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Our First Round Table Event – DDC Discusses

The British Library hosted the inaugural DDC Discusses event on Tuesday, 15th November. In the exclusive Boardroom suite, a select group of CX specialists gathered to discuss the world of conversation analysis and what research in this field can add to – or challenge! – our understanding of what constitutes effective customer experience.

Keynote speaker Elizabeth Stokoe is currently a Professor of Social Interaction at Loughborough University. She conducts conversation analytic research to understand how talk works – from first dates to medical communication and from sales encounters to hostage negotiation*.

The State of the Art  

To get the ball rolling, the latest technology for conversation/speech analysis and sentiment analysis was analysed. Looking at actual demos and products in the market and considering the way in which many of them work “under the hood”, it quickly became apparent that replicating real conversations is a challenge, to say the least. The impact of conversations not accurately transcribed on sentiment analysis and beyond was very concerning.

Reduce the Burden  

Next, a dive into personal encounters we have all faced, where we are seeking help but must work for it. Often when the person we seek help from knows the answer and knows we would like help but insist on making us work for it. “Do you have Wi-Fi?” – “yes” – “OK, can guests use it?” – “yes” – “Ok, how do I access it!?”

Being proactive, offering alternatives, and providing relevant information where possible, seem simple, but it is surprising how often this can be overlooked. Reducing the burden is key to effective customer experiences.

Ditch the Script  

There’s typically a moment in every keynote where the whole room quickly scribbles something down; at this event, that was “rapport is an outcome”.  For many who have worked in a contact centre environment, you will have inevitably heard the term “build rapport”. Many have painstakingly continued to push a conversation about the weather before trying to sell double-glazing! It was fascinating to see the negative impacts of forced rapport. Whereas delivering value and clear communication often leads to natural rapport as an outcome.


Technology in the communications space is fascinating, particularly its applications in customer service, but before it becomes central to any business, have we yet taken all steps to use our skills as humans, to analyse our interactions sensibly? There is much value to unlock here, and when that value can be aligned with technology, the future will be very bright indeed.

In an event that covered so much, creating endless discussions, summarising is no easy task. To learn more, all you can do is attend future events!

Until Next Time  

DDC Discusses will return; if you’d like to register your interest, please email

*More information on Elizabeth Stokoe: She has worked as an industry fellow at SaaS companies Typeform and at Deployed. In addition to academic publishing, she is passionate about science communication, and has given talks at TED, New Scientist, Google, Microsoft, and The Royal Institution, and performed at Latitude and Cheltenham Science Festivals.


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