Speech Analytics Is Ready for Prime Time

By Donna Fluss

Post-call speech analytics is ready for prime time. Real-time speech analytics is an emerging solution that is highly compelling. Although the underlying technology for these two types of solutions can be the same, their uses are different.

Post-call speech analytics is a strategic enterprise application that companies should use to rapidly identify operational, procedural, technical, and staff-related issues, as well as to identify new revenue opportunities. Real-time speech analytics is a tactical application designed to alter the outcome of phone conversations while the caller is still on the line. This makes it a contact center tool that can be used to reduce risk and minimize bad customer experiences. As a result, it also becomes an effective coaching tool for agents.

Post-Call Speech Analytics Is Reaching Maturity: Speech analytics is the only application that can structure phone conversations to find insights and trends. The technology component of these solutions is the easy part of the implementation; the challenge is to figure out how to apply the findings. Speech analytics solutions are sophisticated tools that require highly trained resources to administer them in order to realize the expected benefits and return on investment. These solutions require ongoing care and oversight – tuning, searching, and filtering – to deliver targeted and effective findings. Then, once trends and insights are identified, companies need a formal process to share this information on a timely basis as a vehicle for driving change.

Not All Solutions Are Created Equal: There is a misconception in the market that most speech analytics solutions offer similar capabilities. Solutions designed to spot key words and phrases (which are the most common) cannot perform a forensic analysis and identify new trends, for example. Speech analytics packages built to address specific business issues that come with pre-defined lexicons (libraries), searches, reports, dashboards, and key performance indicators are different from those that come with a blank canvas where users have to build everything themselves. You should carefully evaluate the various solutions, keeping in mind that if you are getting it for free, there is probably a good reason why.

Speech Analytics Reduces Risk: From the beginning, speech analytics has been used to measure agent script adherence and ensure that agents are not saying inappropriate things to callers. But as governments and other agencies in countries around the world have introduced regulations to control the handling of sensitive customer credit card information, debt collections, sales, calls to mobile phones, etc., speech analytics has become a valuable tool for proving that a company is in compliance. Real-time speech analytics is also beginning to surface as a new capability for outbound solution providers who need to demonstrate compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

QA Gets an Overhau: Companies have been doing quality assurance (QA) the same way since this technology was introduced forty years ago. Analytics-enabled QA takes QA to a new level. Speech and text analytics can be used to identify calls, emails, social media interactions, and chats where agents do not follow departmental policies and guidelines. As long as a company can build a rule to check for certain things, speech and text analytics can find it (although there are still lots of things that speech and text analytics cannot catch). Given that most companies only check three to ten calls per agent per month, or just 1 to 3 percent of all calls, applying speech analytics to 100 percent of calls improves the odds of identifying behaviors that need to be changed, even if it does not catch everything.

It’s All About the Customer Journey: Companies are finally building multi-channel and cross-channel servicing environments. Companies need customer experience analytics to measure all customer touch points in the customer journey, and speech analytics vendors have jumped at the opportunity to deliver packaged solutions to address this need.

What to Expect in the Future: The speech analytics market has come a long way in a short time, and a great deal more is expected. Real-time speech analytics is in its infancy, but its potential is great, as it gives companies a new way of looking at and interacting with customers. More companies are going to integrate speech analytics with real-time guidance solutions to transform the way their staff handles customers.

Speech, text, and desktop analytics will be integrated with predictive analytics solutions and the output used to feed real-time guidance applications. More vendors are going to build customer experience analytics solutions that can capture and analyze customer behavior throughout their journey. It’s clear that speech analytics is useful on a stand-alone basis, but its value increases as it is integrated with other high-value applications and processes.

Donna Fluss is the founder of DMG, a vendor-independent research and consulting firm that analyzes contact center and back-office technology and best practices. For more information, contact Deborah Navarra at deborah.navarra@dmgconsult.com or 516-628-1098.

[From Connection Magazine Nov/Dec 2014]