SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Prokop
Andrew Prokop has been heavily involved in the world of communications since the early 1980s. He holds five United States...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Andrew Prokop | February 29, 2016 |

 
   

Speech Analytics: Have You Ever Heard a Smile?

Speech Analytics: Have You Ever Heard a Smile? Speech analytics is making sure that the loudest sound on a call is a smile.

Speech analytics is making sure that the loudest sound on a call is a smile.

In many spheres of human endeavor, from science to business to education to economic policy, good decisions depend on good measurement.
-- Ben Bernanke

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

I am sure this isn't the first time you've read those words. They have been drummed into my head since the first day I encountered automatic call distribution (ACD) technology sometime in the early 1980s. Contact center (or "call center" as it was called back then) supervisors and business unit leaders lived and breathed time in queue, average hold time, and call abandon rate. Their jobs depended on keeping those and similar metrics in line and under control. A spike in one number would often lead to spikes in others, and ultimately, to disgruntled callers and lost revenue.

Like everything else, a lot has changed since I first entered the workforce and learned how to spell PBX. The number of metrics that a contact center gathers and measures has not only grown, but the emphasis has changed. Rather than putting all their eggs into the numbers games, customer care centers are concerned with identifying at-risk callers, agent retention, automation, trend analysis, and script compliance. It's not enough to know that a call was dropped; IT directors and business unit leaders want to know where the call dropped, why the call dropped, who the caller was, who the agent was, and the full context of the caller. In addition to measuring the technical data about a call (start time, stop time, hold time, etc.), a greater importance is now placed on the customer and agent interaction.

For example, speech analytics can be used to gauge the tone of the customer and agent's voice. Is the customer angry? Is the agent acting rudely? Is the agent using the prescribed words and phrases at the appropriate times? Is the customer using words that the agent isn't responding to?

By listening to the audio stream, a contact center can improve the customer's experience while driving down costs and driving up revenues. This can occur historically by analyzing recorded conversations or in real-time as the transactions are occurring.

The many benefits include:

  • Improved sales
  • Customer retention
  • Improved marketing
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Compliance and regulatory adherence
  • Enhanced agent training
  • Streamlined escalations
  • Improved agent behavior

Clearly, there's gold in them thar voices.

Structuring Unstructured Data

As powerful as speech analytics might be, making sense out of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of conversations can be a daunting task. Voice can be extremely unstructured, and extracting the relevant data from the unimportant chatter is not a trivial task. It's easy to become lost in a sea of words.

Additionally, a speaker's tone can turn a statement upside down. For example, "Really?" can indicate happiness, anger, sarcasm, confusion, or disgust depending on how it's said and in what context. There are even cases where the sex or cultural background of the speaker can make a difference in how words and phrases should be interpreted.

Despite the challenges, many organizations have accepted speech analytics as an important business tool. According to the 2015 PWC State of Analytics Report:

  • 90% of high performers say analytics is absolutely critical or very important to driving the company's overall business strategy and improving operational outcomes.
  • High performers are 3x more likely than underperformers to be heavy analytics users, gleaning value via analytics in 10 or more disciplines. On average, high performers analyze more than 17 different kinds of data -- almost double the number analyzed by underperformers.
  • By 2017, business leaders will invest more resources in data and analytics in these areas:
    • Tools and technology (51%)
    • People (35%)
    • Training (35%)
Putting Things in Their Place

While there are many ways to apply speech analytics, one of the most obvious places is within an organization's call recording platform, and vendors such as Calabrio, Verint, Nice, inContact, CSI, and TelStrat offer comprehensive solutions. Since call recorders are typically engaged with a call from cradle to grave, they are an ideal place to analyze voice dynamically or historically.

Outside the call recorder, companies such as Avaya provide solutions that perform analytics as calls are in progress. For example, the Avaya Real-Time Speech Snap-In can listen in on active calls and dynamically influence that call's behavior.

To Infinity and Beyond

While using speech analytics to make present moment decisions is how most contact centers are operating today, a great deal of thought and effort are now being applied to predicting the future. By employing statistical and other mathematical models to in-progress and recorded conversations, businesses can predict everything from customer attrition to a looming spike in contact center traffic.

For instance, a food distributor can use a series of calls about tainted products to foresee a large-scale recall and proactively begin damage control measures. This may not have been possible if conversations were treated as singular events and not holistically. In other words, multiple calls about the same thing equates to a trend.

Speaking of trends, if you have been following my articles here on No Jitter, you will know that I am a firm believer that voice is being supplanted by text as the preferred method of customer-to-business interaction. This means that in addition to applying analytics to spoken conversations, the same technology must be applied to SMS text, Web chat, and email. If evaluating human speech for present moment and future decisions is important, it's just as important when those conversations are typed on a keyboard or thumbed on a touch screen.

Have You Ever Heard a Smile?

I have seen a lot of motivational posters over my many years in the corporate world. While most were completely forgettable, some managed to stay with me. One of the most memorable was extremely simple, yet highly effective. Above the words, "Have you ever heard a smile?" was a very happy woman speaking on the telephone. I remember it because I have heard smiles. I also hope that people have heard my smiles, too.

In many ways, that sums up speech analytics. Contact centers want to know if their customers are hearing smiles and if those customers are smiling in return. They also want to hear when customers and agents are grimacing. They want to hear those things (and so much more) to understand the difference between success and failure. They want a tool that can help them streamline interactions and maximize profits.

I began this article saying that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. However, that's only the beginning. You need to measure, evaluate, decipher, comprehend, predict, and take action. That's what speech analytics brings to the table. It's making sure that the loudest sound on a call is a smile.

Learn more about contact center trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2016, March 7 to 10, in Orlando, Fla. View the Contact Center track sessions; register now using the code NJPOST to receive $200 off the current conference price.

Andrew Prokop writes about all things unified communications on his popular blog, SIP Adventures.

Follow Andrew Prokop on Twitter and LinkedIn!
@ajprokop
Andrew Prokop on LinkedIn





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.