Speech Analytics: Tips to Calculating ROI

By Steve Morrell

As part of the research for ContactBabel’s new report, “The Inner Circle Guide to Speech Analytics,” thousands of contact center professionals were asked for their views on speech analytics, particularly about what holds them back from implementing it. By far the most important issue raised was how to build a strong enough return-on-investment (ROI) case to get the required corporate buy-in.

Significant portions of an organization’s budget are now held within the marketing, website, or customer experience teams, rather than at the contact center level. However, these teams must be made to understand that the contact center is a big part of people’s experience when dealing with a company. To get the most from a speech analytics solution, especially the more complex systems, businesses need to identify and empower a senior project champion who can oversee a cross-functional team. This champion must have a strategic view of what speech analytics can provide, as well as the ability to understand the operational and technical requirements of the contact center and IT teams.

ROI for speech analytics can come from numerous sources, depending upon how the solution is used. Generally, it will come from the avoidance of a specific cost (including the reduction of risk in the case of compliance) or an increase in revenue, despite the fact that much of the benefit from speech analytics comes from actionable insight around why customers are calling.

Speech analytics is used extensively in North America for compliance, for which ROI can be proven through the avoidance or reduction in litigation and regulatory fines when placed against the cost of the solution. In Europe, large UK banks have allocated funds that run into the tens of millions of pounds each year against the possibility of paying out, and any significant reduction in fines would pay for a speech analytics solution very quickly. In fact, the UK banking industry has additionally set aside several billion pounds to pay compensation for the improper selling of PPI (payment protection insurance), and having the ability to prove that no regulations had been broken would be of great use.

Variables to be considered for ROI measurements include:

Cost Reduction

  • Reduction in head count from automation of call monitoring and compliance checking
  • Avoidance of fines and damages for noncompliance
  • Reduction in call volumes after understanding why customers are calling and acting to optimize any broken processes elsewhere in the organization (such as websites, marketing, distribution, etc.) that are causing these calls
  • Reduction in cost of unnecessary callbacks after improving first-call resolution rates
  • Avoidance of live calls that can be handled by better IVR or website self-service
  • Reduced cost of quality assurance and monitoring
  • Lower cost-per-call through shortened handling times and fewer transfers
  • Lower new staff attrition rates and recruitment costs through early identification of specific training requirements

Revenue Increase

  • Increase in sales conversion rates and values based on dissemination of best practice
  • Increase in promise-to-pay ratios (debt collection)
  • Optimized marketing messages through instant customer evaluation
  • Reduced customer churn through dynamic screen-pop and real-time analytics that tailor calls to the customer
  • Quicker response to new competitor and pricing information

Also, the improved quality of agents, better complaint-handling, and improved business processes outside the contact center should be considered.

Implementation Costs

Against these potential positives, costs to consider include:

  • License fees or cost-per-call analyzed
  • IT costs to implement (both internal and external)
  • A possible required upgrade to call recording environment
  • Bandwidth needs if hosted off-site (the recording of calls is usually done on a customer’s site, so if the speech analytics solution is to be hosted, it will involve of lot of bandwidth, which will be an additional cost, especially when considering any redundancy)
  • Maintenance and support agreements, which may be 15-20 percent annually of the original licensing cost
  • Additional users – head count cost (decisions about who will own and use it and whether a speech analyst is needed, etc.)
  • Extra hardware, such as servers required for audio processing and analysis, the number of which is dependent on call volumes and customers’ expectations
  • Ongoing and additional training costs, if not included
  • Extra work across the enterprise generated by the analytics findings
  • Additional software to extract data from the call recording production environment if using different vendors for recording and speech analytics

Vendors’ own estimates of the time taken for the solution to pay for itself vary between six and eighteen months, with most current implementations having been in contact centers with over 100 seats. Apart from calculating figures for ROI, perhaps the most difficult element of the business case is to ensure that executives beyond the contact center understand and support the contact center’s role in enterprise success. Finance, marketing, IT, and senior management all must be talked to in terms they understand – customer retention, product satisfaction, revenue, and competitive metrics – in order to show that speech analytics is an effective way to give a window into these trends.

Ask your vendor to help you create an ROI to justify the project to the corporation effectively. Most vendors have tools that can be used to estimate return on investment, often based on what they have seen in similar operations elsewhere, and they are eager to share them with potential customers. Start with a project that you are comfortable managing from a cost and resource perspective to ensure that you can track and present an ROI. Once you’ve achieved those results, it will be easier to justify expanding the project into other areas.

Steve Morrell established ContactBabel, a contact center analyst firm, in 2000. Steve, an expert on the global contact center industry, has written over 200 reports on the future of technology, people, and business processes surrounding the contact center industry. This article is taken from ContactBabel’s “The Inner Circle Guide to Speech Analytics,” the first in a series of analyst reports investigating key customer contact solutions. The free reports are available for download from www.contactbabel.com.

[From Connection Magazine November 2011]

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