Envision Takes a "Real" Look at Speech

In a world of myriad metrics -- be it average handle time, post-call surveys, first call resolution, etc. -- one of the final frontiers of gleaning customer information in the contact center is through speech analytics, the act of being able to cull data from the context of actual human conversation, arguably the true "voice of the customer."

Speech analytics technology has been available for years, but according to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, adoption is still slow due to:

  • high total cost of ownership;
  • highly complex solutions;
  • unclear return on investment; and
  • additional resources necessary to manage the tool and analyze/utilize the results.

Looking to provide a speech analytics solution that is realistic for today's contact center, which faces immeasurable stress due to the recession, Envision Telephony recently unveiled InteractionIQ, a self-proclaimed right-sized speech offering.

"This is our biggest product announcement of the year," proclaims Jim Shulkin, director of marketing for Envision. "We've been in the speech analytics game ... through our relationship with Utopy, and adoption has been hugely disappointing for the entire marketplace. Speech analytics has been at the top of the hype cycle for years, but all the research we've seen shows the adoption in the contact center is still well short of 10 percent."

Shulkin points to cost, complexity, and internal management issues as primary reasons for poor adoption and, consequently, it was this triad of trouble the company looked to assuage with InteractionIQ. "One of the things we did out of the gate was not include some of the features the market told us were nice-to-haves, but didn't help immediately ... like emotion detection," he says. "Things like this drive up complexity and the cost of the solution. We are absolutely not apologizing for this because this is what the market needs [in order] to bring down barriers to speech technology adoption."

Shulkin says that the company took an 80/20 approach to which features were included in InteractionIQ -- not including 20 percent of high-end yet underutilized features and deliver 80 percent of core functionality. The features that made it into InteractionIQ include:

  • a processing filter, which self-manages the total cost of speech analytics by focusing processing power on the most pertinent and relevant interactions as decided by line of business users;
  • subscriptions, essentially saved searches filtering recordings according to specific words or phrases delivered to an inbox to speed up review;
  • ad-hoc searches, enabling on-demand queries for new or specific terms when necessary;
  • smart tags, as in other Envision products, providing a limitless number of terms that can be marked in all processed interactions for immediate reference and click-through ability to recordings during review; and
  • reporting, incorporating voice data like all other data sources in order to customize reporting, thus making dashboard information more precise and actionable.

"This is just another important step in the mass marketing of speech analytics," says Paul Stockford, chief analyst for Saddletree Research. "The fact is that it usually requires an extensive undertaking to implement speech analytics. There's not a lot of implementations…while reports may show thousands of shipments, whether they are implemented is another story."

Stockford explains that Envision's relationship with Utopy has enabled the vendor to possess first-hand knowledge of the issues affecting adoption. "An important point is that the company built it to be a low-cost alternative from day one," he says.

Stockford also points out that the processing filter feature included in InteractionIQ allows the cost-control aspect of the speech analytics process to fall back into the hands of the user, and is likely the most important functionality in this offering. Most speech analytics systems, he says, give you top-line accuracy. "If you're the CIA you have to have that," he notes. "You pay for it no matter what."

For companies that may not need the same level of accuracy, Envision has established a default with "an acceptable margin of error" that lowers processing costs. "The higher the accuracy you want, the greater processing feeds and expenses," he says. "If you're willing to accept a greater margin of error you can lower your requirements and cost. What I like is that it is user controllable."

The proof will most certainly be in the adoption, but Stockford believes Envision is uniquely positioned to succeed with InteractionIQ given its historical focus on small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs). "The company has built up loyalty, market expertise, and has a nice customer base," he says. "The old adage is absolutely true: The best prospects are your current customers. The expertise in this market should give [Envision] a running start in terms of making speech analytics accessible and acceptable to SMBs."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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