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Speech Analytics Can Help Alter the Service Paradigm

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This means that these solutions can potentially be used to identify angry, unhappy, and at-risk callers as well as individuals who are interested in buying new products. Sales is a second major use category for real-time speech analytics, as these applications have the ability to identify which products and services are most appropriate for each caller, a highly effective approach for delivering a personalized and high-value service experience. (The real-time speech analytics solution must be integrated with a number of data sources to perform this function.) However, if it is being used to identify sales opportunities, a real-time speech analytics application must be accompanied by a real-time guidance system so that an agent knows the right actions to take to help a given caller.

CHANGES IN THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

The speech analytics market underwent a significant round of consolidations during 2016, which significantly changed the competitive landscape. In March 2016, NICE, a leading workforce optimization (WFO) vendor, acquired Nexidia, one of the two stand-alone speech analytics vendors and one of the founders of the market. NICE has also announced its intent to purchase inContact, a leading cloud-based contact center infrastructure vendor, which offers a speech analytics solution (inContact is in the process of using one of its recent acquisitions, a product called Attensity, to revamp its speech analytics product and strategy). In April 2016, OpenText purchased the contact center WFO assets of HP. (HP owned Autonomy, which included a contact center WFO suite and IDOL, the underlying technology used for its speech analytics product and for other content analysis purposes.) It remains to be seen what OpenText is going to do with these contact center assets, but it potentially represents another change for the market.

At the same time as the market was experiencing consolidation, newer entrants started to make their presence known. Interactions started to sell its large vocabulary continuous speech recognition (LVCSR) engine to partners. Voci did the same and started to compete on a direct basis. SESTEK, based in Istanbul, Turkey, has set up a sales office in the United States and is competing for North American business. ZOOM International has enhanced its phonetics-based engine with an LVCSR-based tool kit and is selling its speech analytics engine to third-party vendor partners; it also has its resellers competing for end-user business. (ZOOM competes only on an indirect basis.) Competitors in other countries are winning regional business, a trend that is expected to continue.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The risk is clear: Organizations that do not make the necessary changes in how they treat their customers, prospects, and employees are in danger of extinction. Enterprises need to change their servicing philosophies and how they transact business. Contact centers as we know them today need to be re-imagined as “experience” or “engagement” centers whose primary responsibility is to build and maintain relationships. These new servicing/sales organizations will be the axis for all activity related to managing customer and prospect interactions. The people who staff these functions must be the best the organization has to offer, as they will be responsible for all aspects of the business/customer relationship, which ultimately drives the enterprise’s bottom line. They must also have access to actionable insights and analytics to do the job. Speech analytics will play an important role in this transition on a direct and indirect basis—it is a highly beneficial solution that is here to stay.


Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

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