Speech Analytics: Changing the Game for Contact Center Technology

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shutterstock_157537763Speech Analytics allows customer support organizations to analyze audio of customer interactions for mentions of keywords or phrases, call themes, as well as the sentiment and emotions of callers. In the past, organizations have relied on humans (i.e., agents and employees) to listen and score calls and conduct this type of analysis. The highly manual nature of this process has meant the scope has been limited to small samples of overall call volume.

Speech Analytics has been a game-changer in this regard, allowing complete and in-depth analysis of 100% of customer interactions without the need for hiring a gigantic call Quality Assurance (QA) staff. For that reason, Speech Analytics software and processes have been gradually picking up steam in the contact center industry for the better part of a decade. Despite this, many contact centers are still struggling to find practical uses, and/or measure the ROI of the technology.

You Still Need Analysts

One reason for the struggle with Speech Analytics is a lack of in-house analytical talent. While this type of software does provide some out-of-the-box reporting, the real benefit comes from people with intimate knowledge of your operations who are able to discern specific actionable insights not always found in the standard reporting. Similar to Big Data and other advancements in business intelligence, the data on its own is virtually useless if you don’t know what to do with it. Analysts are able to find valuable intelligence among the minutiae and use that to create insights that drive your business forward.

Organizational Inertia

In most large companies, once you get the ball rolling in a certain direction it’s a difficult and slow process to get that direction changed. A number of factors come into play such as difficulty of change at scale, complacency, personal pride or emotional ties, overvaluing of anecdotal evidence, and a general desire to avoid change. Many analysts can tell you of times they’ve compiled mountains of data supporting an assertion or course of action, only to rebuffed by the organizational inertia to maintain the status quo. In the face of data that doesn’t fly with leaders’ personal beliefs, many companies will reject the data. It’s one thing for a company to be a vocal proponent of data and analytics, it can be quite another to act on that information.

Customer Experience is a BIG Puzzle

When you dump all the pieces out of the box you probably group all the edge pieces first, then the rest by color or pattern. While you get value from putting together all the like pieces, the full picture often isn’t revealed until you put those completed sections together. Much in the same way, in a multi-channel customer service landscape the tendency is to group and analyze all the like things together. It’s relatively painless to group and analyze the calls, the chats, the emails, and the social interactions separately. On their own, these processes all have inherent significance, but putting them together to see the whole picture often reveals much deeper insight.

Many companies have a patchwork of standalone software from many different providers, which can make it difficult to get the data from each source to play nicely together. Making all of the information available to analysts can be a headache for small or under resourced tech departments. With this in mind, it’s easy to see the value of modern contact center software all-in-one packages. They are designed from the ground up to natively provide the integrations you need and that will allow you to see the full picture without going through the time and resource-intensive processes of putting the pieces together yourself. They also come with the added benefit of an integrated CRM to make this multi-channel insight available in real-time to the people on front lines of customer support.

Inability to Show or Measure ROI

In terms of financials, there are many avenues to consider in the ROI calculations for Speech Analytics. Make sure to set benchmarks first so you’ll have a number to which results can be compared. There are many ways Speech Analytics can have a financial impact by reducing current costs. Some of these include reduction in QA staffing, non-compliance and fraud costs, and call volume (through increased first call resolution). You can also identify opportunities for process improvement and ways to lower call volume by proactively offering solutions like self-service. Speech Analytics can also drive revenue through optimized marketing, sales conversions, identifying additional customer needs, and reducing customer churn.

While it is not impossible to calculate and demonstrate the ROI of speech analytics, it can be difficult. As you work to gain adoption, one approach is to consider the opportunity cost of NOT deploying it in your own center. Your competition is definitely using Speech Analytics. What insights and competitive intelligence do they have access to that you are missing out on? What is that costing you in terms of both KPIs and lost customers?

If you’re having difficulty selling your leadership team on Speech Analytics, it may be beneficial to ask a vendor for help. Their experience in delivering the solution in a wide variety of contact center operations puts them in an ideal position to help justify your investment. They might even uncover additional ROI opportunities that you hadn’t considered.