The QM/Recording Market Looks Bright
The QM/Recording Market Looks Bright
By Donna Fluss
The QM/recording market is poised to have its best year ever in 2006, as vendors are putting a substantial portion of revenue toward research and development and users are buying at a brisk pace. Investment dollars are being used to extend the value of QM/recording solutions, as well as to add new features to existing suites. As a result, end-users have a lot of good choices when selecting an application, whether for the first time or as an upgrade.
A number of factors are driving the surge in QM/recording sales. Strong economies in the United States and abroad have contributed to market expansion. Investments in QM/recording suites have also increased because of companies’ willingness to initiate or refresh these solutions to enhance the customer experience. A third trend driving the market’s anticipated record sales is VoIP recording, sales of which more than doubled from 2004 to 2005; the market for these products is well on its way to exceeding these results in 2006.
Another growth driver is the tremendous product innovation that has resulted in improved contact center productivity, effectiveness and service quality. During 2006, QM/recording vendors have begun to enhance their products’ quality assurance (QA) features, with the addition of workflow automation and analytics. This will contribute to contact center productivity by minimizing the need for agents to manually input basic information, such as the date, time, customer name and account number as well as their own names. Even more innovation is planned for 2007.
The market has expanded, as the reach of QM/recording solutions has begun to extend beyond contact centers into other areas of the enterprise, including sales, marketing and operations. The expansion is being driven by sales of several innovative modules. Speech analytics applications are used primarily to find the root cause of calls. Contact center performance management modules help to align the goals of the contact center with the executive suite and other departments, as well as to produce scorecards measuring the adherence of agents, teams, sites and the overall center to departmental and corporate objectives. Additionally, smaller businesses, such as doctors’ offices and law firms, are discovering the benefits of recording, viewing it as a cost-effective way to minimize risk and liability exposure.
The core components of QM/recording suites have been enhanced during the past few years. The market has seen significant improvements in fundamental quality assurance modules, making them easier to use and making them web-based. Core system capabilities have been expanded to include a portal framework to facilitate data sharing and scorecards and dashboards (even when a full performance management module is not available).
In 2006, QM/recording vendors have begun to move in the direction of services oriented architecture (SOA). While this will take a number of years to deliver, it’s important that the leading vendors recognize SOA as an important direction for the future.
Here are some of the core components of 2006 QM/Recording solutions:
- One hundred percent recording, advanced retrieval and playback features
- The ability to record voice and screens simultaneously
- The capacity to handle multi-channelvoice, email, chat and collaboration–sessions
- Computer telephony integration
- Software for evaluating and analyzing agent performance and trends
- Reporting (standard and ad hoc)
- Application programming interfaces and software development tool kits to facilitate integration to CRM and other servicing applications
- A single standardized platform (technology stack) for the entire suite
- The ability to maintain 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
- Services Oriented Architecture (new in 2006)
Add-on modules to core QM/recording capabilities have started to see serious market acceptance during 2006. These modules are:
- Contact center performance management. These include 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. These modules need to integrate with all enterprise systems that are involved in or support the contact center.
- Speech analytics. These applications are designed to structure unstructured conversations (and, in the future, other transaction types, like email) so that customer insights can be captured and analyzed.
- Analytics. Online analytical processing (OLAP) capabilities allow an organization to “slice and dice” data collected from the quality management and recording system, automatic call distributor (ACD) and CTI events.
- Surveying. These include IVR, email and web-based systems that survey customer satisfaction.
- Coaching. These are tools for rapidly creating and deploying coaching sessions, communications or best practices for agents.
- E-learning. These are 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. This is agent monitoring of back-office functions, initiated by events on a screen and not by a phone call.
- Workforce management (WFM). This is a contact center management tool that can enhance the benefits of QM applications.
Sophisticated workflow is a new entrant into the world of QM/recording in 2006. Most QM/recording suites have included basic workflow capabilities in the past, but now these features are being enhanced to improve the productivity and quality of supervisors and QA specialists by automating tasks that do not require cognitive thinking. Additionally, leading vendors are combining the power of workflow automation with speech analytics to assist end users in identifying calls and tasks that require attention. Expect to see continued enhancements in this area during the next two years.
One area where the QM/recording market is challenged is its name. With the introduction of so many high-value applications, “QM/Recording” is no longer either an adequate or an appropriate description of these products. Workforce optimization is a newer title used by some vendors to describe these suites, but it has such a negative connotation that it’s difficult for many end-users to accept. With this in mind, who wants to be optimized? Because the market is increasingly analytics-oriented, the solutions could be called customer analytics suites. However, many consider this too passive. Operational customer analytics (OCA) is another optionand maybe the best at the momentbut it doesn’t seem catchy enough.
The future looks bright for the market. What we need now is a good name.