Web chat and speech analytics are the contact center technologies that will experience the highest levels of growth in 2012, according to research from contact center industry analyst firm ContactBabel.
According to ContactBabel's "U.S. Contact Center Decision-Maker's Guide 2012," Web chat implementations are expected to grow by 60 percent in 2012, with speech analytics increasing by 59 percent. Current penetration is 27 percent for speech analytics and 32 percent for chat.
According to Steve Morrell, the report's author, the most prevalent technology currently used in contact centers is call recording (80 percent), but it "doesn't offer the real insight that speech analytics does."
"Having said that, a lot of U.S. early adopters use [speech analytics] to prove compliance, but it's about more than that," he adds.
"Speech analytics is often currently used in the avoidance of litigation and fines...but it can also greatly assist cost reduction, agent improvement, and business process optimization," Morrell wrote in the report.
Among those early adopters are healthcare, insurance, and financial services providers, Morrell notes, adding that these firms have "the greatest chance to benefit from the business insight that speech analytics can bring."
Web chat, on the other hand, accounts for just 2 percent of all inbound customer interactions, but is growing strongly, Morrell maintains.
"Web chat is more prevalent in the entertainment and leisure sector than elsewhere, but we would expect to see retailers increasing their take-up of this channel," he says, "to close more deals online and manage customer support more cheaply.
"More people are buying and being serviced online, and an online service channel is more appropriate for them than maybe picking up a phone," Morrell continues. "Text chat offers the conversational ability of a phone call, but is far quicker than email. It's not perfect, but for online browsers, it's a very suitable channel."
As a side benefit for the companies that employ it, Web chat does not require an agent to give her entire attention to a single customer at a time, meaning Web chats can take place concurrently. That can reduce costs per interaction, Morrell says.
And while speech analytics is expected to surge, Morrell says it is more likely to be rolled into a larger multichannel interaction analytics strategy than function as a stand-alone technology.
"We are seeing channels such as email, Web chat, and social media being included when analyzing the voice of the customer and agent performance across all channels," he says, "to get the full picture of the customer's real journey in a single interaction to identify and improve any channels that failed to fulfill their requirements."
These integrated multichannel analytics are an increasingly important part of many leading vendors’ solutions, which apply interaction categorization methodology to email, chat, social media, and phone calls to provide a complete analysis of the entire customer interaction life cycle, the report also states.