Speech Analytics: Applying the KISS Principle Gives Contact Center Managers Something to Smile About

Guest Post by Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst of Jamison Consulting

In a recent Interactive Intelligence blog, the company’s chief marketing officer, Joe Staples, makes the point that speech analytics adoption has been hampered by being too pricey and complex. Contact center managers continue to investigate it, however, because it also has the potential to provide significant benefits.
To find out how contact center managers can avoid costly and complex speech analytics deployments, while getting the most from these solutions, I talked to Matt Taylor, director of product management at Interactive Intelligence.

Nancy: How do contact centers determine if they are a good candidate for a speech analytics deployment?

Matt: The right speech analytics solution enables contact center managers to do what they can’t do manually — monitor and listen to every call, then immediately zero in on the most critical ones so they can head off problems, or in positive cases, show off what other agents should emulate.

This need is summed up by the following paraphrase echoed to me by a multitude of contact center managers over the years: “I need to find the relevant interaction outliers so I don’t waste time monitoring the wrong set of calls, or risk getting an unclear, old, or skewed picture of what’s happening between my agents and customers.”

So really speech analytics is useful for virtually any contact center that is interested in improving customer service, compliance, quality management, or training. Contact centers with hundreds to thousands of calls a day, and especially those governed by stringent regulatory requirements — such as financial services, healthcare and collections — are especially good candidates.

Nancy: Speech analytics can be used to mine customer interactions using recorded “historical” or real-time data. What are the benefits of using each?

Matt: Historically-based speech analytics solutions are good for spotting trends and addressing training issues. In telco or retail, for example, new products, offers, or pricing are tested on a regional basis. Using speech analytics to track competitor names or related phrases gives managers visibility into what a competitor is testing, and enables them to create pricing or product strategies that help counteract threats, while preparing the contact center for new calls. This example also illustrates how speech analytics can benefit all groups across an organization, such as sales and marketing.

Real-time speech analytics enables contact center managers to improve customer service and retention by intervening while a problematic interaction is taking place. We’ve even seen instances where the intervention led to an up-sell or a cross-sell opportunity, resulting in an improved bottom-line. Imagine, as a customer, the difference between someone stepping in while you are having a problem, versus getting a call days later – typically after you’ve already moved on to do business with another company. It makes a huge difference.

Nancy: How can you combine the use of historical and real-time speech analytics to create even better results for the contact center?

Matt: Here is an example. Let’s say that a greeting card retailer has a sudden influx of unusual complaints in response to shipments of misprinted custom holiday cards. The recorded calls uncover a back-office printing problem. The contact center manager then prepares the agents for what to say as new calls come in. Real-time analysis of new calls monitors customer reaction based on key words or phrases, such as “I want my money back,” or “I want to cancel my order,” which in turn enables managers to suggest, in real-time, modified responses and offers that keep customers from leaving. Further analysis can mine the results of those efforts and let managers make any additional changes as needed.

Nancy: How can contact centers get the most benefit from speech analytics and where should they start?

Matt: Every organization is going to have different objectives, so there is no “one size fits all” speech analytics solution. What I can say, however, is that we spent literally years researching speech analytics technologies and much of this involved gathering top customer requirements. What we kept finding was that contact center managers loved the idea of a speech analytics solution, but most were reluctant to move forward because they had heard so many nightmare stories about colleagues who had spent tons of money on a solution only to stuff it in a closet because it proved too complex to deploy. 

So, while we started with the idea of a pretty sophisticated speech analytics product based on emotion detection, we quickly regrouped and developed instead a solution based on real-time keyword- and phrase-spotting that contact centers could use almost immediately and see hard ROI from.

For those contact center managers still reluctant to take the speech analytics plunge, here are a few capabilities I recommend for your short-list that will help ensure a cost-effective and fast deployment with immediate benefits:

  • The ability to score customer and agent words separately during interactions, then have alerts sent when pre-determined thresholds are reached on either side of the conversation.
  • The ability to provide guidance through effectiveness tests prior to deployment so false positives are minimized, thus resulting in maximum keyword and phrase search effectiveness.
  • The ability to conduct analysis on the same audio stream and at the same time as supervisory monitoring and call recording to minimize bandwidth requirements and eliminate after-the-fact re-processing of recordings.
  • The ability to store speech analytics with recordings for quick search and trending analysis.

And if you’re still unsure if speech analytics is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact me: (317) 715-8151 or via email.

About Jamison Consulting
Nancy Jamison, President and Principal Analyst of Jamison Consulting, has over 30 years of industry analyst and brand manager experience in the contact center and enterprise communications markets. She applies her broad industry knowledge and expertise in marketing to help clients develop and deliver solutions from a tactical and strategic perspective. Jamison Consulting is an independent industry analyst and consulting firm that provides in-depth market research, analysis, and insight to clients in the areas of unified communications, speech technologies, contact centers, and related emerging areas. Ms. Jamison can be reached at 650-795-0116; on Twitter @NancyJami, via email or on the Jamison Consulting web site