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Speech Analytics Is Starting to Make a Difference
With skilled analysts behind them, these solutions can enhance the customer journey.
For the rest of the November 2014 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Post-call speech analytics is ready for prime time and all types of users. Real-time speech analytics is an emerging solution that is highly compelling due to its potential. Although the underlying technology for these two solutions may be the same, their uses are totally different. Post-call speech analytics is a strategic enterprise application that companies should use to rapidly identify operational, procedural, technical, and staff-related issues, as well as pinpoint new revenue opportunities. Real-time speech analytics is a tactical application designed to alter the outcome of phone conversations while the caller is still on the line. This makes it a contact center tool that can be used to reduce risk and minimize bad customer experiences. As a result, it also becomes an effective coaching tool for agents.

Post-Call Speech Analytics Nears Maturity

Speech analytics entered the commercial market in 2004, and its use has been growing rapidly due to its unique and highly compelling value proposition. Speech analytics remains the only application that can structure phone conversations and find insights and trends. The automation component of these solutions is the easy part of the process; the enterprise challenge has been figuring out how to apply the findings.

Speech analytics solutions are sophisticated tools that require management by highly trained people to realize the expected benefit and return on investment. However, contact centers, the primary users of speech analytics, prefer solutions that are highly intuitive and can be used by supervisors. This is the main reason many speech analytics implementations are not delivering the expected benefits. These solutions require ongoing care and modification—tuning, searching, and filtering—to deliver targeted and effective findings. Once trends and insights are identified, companies need a way to share this information on a timely basis, and a vehicle for driving change. Speech analytics is an enterprise business intelligence tool whose findings should be incorporated into a formal change management process. This tool and process should be overseen by skilled business analysts empowered to drive change throughout the enterprise.

Not All Solutions Are Created Equal

There is a misconception in the market that most speech analytics solutions offer similar capabilities. This is a result of the fact that almost all speech analytics vendors make similar claims about their solutions' capabilities. First-time buyers do not typically have the expertise or knowledge to distinguish between the offerings. Solutions designed to spot key words and phrases, which are the most common in the market, cannot perform a forensic analysis and identify new trends, for example. Speech analytics packages built to address specific business issues and that come with predefined lexicons (libraries), searches, reports, dashboards, and key performance indicators are very different from solutions that come with a blank canvas where users have to build everything themselves. DMG cautions prospects to carefully evaluate the various solutions when making a selection, and keep in mind that if you are getting it for free, there is probably a good reason why.

Speech Analytics Reduces Risk

From the beginning, speech analytics has been used to measure agent script adherence—making sure that agents say what they are supposed to at the right time during a conversation and that they are not saying inappropriate things to callers. Script adherence remains an important use of speech analytics; this capability has a proven payback for companies that set it up properly and maintain it. But as governments and other agencies in countries around the world have introduced regulations to control the handling of sensitive customer credit card information, debt collections, sales, the calling of mobile phones, etc., speech analytics has become a valuable tool for proving that a company is in compliance. Companies are using speech analytics to help them adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and to improve their staff's compliance with the proliferation of debt collection regulations. Real-time speech analytics is also 

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