• October 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The Age of Speech Analytics Is Close at Hand

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Like most major CRM technology introductions, greater adoption of real-time analytics will require a major attitude shift, not to mention a serious financial commitment, Fluss points out.

"Real-time analytics have not yet taken off because the core systems that most companies have in place weren't designed for it. There are definitely architectural issues, and so it can be expensive to bring new technologies on board," Fluss says.

"Companies need to rethink their entire service strategies," she continues. "They have to change the mind-sets, processes, and company cultures, which probably means retraining everyone."

Despite technological advances, real-time analytics will require significant processing power. And the current software can be expensive and require extensive and ongoing tuning to remain effective. Yet for all that, making the switch to real-time analytics "is difficult, but not impossible," Fluss says.

And for businesses with cloud-based contact centers, it might be a little easier. "With real-time analytics, you need to tap into the voice stream, and with an IP communications infrastructure, that is easier to do," Skowronek says.


Skowronek and others caution against jumping into real-time analytics without being mature in your understanding of analytics in general first.

"It's important not to get carried away with overdoing real-time analytics," Morrell warns. "There is a danger that businesses can get too enthusiastic and set alert thresholds far too low, resulting in agents being so constantly bombarded with cross-selling and upselling offers or warnings about customer sentiment or their own communication style that it becomes a distraction rather than a help."

Agents already are likely to have several applications running and several screens open at once, and the last thing they need is more windows popping up all the time.

"You want the ability to look at things in context so you're not reacting needlessly," Stephan says. "You want to be able to manage and react to patterns and larger trends rather than the outliers."

A tempered approach can also help ease the transition for agents and give them a measure of control, Gyles says. "You want to guide, not dictate to, the agents," he says. "They still like some autonomy in the process."

And even when a supervisor needs to intervene, the action shouldn’t be jarring for the customer. "You want it to be seamless from the customer's perspective. You want it to augment the customer experience," Verint's Stephan suggests. "Operationally, you don't want calls to come to a screeching halt unless they really need to."

Developing a concrete business plan ahead of time is also critical. "Fit the solution to a specific business need," Stephan says.

Skowronek, likewise, advocates forming clear goals, such as increasing compliance or reducing churn. "You don't want to deploy [real-time analytics] just because you can. You want to have a real use case in mind."

Wider business changes will probably be necessary as well. "To benefit from real-time operations, you need to have a real-time [company] culture and a real-time organization," Stephan contends. "Culturally, the organization has to be dynamic or the return on investment will not be there."

And then the organization needs to empower agents and supervisors to do something with the information the analytics software uncovers. "The agent needs to be able to use the data to deliver the best service to the customer," Stephan adds.

The technology still has changes to undergo. "Real-time monitoring and alert functionality is available now, but significant efforts still need to be made to reduce the amount of time required to process a trigger or event, cutting the reaction time from a handful of seconds to getting sub-second response times," Morrell points out.

Vendors would also do well to make their solutions simpler to use, he adds.

Money will be an issue, and experts caution that even with the best solutions, adoption will continue to lag if only large organizations can afford them and the staff needed to maintain them. Innovative solutions that allow businesses of all sizes to analyze more interactions and share the insight with more people across the company will be key to the technology’s future.

Speech analytics will also need to move beyond isolated channels and perform a more outcome-based analysis that informs improvements around best practices, behavior modeling, and customer preferences. Analytics teams will need to become cross-functional; capabilities will need to reach outside the contact center to enhance the entire business.

Taking contact center analytics to the next level will require work, but the effort will not be wasted. Experts suggest that by keeping customers at the heart of any rollout of real-time analytics and embracing the abundance of insight that such solutions can deliver, companies will be able to accomplish great things.

Senior News Editor Leonard Klie can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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