Interaction Analytics Bring Real-Time Guidance to Contact Centers

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Adoption of interaction analytics (IA) has not been slowed down by the pandemic. Breakthroughs in the underlying natural language processing technology, along with powerful cloud-based processing capabilities, have improved transcription accuracy, conversational comprehension, and overall business value. Interaction analytics capabilities are now finding their way into many third-party systems, including cloud-based contact center infrastructure solutions, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, voice-of-the-customer (VoC) offerings, business intelligence (BI) applications, and more.

And because of the technical and operational innovations, many IA vendors are replacing their transcription engines with newer and more effective ones. The improvements in processing speed and accuracy are also making it possible for real-time IA to become a reality in contact centers, delivering alerts and real-time guidance that is empowering agents to deliver a better and more personalized customer experience.

The advancements in IA solutions are attracting new buyers and partners and driving a much-needed replacement cycle for these solutions. This is being helped along by the increased adoption of digital channels, which is opening up new opportunities by expanding AI’s uses and contributions. Then there are the broader enterprise uses of AI: applying it to identify new product opportunities, at-risk customers, legal risks, and the potential for fraud, just to mention a few. IA solutions can provide executives with insights into the reasons customers reach out and ask for help. To date, most companies apply IA primarily in their contact centers, as this department is the source of most recordings and digital transactions. However, as contact centers receive feedback about departments, policies, and systems from all over an enterprise, IA can provide useful insights about many aspects of a company.

Interaction analytics has made substantial progress in the past 18 months, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done before these solutions are accepted and adopted as enterprise BI solutions. Until this happens, the sector’s total addressable market will be limited to contact center seats. Applying IA solutions to improve the performance of contact centers is valuable and will result in a payback within two to three years, when used properly. But the contributions of IA solutions grow substantially and rapidly when they are applied as a customer experience (CX) BI solution and are used to understand and improve the customer journey.

Removing the Mystery in Customer Interactions

Interaction analytics removes the mystery from customer conversations and, in doing so, gives companies insight into what customers are talking (or writing) about and, specifically, their needs and wants. These increasingly sophisticated analytics solutions have evolved from basic keyword search applications that help companies understand call reasons to valuable tools that provide insights and an appreciation of customer sentiment. The more advanced IA offerings have expanded their capabilities and benefits far beyond their initial contact center audience, though they are struggling for the attention of CX executives, who continue to concentrate on marketing and sales functions.

The current generation of IA offerings are transformational tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide passive VoC findings and insights, minimizing the need to survey customers frequently. (There are still legitimate marketing reasons for companies to reach out to their customers to solicit their opinions in specific situations or about products and services.) The more advanced IA solutions come with customer journey analytics (CJA) capabilities, which provide omnichannel insights into each customer’s experience as they traverse an organization and pivot among channels. While there is still work to be done to enhance their emerging CJA capabilities, IA solutions are the most effective tool available in most enterprises for identifying issues and bottlenecks that prevent companies from delivering the outstanding experience their customers expect; in doing so, IA solutions decrease servicing costs.

Real-Time Guidance Paves the Way for Personalized Experiences

Real-time guidance is another important and emerging use for IA solutions. A real-time speech analytics solution listens to (or reads) what customers are saying/writing in real time and uses this information to guide agents in how best to help customers. While real-time IA capabilities are just finding their way into the market, they have great potential and should be adopted as part of an enterprise’s digital transformation. Real-time guidance is clearly useful in enabling contact center agents to personalize a service experience, but it can be at least as helpful during sales, marketing, and collections interactions, for example.

Digital Transformation Is Coming

Calls remain the primary use for IA solutions, but more organizations are starting to apply interaction analytics to text-based interactions, which is a necessity now that digital customer service has grown in importance. As digital support is still in its early days in many organizations, gaining timely insights into how digital channels are being used and the nature of their challenges is very helpful for companies that want to deliver an outstanding customer experience cost-effectively.

Analytics-enabled quality management (AQM, also known as automated quality management) is positioned to be one of the next big capabilities in the IA market. Analytics-enabled QM has been talked about for at least 12 years and has been available, to some degree, for 10 of them. But it’s only in the past 18 months that AQM solutions are seeing significant adoption, which is due to innovations in the area of AI and machine learning. The market is ready to transition from traditional manually oriented QM to AQM. As contact centers need to find ways to operate more cost-effectively with fewer resources, AQM is positioned for success.

Interaction analytics has proven its value in contact centers and is positioned for greater success with the introduction of real-time capabilities and AQM. These innovations are transformational for contact centers, as they help leaders improve the CX while enhancing the agent experience and reducing operating costs—the classic benefits. Once enterprise CX executives recognize the contributions that AI-based interaction analytics solutions can make to many departments in the company, these solutions will realize their true potential. In the meantime, they offer compelling benefits for any forward-thinking contact center leader who is ready to enter the age of digital transformation. 

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is highly regarded as one of the foremost experts on contact centers and the back office and specializes in digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and automation. With 30 years of experience helping organizations build highly effective operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions, Fluss created DMG Consulting to deliver unparalleled and unbiased research, analysis, and consulting services. Fluss is a renowned speaker, author, and source for industry and business publications. She can be reached at Donna.Fluss@dmgconsult.com.

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