In 1597, English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon declared, “Knowledge is power.”
Today, 420 years later, that mantra is finally being repeated in corporate boardrooms. Increasingly, businesses are collecting and analyzing information with the goal of improving customer service. In fact, a PwC survey of CEOs ranked analytics as the most important capability for delivering a better customer experience. The rising interest in analytics is rippling through the speech market and improving areas like agent compliance and customer interactions.
As providing better customer experiences has become a top priority in the boardroom, firms have become more willing to bankroll speech analytics initiatives, sometimes even without traditional return-on-investment metrics. The industry trend toward prioritizing the customer experience rather than controlling costs has had a positive impact on speech analytics, which are well suited to those initiatives, according to Chris Bauserman, vice president of segment and product marketing at inContact, which was acquired by NICE in May 2016.
“As evidenced by the growing number of case studies recently, enterprises are seeing significant returns on their speech analytics investments,” notes Scott Kendrick, vice president of marketing at CallMiner.
The end result is healthy growth. DMG Consulting, for example, saw a 30.1 percent increase in speech analytic seats, rising from 3,507,795 agents in March 2015 to 4,564,838 in March 2016.
Not surprisingly, the high growth captured many vendors’ interest. Aspect Software, Avaya, CallMiner, Genesys, inContact, Interactive Intelligence, NICE, Nuance Communications, OnviSource, Verint Systems, Voice Print International (VPI), and Zoom International are some of the suppliers selling speech analytic solutions.
These tools are being used in various ways. One traditional focus has been to get a clearer picture about contact center agent performance, and improvements are coming in two ways. “Analytics help businesses monitor agent quality assurance,” Kendrick says. The tools analyze how quickly and effectively agents interact with customers. If one agent has been taking a long time to close routine inquiries, a manager can drill down, examine the call flow, and train the person to be more efficient.
In addition, a growing number of government agencies are mandating that corporations interact with customers in specific ways. Businesses in highly regulated industries—most notably the financial services arena—are finding speech analytics an effective way to improve oversight and mitigate compliance risks, according to inContact’s Bauserman. Systems help to ensure that agents follow company scripts. Also, if an audit arises, executives are armed with the data they need to demonstrate a willingness to follow regulations.
A Focus on the Complete Picture
Another area of focus for analytics and other speech applications is enhancing the entire customer experience. Rather than treating customers in a piecemeal fashion, handling contact center calls in one way and social media interactions in another, businesses want to meld them into a cohesive whole. However, a number of building blocks need to be put in place for enterprises to reach that goal.
Speech analytics solutions can be integrated with a variety of other applications, and corporations should start with the most obvious connections. “Text analytics is gaining ground, but the general lack of unified speech and text analytics platforms is causing some drag,” Bauserman says.
Integrating the different elements can be done in various ways. Many of the traditional suppliers have been assimilating speech analytics into their ever-growing product suites. For instance, Avaya Oceana is a customer engagement platform that supports traditional media, such as voice, as well as multimedia interactions, such as social engagement. In June, the vendor announced Avaya Oceanalytics, an open, modular, and extensible analytics and reporting platform. Businesses collect analytics information via Avaya Analytics Collector Snap-ins; by constructing their own connections with Avaya Breeze, a programming tool; or by building links to third-party application programming interfaces.