Speech Analytics: Offering Value Across the Enterprise

By Siobhan Miller

Those in charge of contact centers understand the value of the information captured in call recordings. But the sheer volume of calls and manual processes required to extract information reduce the Voice of the Customer (VoC) to a whisper. The advent of speech analytics technologies has recently directed attention to the customer voice, increasing the accessibility of this information for uses beyond quality monitoring. Many contact centers are now using speech analytics to help them identify drivers of long average handle times (AHT), repeat calls, customer satisfaction, and call volume.

To this end, organizations purchase the product with specific goals in mind: reduce costs in the contact center, create back-office efficiencies, and/or understand the customer experience. As speech technology continues to evolve, organizations are expanding their speech analytics initiatives to create value across various departments.

Early “directed” technologies restricted organizations to getting answers only to the questions asked – focusing on the “categories” of issues they already knew about. Today, speech analytics not only provides “categorical” insights but also capitalizes on the repository of unfiltered customer feedback in recorded calls. This provides a window into what customers are talking about, without predisposition towards an assumed outcome – effectively letting organizations know what they don’t already know.

Speech analytics can uncover issues that affect sales, marketing, operations, compliance, and support as well as customers, partners, and employees. Additionally, the migration of this tool from the contact center throughout the enterprise is reflected in the growing speech technology market: DMG Consulting predicts speech analytics growth rates of 25 percent in 2013 and 20 percent in 2014, according to the “2011-2012 Speech Analytics Product and Market Report,” released in August 2012.

Let’s look at the areas within an organization that can benefit from speech analytics.

Account Management: Forward-thinking enterprises use the voice of their customers not only to create process efficiencies that reduce costs but also drive revenues. For example, a national payment processing company used speech analytics to tap into calls from customers who had closed their accounts as a way to build a profile of a customer likely to defect. The analytics team then used the tool to search through incoming calls to flag existing customers who fit that profile. After cross-correlating the list of retention risks with CRM data, the team established a process to proactively contact the most high-value and “at risk” customers, saving more than 600 accounts worth $1.7 million. In the first seven weeks of launching the solution, the company had already achieved a return on its speech analytics technology investment.

Sales: For many enterprises, cross- or up-selling customers is as important as retaining them. One leading financial institution analyzed the conversations taking place in its contact center to understand why a “service-to-sales” initiative wasn’t meeting targets. By using speech analytics to help mine and analyze trends across the customer interactions, it quickly identified certain terms and phrases in a script (provided by the marketing team) that correlated with much lower conversion rates. When using the phrase “May we have another moment of your time” to transition from the service segment of the call to the sales pitch, conversion rates dropped from an average of 15.1 to 6.3 percent. Simply by using a different transitional phrase, some agents managed to more than double the average conversion rate. Speech analytics helped uncover which components in the sales initiative weren’t working in time to benefit from fine-tuning the program.

Partner Management: Many calls to the contact center are driven by processes or issues over which it has no control: billing issues, missing orders, and broken products. These issues can even be more difficult to resolve when the source is external to the enterprise. One travel company discovered that a third party’s billing department was the driving force for many of the calls it received in the contact center. This discovery led the company to work with the third party to improve its billing practices and reduce call volume.

Marketing and Advertising: Another area that can benefit from the customer recordings within the contact center is the marketing department. Buried within customer calls is information on brand perception, messages that work, issues that can blow up into social-media nightmares, and insight that marketing can use in future campaigns – essentially an on-demand focus group. In addition to these proactive uses for speech analytics, the marketing department can also access it for times when messaging needs re-tuning.

One organization was able to fix an issue in an advertising campaign based upon information gathered in the contact center. The contact center had been receiving calls from customers that were frustrated and confused by a particular television campaign. By analyzing the calls, the company determined that the voice-over describing the offer said it had no restrictions, while the graphics showed that the offer was limited to certain types of customers. Once the issue was addressed, conversion rates increased and customer frustration was alleviated.

Today, speech analytics technology has made it easier than ever to surface issues that can drive change – not only in the contact center but also across the business. Enterprises that have found ways to turn up the volume on their VoC initiatives have been able to balance the need to optimize the business as they improve customer experience.

Siobhan Miller, director of solutions marketing for Verint, has experience incorporating customer feedback into products that drive customers’ critical business decisions. Siobhan has worked on VoC programs with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. She is a graduate of Fordham University, has an MA from Hofstra, and is Pragmatic Marketing and Customer Experience Management (CEM) certified.

[From Connection Magazine April 2013]

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