This article originally appeared in the Nov. 2012 issue of CUSTOMER
Speech analytics is a complex, sophisticated and frequently pricey application that purports to offer great results in terms of contact center performance and a better customer experience. And recent research shows speech analytics is gaining traction in contact centers. According to DMG Consulting, the market has grown to over 3,000 implementations in 2011 from a base of approximately 25 in 2004. So what problems are organizations tackling with speech analytics?
While organizations deploy speech analytics for many reasons, it’s becoming clear that there are two clear winners for speech analytics in contact centers – trend analysis (to determine why customers are calling) and to improve agent performance.
Walk in Your Customers’ Shoes
The core power of speech analytics is its ability to provide the data that senior executives want to enable data-driven decisions. In the past, management was limited to data from surveys and the results of quality monitoring. With speech analytics businesses can understand what callers are saying to contact center agents.
By categorizing and analyzing every call coming into the contact center using customers’ own words, speech analytics provides a powerful tool to affect change throughout the enterprise. Today, companies are using speech analytics to find broken processes across the enterprise (e.g., product delivery promises that are not fulfilled, website password reset processes that drive calls into the contact center, paper scanning process that make it difficult to find documents); determine what customers are at risk of leaving; understand how their products or services stack up against the competition (e.g., your Product X is perceived as more expensive than competitors Product Y); and find additional opportunities for automation (e.g., additions to the website, new mobile apps).
The most successful implementations use speech analytics as a cross-organizational tool, making data available well beyond the contact center. Marketing, product development and other organizations should be part of a cross-functional team that share the data. The speech analytics team needs to be empowered to go after the root cause of problems that surface in the contact center but may be the result of broken processes in other parts of the organization.
Improving Agent Performance
The second key use of speech analytics is to improve agent performance. Without speech analytics, quality monitoring is an extremely labor-intensive operation and in most cases, only a small percentage of calls are analyzed due to the limitations of quality monitoring resources in the center. Speech analytics can monitor 100 percent of calls, flagging the ones that need human intervention. Among the capabilities speech analytics provides in terms of improving agent performance are the ability to understand the level of engagement agents have with customers (e.g., does the agent respond to the caller as a human being, for example, offering condolences to a caller redeeming a life insurance policy); monitor compliance to scripts (e.g., did the agent follow the recommended call outline); improve call handling practices (e.g., determine which sales approaches are most successful); understand what agents need training on what topics (e.g., did the agent provide the correct information to the caller); and increase the amount of time supervisors spend coaching vs. listening to random calls that lack sufficient information for true scoring.
Keys to Success
Speech analytics can be a powerful tool for an organization. But it takes careful planning and focus to get maximum benefit from it. If you are considering deploying speech analytics get senior executive support for a cross-functional team (e.g., contact center, marketing, product development) to determine requirements, select the vendor and use the system to improve the customer experience across the enterprise; develop specific goals for the system, as these will help define requirements; select a vendor; pilot the system; tune the queries; and, most importantly, empower the speech analytics team to attack root causes across the organization.
When used strategically, speech analytics enables us to move beyond the raw data to examine costs and opportunities. It lets us paint a picture of the customer experience that exposes the need for process and other changes through root cause analysis. It provides the type of information needed to make data driven decisions.
Lisa Stockberger is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in customer contact, including contact center processes, operations and technology.
Edited by Brooke Neuman