Achieving Contact Center Goals with Speech Analytics

One of the biggest objectives for a contact center is understanding how to better serve your customers and meet their needs. So, how do you track what your customers want? Speech analytics is a great tool to get into the minds of your customers. This solution gives your organization access to key words, phrases and terms that are often used by customers during their call to your contact center. This then can give you the competitive edge your organization needs to improve your customer service skills.

How do you get started? Begin with Step 1: Form Your Analytics Team. Once you form your team, move on to:

Step 2: Define Information Needs.

The factors involved in defining information needs include:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Challenges
  • Values
  • Improvement cycles
  • Scope

Goals and Objectives

Begin by defining you organization’s top needs for customer interaction information and feedback through elicitation from stakeholders in departments across the organization.

Stakeholders must answer key questions about what information and insights are most important to their current and emerging management needs. What are the specific goals and objectives speech analytics can help them address?

Understanding the specific reasons why your customers are calling is a primary justification for applying speech analytics. To categorize and quantify callers and their issues is a second valuable reason.  Similarly, improving the customers’ experience and streamlining customer service rank high in the rationale for applying analytics.

Other objectives may include increasing consistency of customer service and messaging across departments at the desired quality, as well as discovering precise reasons for lost revenue and opportunities for increasing revenue by effecting customer buying decisions. And, analytics can be tuned to help you find resourceful and productive ways to do more with less.

Is monitoring customer interactions for call handling uniformity and ensuring agent adherence to the established standard important to your organization? Or is uncovering new market opportunities and gaining competitive advantage? And or all of these purposes, along with others specific to your organization’s mission and goals, underlie the justification for embracing analytics.

Speech analytics gives visibility into activities in the contact center and across the organization.


Common contact center challenges include identifying the various reasons for customer calls and confirming agents’ adherence to call handling standards. Analytics helps streamline procedures that give structure to the center’s daily operations. For example, analytics can identify reasons why certain calls are handled poorly by finding those that show awkward gaps in the interaction. Or, if the center has a first call resolution rate lower than normal, it can uncover the underlying reason(s), so staff can take appropriate actions.

The center’s challenges may be goals to achieve optimal average handle time (AHT) or to eliminate/reduce dropped calls. Perhaps improving the quality of customer satisfaction is critical. As is early detection of and response to marketplace issues. Is bringing agent utilization rate to match industry benchmark a key measure of performance for the organization? Is the need to improve the center’s average cost per contact handled? Are agents building and maintaining the organization’s brand? Analytics can help address and resolve such challenges, questions, goals and objectives.


What is the value of speech analytics to your enterprise? Speech analytics can help you uncover business intelligence that is critical to organizational performance, as well as quickly locate specific interactions or trends where performance improvements are most needed. By analyzing all of your center’s recorded interactions for key words, terms and phrases related to critical issues, speech analytics enables your team to quickly identify those calls that lack the standard performance elements. Supervisors can then use these outlier calls to coach and train the agents on proper call handling techniques.

Improvement Cycle

The continual process cycle for an analytics practice involves these tasks:

  1. Categorize types of calls
  2. Track reasons for calls
  3. Revise key words, terms and phrases
  4. Monitor daily performance
  5. Better understand performance
  6. Monitor emerging trends
  7. Uncover significance of trends
  8. Optimize center performance

What is your business case for adopting analytics? What will be the qualitative and quantitative benefits? Will there be a break-even or payback point? If so, when will it occur? Typically, a return on the investment is achieved within a year, perhaps even in six months. What is the expected return or the average rate of return for your organization’s size and operating scope?

Depending on the focus of an organization’s contact center, in-bound, out-bound or both, the calculation of return on investment differs. How should your center be measured? If your center is all in-bound call handling, you will find savings in efficiencies achieved and reduced expenditures. If you center performs out-bound selling, then you can add to efficiency savings contributions from sales revenue. The calculation is similar for centers that conduct both in- and out-bound calling.

Shall the project be measured by net present value, the sum of the value of the cash flows in and out of the project? Will it be measured by internal rate of return? Internal rate of return is the discount rate where the present value of cash inflows equals the initial investment. Will there be additional opportunities for using speech analytics? If so, the benefits continue to accrue. Does management have specific bottom-line contribution expectations for the analytics practice?


It is important to limit the scope of the initial speech analytics deployment to ensure successful adoption and outcomes. The analytics team should periodically ask if the analytics plan passes the SMART test, which is: Is the plan Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound?

When developing your speech analytics budget, a guideline of three to six months for implementation, including initial practice, anticipate up to six months of operation before break-even.

If necessary, provide staff with special training in generating and interpreting analytics reports, managing projects and conducting elicitation and communicating. Provide formal training to the staff that will lead roles in administering and tuning the speech analytics system going forward.