Speech analytics’ (SA) star is finally starting to rise in customer service. According to statistics from research and consulting firms, the technology that helps assist contact center managers to monitor calls and find issues to resolve is primed to take a giant leap into the hearts—and desktops—of centers worldwide.
As the market continues to grow, one thing is clear—there are two distinct camps fighting for supremacy: best-of-breed SA players and workforce optimization (WFO) suite providers that have incorporated aspects of SA into their arsenals. “The stakes are higher for best-of-breed SA companies,” says Keith Dawson, principal analyst for information and communication technologies at Frost & Sullivan. “You really do need some differentiator to get yourself a foothold in the contact center business.”
Atlanta-based Nexidia is doing just that—aggressively adding components in the past year to its flagship SA solution, Enterprise Speech Intelligence, to show SA is more than just a nice-to-have technology. In 2009 alone, the vendor unveiled new offerings for real-time SA, integrations to agents’ knowledge management systems, switching environments, and quality monitoring, as well as a partnership with performance management player Merced Systems to help deliver deeper meaning to incentive management.
Aphrodite Brinsmead, associate analyst of customer interaction technologies at Ovum, says Nexidia is standing out even in a market that’s seen its fair share of recent announcements. Agent Assist, a feature that pulls information from the knowledge base using real-time SA to suggest relevant information for agents to provide to customers, “reflects Nexidia’s strong position and its ability to drive innovation in the market,” she says. “Integration with knowledge management differentiates Nexidia.”
One of SA’s highest value propositions was the ability to search through text, pick out points that could either positively or negatively impact contact center performance, and then counsel agents. “That’s the function that’s very valuable for SA,” Brinsmead says. “That’s starting to change, though. Nexidia can use it in real time and provide agents with information to give customers. That’s a trend you will definitely see more of [this year].”
What also differentiates Nexidia, which offers both on-premises and on-demand SA solutions, is that it’s putting its money where its analytics engine is: offering a QuickStart program, a 90-day pilot for companies that want to give SA a whirl but aren’t ready to commit. “Offering this pilot, and offering it as a service…it’s not something all vendors can do at the moment,” Brinsmead says, noting that the SA’s hefty price tag had long been an obstacle. QuickStart also impresses Dawson, who says the emphasis on speed and business process tells him the company is looking for “novel ways to get [its] offerings in front of real contact center people who are looking for arguments they can make that are grounded in reality.”
No one’s saying Nexidia is the only best-of-breed player—or even the only successful one. But after winning Speech Technology magazine’s Speech Analytics award the last three years, it’s in a strong position to throw its weight around against the WFO suite players.
It’s not just SA’s potential for the contact center. It’s about providing the tools to make it really work. “What Nexidia’s been doing is concentrating on quantifying and articulating those contact center benefits,” Dawson says. “To be fair, the company’s not alone in doing that. There’s been a shift in the way companies talk about SA in the last year. Along with that shift, though, Nexidia is now here with products that shift that argument, too. That’s a significant step because it’s more than just talk—it’s a concrete example.”