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Customer service has become one of today’s top differentiators for enterprises across virtually every vertical market. As organizations struggle to balance customer satisfaction with the drive to increase revenue and minimize the cost of customer service, contact center managers and executives are increasingly exploring technologies and processes that better integrate and streamline their sales, service and support channels and operations.

Speech analytics — the technology that allows enterprises to mine a large volume of recorded customer-agent voice interactions — are among the solutions successfully addressing this need within the context of each company’s business objectives, rather than as an independent contact center entity with no relationship or tie to overall business goals. These speech analytics solutions are helping redefine quality in a way that promotes greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and value.

By measuring not just contact center performance, but many other customer touch points that shape customer perceptions, speech analytics extends the benefits of contact center recording from workforce quality to enterprisewide customer process optimization.

Despite the buzz that surrounds it, speech analytics is not always fully understood or correctly implemented. However, armed with some best practices, organizations can optimize their speech analytics implementation strategy to maximize results.

1. Use an interactive approach. Customer and business insights gained from speech analytics are very different from other structured data you may be collecting and analyzing. Knowing what to look for and how it may be expressed by your customers is part of the challenge. A specific keyword may have very different meanings in different contexts. A solution and approach that allows you to interactively search and surface issues that you may not otherwise know to predefine is critical for a successful speech analytics implementation with a rapid ROI.

2. Focus on what matters most. Concentrate on issues that have the highest priority for your enterprise. For example, if reducing customer churn is important, use speech analytics to identify calls that indicate higher risk of churn, set up a team to analyze these calls and suggest process improvements that will have a measurable impact. After a proven win, take on the next challenge.

3. Choose a solution that works the way you do. Speech analytics can help find specific calls of interest that can affect quality monitoring, training and coaching. A speech analytics solution that is fully integrated into your QM and call recording platform will help streamline existing workflow, reduce total cost of ownership and increase ROI. Also verify compatibility — make sure your solution is fully compatible and can be supported in your current and future technical environment.

4. Use the solution for positive change, not as a disciplinary tool. Speech analytics is powerful and should be used to improve processes, empower agents and identify root causes and trends. Avoid using the technology as a form of discipline, so your agents will embrace it.

5. Gain more value from your quality monitoring. Many enterprises report that only 10 to 15 percent of calls evaluated by supervisors are used for follow-up training, coaching or process improvement. Apply speech analytics to focus your QM efforts on the key issues that matter most. You can still evaluate a smaller random sample of calls for benchmarking, but aim to have at least 50 percent of your QM calls focus on issues that impact contact center and enterprise performance and, as a result, the customer experience.

6. Discover and resolve root causes. Alerting a supervisor or calling back the customer every time someone has a bad experience may not be a practical course of action for many contact centers. Taking actions to resolve the root causes affecting many customer issues is more scalable and will have greater impact. Once a set of calls that relates to a high priority issue is determined, apply automated root cause analytics to identify the key issues driving these calls.

7. Engage business leaders outside the contact center. Some of the suggested actions may involve process changes or even adjustments to product and service offerings. This may require wider management approval and cross-departmental support. Share your findings with key business leaders and build consensus and support for required changes.

8. Leverage the “voice of the customer.” The true voice of the customer is undeniable. Make the most of it. Use speech analytics to uncover a sample of calls that represent the issue you are trying to resolve. Leverage these in your business case and share them with constituents outside the contact center — those whose departments and functions also touch and impact the customer experience.

9. Separate hype from reality. Speech analytics is an exciting technology that can transform the role of the contact center and impact the entire enterprise. When evaluating any new technology, it’s important to separate reality from hype. Speech analytics is providing real value today — yielding a ROI within three months for many customers — but it does not replace good agents or good supervisors. It can significantly impact QM, but does not automatically score agent performance. Its power and value come from identifying root causes hidden in thousands of calls, not from identifying a single keyword mentioned in a single call.

Contact center managers have access to more tools for collecting data and more solutions for counting those data than ever before. As a result, they are gathering massive amounts of information about what their contact centers are doing. From volumes and handling costs to operational overhead, revenue and customer churn, managers are able to get a clearer picture of exactly what’s happening across operations. Yet, with all of these data at hand, many organizations still do not understand why these outcomes happen. Understanding why they occur is fundamental for improving operational results.

By applying advanced speech recognition technology to spoken conversations, speech analytics solutions reveal critical insights that would not otherwise be apparent. And by measuring not just contact center performance, but also the back-office processes and other customer touch points that shape customer perceptions, speech analytics extends the benefits of contact center recording from workforce quality to enterprisewide customer process optimization. The end results can have quite an impact.


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