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Contact Centers Turn to Speech Analytics 

Contact Centers Turn to Speech Analytics

Contact Centers Turn to Speech Analytics

By Donna Fluss

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For years, speech analytics has been used worldwide by security organizations to help government agencies identify potential risks and threats. In the past two years, contact centers have begun to use speech analytics applications to capture and structure customer communications. The applications analyze the structured data to identify customer trends and insights for the purpose of improving service quality and customer satisfaction and generating new revenue.

There are three major outputs from speech analytics:

  1. Keyword or Key Phrase Identification –the speech analytics application identifies themes hidden in customer interactions. Some applications reflect only concepts and ideas “pre-identified” by the enterprise. Other systems will report on themes requested by the enterprise and also highlight high frequency phrases and topics.
  2. Emotion Detection – the application indicates if the customer/agent was happy or unhappy during the interaction. This will give an organization some idea of the customer’s satisfaction level. It will also allow the company to analyze the impact of pleasant and unpleasant agents upon customers.
  3. Talk Analysis – the system captures the impact of talking/silence patterns, such as agents putting customers on hold or representatives “talking over” customers during conversations. The application can measure the frequency of these activities.

Figure One: Speech Analytics Overview

Figure One: Speech Analytics Overview

Speech Analytics Benefits

Today, more than 95% of the customer communications that flow through contact centers go to waste because enterprises do not have tools for capturing, analyzing and using this information. The opportunity costs for companies are huge – customers are not shy about sharing their thoughts on product improvements, competitors and new product ideas. Customers also frequently tell contact center representatives about things they want to buy. And customers tell companies (the ones willing to listen) when they are unhappy and about to jump ship.

Agents sometimes try to pass this information on to their immediate supervisors, but even if they do, few contact centers have formal processes for making use of customer insights at all, no less on a timely basis. Besides, it’s one thing to reflect the thoughts of one or two customers, which is all an agent can do; it’s another to have a system that collects, analyzes and identifies a broad range of trends that impact the entire enterprise.

The potential benefits of speech analytics applications go far beyond the boundaries of the contact center. Structured data is valuable for all customer-facing departments, operations and even senior executives. Anyone interacting with customers needs to know what they want and need.

Speech Analytics Applications are Maturing

I’m not suggesting that speech analytics applications are perfect. They are, however, already good enough to make real and quantifiable contributions to corporations that invest in new technology, accompanied by a commitment to best practices. Speech analytics is an emerging technology and its recognition capabilities are still maturing. The accuracy of these applications improves as the size of the underlying data sets increases.

Speech Analytics Market

There are two categories of vendors selling speech analytics applications to contact centers. The first are the stand-alone vendors: CallMiner, Inc., Nexidia and Utopy. The second are quality management/liability recording vendors that have integrated speech analytics as a component of their suites. All of the vendors in the latter category are using technology developed by a third party. These vendors include: Dictaphone, Envision, etalk, Magnetic North, Mercom, NICE Systems, Verint Systems, Voice Print International, Inc. and Witness Systems.

The Future for Speech Analytics

During the next few years, speech analytics will play a critical role in opening up contact centers by structuring customer communications and sharing this enriched information with relevant decision makers throughout the enterprise. The projected payback from speech analytics is 6 to 9 months, but the benefits are far more than the sum of the financial gains. Enterprises that implement best practices to accompany their speech analytics initiatives will realize enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty, improved productivity and agent satisfaction and increased sales and profitability.

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