The Benefits of Speech Analytics Software

May 28, 2014 by: Chuck Ciarlo

Despite changing technologies, phone calls are still the top method used by customers when they wish to contact a company. It is the function of the call center to facilitate these calls, and to gain whatever insight is detectable from them into customer trends and behavior.

Call recording has been used for decades to mine this valuable research commodity, but more recently these efforts have been enhanced by the use of speech analytics software. Now, call centers can automatically refine and analyze the data captured in recorded calls, and deliver reports based on findings.

While this “after-the-fact” analysis is crucial to future business objectives, speech analytics can also deliver insight into calls as they happen, categorizing them based on the words used by the caller and providing agents with an opportunity to personalize their responses, in a manner most likely to engender a positive result (getting an order, increasing an order, addressing a complaint).

Until very recently, a sophisticated speech analytics solution required a significant investment. But with the evolution of cloud computing, speech analytics software has become yet another commodity that can be delivered through a SaaS (Software as a Service) option, which brings this technology within the reach of small and mid-sized contact centers as well.

Do You Need Speech Analytics?
This is the question now facing hundreds of companies that interact with customers through a contact center.

Those with a call recording solution may believe they already know why customers are calling, how agents are responding, and what trends are impacting customer relationships.

But speech analytics goes one step further, while also processing large amounts of recorded call data more quickly. By automatically detecting key words and phrases, analytics provides a number of important applications, from discerning caller motivation to checking for mandatory compliance statements. The faster a call center can consistently analyze call content, the better its ability to report on (and react to) how customers are reacting to product offers, special promotions and service provided.

The Benefits of Using Speech Analytics
Let’s examine in more detail some of the ways in which speech analytics improves call center performance.

Improving Key Metrics
Call center managers are constantly striving for ways to reduce first call resolution rates and average handle times, among other key metrics, while refining and repairing the processes in place to achieve these objectives. Speech analytics can help identify opportunities in these critical efforts.

With first call resolution (FCR), speech analytics delivers insight into why repeat calls are necessary, by getting to the root of their occurrence. It identifies instances of repeated calls that might not be detected through other means, such as when a customer calls again days or even weeks later on a different matter. When such instances are catalogued, a call center can work on ways to resolve both issues on one call – perhaps even before the caller is aware of the potential problem.

Instances of repeat calls can be profiled by caller, or issue, or both. Can some of these be eliminated through a change in the agent’s approach, or are some chronic calls simply unavoidable? Have calls to certain agents resulted in a lower percentage of repeats? What is that agent doing that others are not?

Speech analytics takes into account both the actual recorded customer transaction data, and the “voice of the customer” – demeanor, personality, words/phrases used most often – to extract recurring themes. Once identified, it is easier to devise a solution to reduce these numbers, whether that entails a change in company policies and procedures, closing process gaps, more effective call-handling tools or additional agent training.

Average handle time (AHT) can be adjusted following the same techniques. Speech analytics will locate the root causes, thus providing managers with a plan of action (training, procedural adjustments, etc.). Time saved in reduced call length and less repeat calls can add up to significant savings in staff time and call center costs.

Boosting Sales
For contact centers where sales are a priority, speech analytics can help identify which sales pitches are generating the best return, and which words or phrases are having the greatest impact on callers. It can also identify which methods are doing more harm than good, and target up-sell strategies and efforts that are generating the desired results.

Improving Agent Performance
There is no more valuable resource at a contact center than a well-trained, enthusiastic agent.

Call recording and monitoring helps to identify personnel issues that can be corrected with more targeted coaching. But speech analytics takes this process one step further, highlighting specific performance components and call content that makes evaluation much more comprehensive. Through such repeated, methodical analysis, managers will know how to adjust scripts and how agents should deliver their content, in ways that will boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

And while speech analytics makes it easier to micromanage each agent’s job performance, so coaching can be tailored to their individual needs, it can simultaneously change the culture of the entire contact center by recognizing repeat patterns in customers’ voices and word choice.

Some of the same conclusions could conceivably be drawn after weeks or months of analysis via more traditional means. The impact of speech analytics is felt not only in what it can do but also in how quickly it can deliver effective intelligence. Now, call centers can change as swiftly as their customers do, and react faster to unforeseen challenges.

Improving Customer Service and Retention
Part of making customers satisfied is finding out why some remain dissatisfied. Using speech analytics to categorize calls can lead to proactive strategies for reducing such instances.

Why are unhappy callers calling? Is it a product failure or a service issue? Was there a billing problem, or did they have trouble getting the information they need to make a buying decision? Speech analytics finds the common threads in thousands of calls. Management responds with targeted improvement initiatives based on this intelligence.

However, solving problems is just one aspect of customer service and retention that can be impacted by speech analytics. This capability can also identify missed opportunities in marketing and sales, help determine which promotions are delivering results, and which customer retention strategies show the most promise.

Better Marketing Intelligence
The more a company knows about its customers, the better it can serve their interests. That’s why many firms spend millions of dollars on market research. Speech analytics can deliver valuable, quantifiable marketing intelligence at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods, and provide actionable reports much faster, even on the same day. And since speech analytics incorporates every recorded call in its calculations, it provides more comprehensive analysis than what can be gathered through random sampling.

Regulations regarding data protection impact a number of industries with a call center component. Privacy and security restrictions require agents to perform their duties in a manner that is compliant with these regulations. Speech analytics provides a cost-effective means to confirm that agents are doing their jobs the right way, and are not risking liability that can cost the company in fines or loss or reputation.

With speech analytics, contact centers can improve the quality of customer service and satisfaction, boost customer loyalty and retention, and reduce time spent on repeat calls and issues related to other KPIs, all while also lowering call center costs.

We would like to hear from you if you are interested in learning more about speech analytics.

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