Quality & Recording Solutions Keep Getting Better
Quality & Recording Solutions Keep Getting Better
By Donna Fluss
Call Center Magazine
2005 was a great year for the quality monitoring (QM) and liability recording suite market and 2006 is looking even better. Market growth is being driven by three primary factors:
- Strength of the economies in the U.S. and abroad;
- Willingness of companies to invest in (or refresh) these solutions to improve the customer experience and to better understand customer needs (analytics); and
- Product innovation that is improving contact center productivity and effectiveness and contributing to quality improvements.
What’s Driving Sales?
For the first time since the introduction of quality assurance (QA) applications, some vendors are enhancing their fundamental QA capabilities by making workflow automation and analytics available. Workflow is being used to automate manual activities, such as filling in basic agent and customer information to enhance the productivity of the quality management staff.
Sales of VoIP recording ports more than doubled from 2004 to 2005 and are growing more quickly in 2006. This is being driven by sales to large contact centers as well as many small businesses, such as professional offices (e.g., doctors and lawyers) that find this a cost effective way to reduce risk. Growth was also fueled by sales of newer applications, including performance management, speech analytics, surveying, coaching and e-learning.
Contact centers that use QM/recording solutions for the traditional purpose of reducing liability risks, measuring compliance and evaluating agent performance are expected to realize significant benefits and a return on investment (ROI) of 9 to 12 months. As many of these applications have been greatly improved in the last three years, any company that hasn’t upgraded its system since 2003 should take the time to evaluate the benefits of the newer applications.
While there have been improvements in the core elements of QM/recording suites, even greater benefits can be realized from the newer add-on modules.
During the past few years, leading QM/recording solutions have been expanded to address many of the management needs of contact centers. QM/recording suites frequently include the following non-traditional modules:
- Performance management – scorecards and dashboards that align the objectives of the contact center with the goals of the company. Scorecards can be developed for agents, teams, groups, centers, sales, marketing and the executive suite.
- Speech analytics – applications designed to structure unstructured conversations (and, in the future, other transaction types, like e-mail) so that customer insights can be captured and analyzed.
- Analytics – online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities that allow an organization to islice and dicei data collected from the quality management and recording system, automatic call distributor (ACD) and CTI events.
- Surveying – IVR, e-mail and Web-based systems that survey customer satisfaction.
- Coaching – tools for rapidly creating and deploying coaching sessions, communications or best practices for agents.
- e-learning – learning management systems that can be used to author, deliver and manage training programs based on the results of quality management evaluations or departmental needs.
- Screen auditing/back office – agent monitoring of back office functions, initiated by events on a screen, not by a phone call.
- Workflow automation – to automate manual processes.
Where Do The Pieces Fit?
Three of the QM/recording vendors, Envision, NICE and Witness, now have a contact center workforce management (WFM) solution as part of their suites. Envision was the first of the QM/recording vendors to offer WFM. It built its own application and came to market with it in 2004. Witness entered the workforce management market by acquiring Blue Pumpkin in 2005. NICE entered by acquiring IEX in 2006.
The entrance of QM/recording vendors has helped to wake up the traditionally slower-paced WFM market. It has also created more aggressive vendors and price competition. DMG Consulting expects to see more acquisitions of WFM vendors during the next 12 to 24 months, as these previously separate markets continue to consolidate.
Quality assurance capabilities vary greatly between vendors. The market leaders and a number of smaller players have finally gotten it right (or are close) by delivering 100% browser-based applications, encompassing the QA evaluation environment and administration. Making these systems browser-based increases flexibility of these applications and enables contact center managers to involve other departments, such as sales and marketing.
Vendors are making progress in delivering a QM/recording suite with a single administration environment for all functional components, including those that have been acquired or are partner solutions. This is important, as it gives end-user organizations a more complete view of customer service performance. For example, when QM and surveying functionality are integrated, QM evaluates how well agents adhere to internal policies and procedures and surveying measures the impact of the company’s business approach on its customers. The suites will also simplify reporting and reduce the total cost of ownership of the applications.
The Competitive Landscape
The competitive landscape for the QM/recording market continues to be fluid, despite the maturity of the recording solutions business. The three leading vendors, NICE, Witness and Verint, own a dominant 78.7% of the market. (With Verint’s July 2006 acquisition of Mercom, this increases to 81.2%.) Etalk is in fourth place with 4.1% of the market. The rest of the market is shared by many other vendors, including Envision, HigherGround, VirtualLogger, Voice Print, and Wygant Scientific.
New vendors continue to enter the market, both stand-alone competitors and vendors who are adding these capabilities to their existing platforms, like the contact center infrastructure vendors. In the last 18 months, four new offerings have been released. CallCopy, a stand-alone QM/recording vendor, went GA with its flagship recording and QM product in July 2005; Interactive Intelligence, a provider of contact center automation software, went GA with an enhanced QM/recording offering in December 2005. Nortel came to market in July 2006 with its contact recording and quality monitoring solution. Spanlink, a Cisco technology partner, went GA with its quality management product in Q1 2006.
There are a large number of R&D dollars being invested into these solutions. R&D investments ranged from 10% to 40% of revenue in 2005 and this pattern has continued during 2006. This is a very high rate for a 20-year-old market, but the investments are in large part a response to the growing needs of end-user organizations that are asking QM/recording vendors for new and enhanced functionality.
Vendor investments fall into two primary areas: vendors who are adding features to catch up to leaders and those who are extending the value of these applications. The leading QM/recording vendors are investing heavily in analytics and performance management in an attempt to sell beyond the boundaries of the contact center. While it’s taking time, there is a good chance that within the next three years, sales and marketing organizations will appreciate the great value that speech analytics systems can make to their goals.
During the last few months leading end-user organizations have been asking vendors for enhancements to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the QA process. Supervisors and reviewers want applications to automate many of the activities that do not require human cognition. Using a combination of workflow and speech analytics, vendors are expected to deliver enhancements in this area during the next two years.
The QM/recording market is growing because of the significant benefits these solutions make to enterprises when they are implemented and used properly. During the past three years, QM/recording vendors have added many tools and capabilities to their suites that improve productivity of contact center staff (agents, supervisors and managers), the effectiveness of the contact center and the overall customer experience. End users making a selection (whether purchasing a first formal QM/recording system or upgrading an existing application) have a lot of good choices.
Core Elements of QM/Recording Suites
The core elements and capabilities of comprehensive QM/recording suites are:
- 100% recording, advanced retrieval and playback features
- Ability to record voice and screens simultaneously
- Capacity to handle multi-channel – voice, e-mail, chat and collaboration – sessions
- Computer telephony integration (CTI)
- Software for evaluating and analyzing agent performance and trends
- Reporting (standard and ad hoc)
- Application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) to facilitate integration to customer relationship management (CRM) and other servicing applications
- A single standardized platform (technology stack) for the entire suite
- Maintaining one copy of recorded calls
- Support for TDM and IP recording in a single interface
- A portal-based framework for delivering information to stakeholders (new in 2005)
- Scorecards and dashboards
- Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA, new in 2006)
QM/recording solutions are increasingly viewed as analytics suites. To support the needs of the contact center and, in the future, other constituencies within the enterprise, a portal-based framework is becoming a requirement.
To learn more about leading and contending offerings in the QM/recording market, see DMG Consulting’s 2006 — 2007 QM/Recording Product and Market Report, available at https://www.dmgconsult.com or 516-628-1098.