payment plan or scheduling another time to check in would display high proactivity in your agents. Consider coaching on this underutilized skill. 

Figure 1: Hardest Stalls to Overcome in Collections

A smaller percentage indicates an agent was less likely to overcome the objection

Figure 2: Top 10 Stalls in Collections

A higher percentage indicates an objection was more likely to occur during a call

Figure 3: Top 5 Soft Skills in Collections

All percentages over 100% in the graphs below represent call events that occurred more than once on average during a given call.

A higher percentage indicates a soft skill was more likely to be used during a call

Figure 4: Most Underutilized Skills in Collections

A lower percentage indicates a soft skill was less likely to be used during a call

Overview

The first edition of the The Balto Real-Time Index focuses on the most common consumer objections, the most difficult objections to overcome, and the most- and least-utilized soft skills agents use on calls.

In nearly 2/3 of industries analyzed, “Busy” was one of the hardest objections to overcome. The only industries immune from this objection were Healthcare Insurance and Collections. Similarly, “Not Interested” was one of the most common objections for 5/7 industries. Getting a customer or lead to pick up the phone might be difficult, but getting them to stay on the phone seems to be just as hard. Take a look at our guide to overcoming objections for practical tips on keeping customers engaged.  

Active listening was one of the most underutilized soft skills for all industries across the board. What is active listening, exactly? Our language models identify it as instances when an agent confirms or clarifies the customer’s main point. Phrases like “so it sounds like you’re saying…” and “If I understand correctly…” let a customer or lead know that you’re listening, and you are there to help. Active listening is also integral for de-escalating calls that get out of hand. 

Interestingly, even though active listening was underutilized, question-asking was in the top 5 soft skills for all industries. It seems that agents are asking questions — like “who am I speaking with today?” and “can you confirm your email address?” — but these questions are not geared towards establishing rapport or trust with the customer. Encourage your agents to include components of active listening into their conversations for higher customer satisfaction outcomes. Chances are, your agents will also appreciate this chance to improvise

What’s next?

In upcoming updates to the index, you can expect more data for the utilities industry as well as trends for the financial services industry, among other updates. We’re most excited to be able to bring you trends over time on a quarterly and yearly basis. With the number of calls Balto facilitates in a given day, we’ll soon be able to not only surface key customers trends and patterns to you, but predict them in advance.

Bookmark this page for future updates. If you have any questions about our insights or methodology, or would like to cite The Balto Real-Time Index, please reach out to our research team at cel@baltosoftware.com. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Best,

Conversation Excellence Lab

Methodology

The Balto Real-Time Index is updated once per quarter by Balto’s research and data analysis department, the Conversation Excellence Lab. The raw data for the index is derived from the over 140m+ calls conducted using Balto’s software. The data is processed through machine learning and natural language processing models trained to identify call events, like soft skills and objections. We then aggregate the data into industry-specific categories to deliver trends and insights via the Index. The data subset for this edition of The Balto Real-Time Index is representative of trends between May – July 2022. 

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