By Donna Fluss
Interaction analytics (IA) removes the mystery from customer conversations. It gives companies access into what customers are “talking” (or writing) about and, specifically, insights into their needs and wants. These increasingly sophisticated analytics solutions have evolved from basic keyword search applications that helped companies understand call reasons to advanced business intelligence (BI) offerings that provide insights and an appreciation of customer sentiment.
The more advanced IA offerings have expanded their capabilities and benefits far beyond their initial contact center audience but are struggling to demonstrate their value to customer experience (CX) executives who continue to concentrate on marketing and sales functions.
Breakthroughs in the underlying natural language processing technology, along with powerful cloud-based processing capabilities, have improved the transcription accuracy, conversational comprehension, and overall business value of IA solutions. Interaction analytics capabilities are now finding their way into many third-party systems, including cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, voice-of-the-customer (VoC) offerings, and BI applications.
And due to technical and operational innovations, many IA vendors are replacing their transcription engines with newer and more effective ones that improve the effectiveness of their own offerings. Improvements in processing speed and accuracy are also making it possible for real-time IA solutions in contact centers to deliver alerts and real-time guidance that empower agents to deliver a better and more personalized customer experience.
Broader Use Cases for IA
The advancements in IA solutions are attracting new buyers and partners, driving a much-needed replacement cycle for these solutions. Helping this development is the increased adoption of digital channels, which is opening new opportunities by expanding the uses and contributions of IA. Then there are the broader enterprise applications of IA: to identify new product opportunities, at-risk customers, legal risks, and the potential for fraud, just to mention a few.
IA solutions can provide executives with insights into the reasons customers reach out and ask for help. To date, most companies apply IA primarily in their contact centers, as this is the source of the recordings and digital transactions that these solutions analyze. However, as contact centers receive feedback about departments, policies, and systems from all over an enterprise, IA can provide useful insights about many aspects of a company.
DMG expects analytics-enabled quality management (AQM) to be one of the “next big things” in the IA market. Analytics-enabled QM has been talked about for at least twelve years and has been available to some degree for ten of them. But it’s only in the last eighteen months that AQM solutions are seeing significant adoption, due to innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
The market is beginning to transition from traditional QM to AQM, and DMG expects this trend to pick up momentum in the next few years, as there are proven benefits and substantial cost savings from making the switch.
Real-time guidance is another important and emerging use for IA solutions. A real-time speech analytics solution listens to (or reads) what customers are saying/writing in real time and uses this information to guide agents in how to best help customers. While real-time IA capabilities are just finding their way into the market, they have enormous potential and should be adopted as part of an enterprise digital transformation.
Real-time guidance is clearly useful in enabling contact center agents to personalize a service experience, but it can be at least as helpful during sales, marketing, and collections interactions.
Transformational Benefits of IA
The current generation of IA offerings are transformational tools that use AI to provide passive VoC findings and insights, minimizing the need to survey customers frequently. Note that there are still legitimate marketing reasons for companies to reach out to their customers to solicit their opinions in specific situations or about products and services.
The more advanced IA solutions come with customer journey analytics (CJA) capabilities that provide omnichannel insights into each customer’s experience as they traverse an organization and pivot between channels. While emerging CJA capabilities are still under development, IA solutions are the most effective tool available in most enterprises for identifying issues and bottlenecks that prevent companies from delivering the outstanding experience their customers expect and, in doing so, decreasing servicing costs.
Calls remain the primary use for IA solutions, but more organizations are starting to apply IA to text-based interactions, which is a necessity now that digital customer service has grown in importance. As digital support is still in its early days in many organizations, gaining timely insights into how it’s used and its challenges is helpful for companies that want to deliver an outstanding customer experience, cost effectively.
Interaction analytics has made substantial progress in the past eighteen months, but there is still a great deal of work needed before IA will be accepted and adopted as an enterprise BI solution. Until this happens, the sector’s total addressable market will be limited to the approximately 22 million contact center seats in organizations worldwide.
Applying IA solutions to improve the performance of contact centers is valuable and will result in a payback within 2–3 years, when used properly. However, the contributions of IA will grow substantially and rapidly when these solutions are applied as customer experience BI tools and used to understand and improve the customer journey.
To learn more about the interaction analytics market and for help in selecting the ideal IA solution for your company, see DMG’s newly released evaluation of this sector and vendors, the 2021–2022 Interaction Analytics Product and Market Report.
Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.