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Speech Analytics: Highlighting Three Problem Areas and Three Opportunities

Wouldn't it be great if you could listen to the voice of all your valued customers?

Now you can. With speech analytics, you can analyze the full spectrum of your customer interactions. You gain valuable business insight into problem areas that you may not be aware of as well as opportunities to create competitive advantages for your company.

Otherwise, finding what you need to know can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Quality management and call recording solutions are a step in the right direction, but how do you find the calls that really matter? Most companies simply don't have the bandwidth to listen to more than a tiny percentage of calls, usually selected randomly.

When you layer on speech analytics, you're able to selectively find relevant interactions rather than perusing a random handful that have no predetermined context. Shep Hyken, a globally renowned expert in customer service, says, "You can't get a real understanding with just a handful of customers. It takes thousands of conversations and lots of data to get the full picture."

Problem #1: Discover regulatory non-compliance

When a debt collection agency first implemented speech analytics, the manager practically had a heart attack. He heard agents saying things like, "We'll garnish your wages," and "…have you arrested," among other horrifying phrases, all of which ran afoul of regulatory laws. According to Scott Bakken, co-founder of business analytics firm Maintrax, of the 1.2 million complaints received annually by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, more than 40% of these complaints are due to non-compliance by a debt collection agency.

Regulations prohibit not only threats such as these but also govern proactive notification of consumers' rights. For example, the Federal Trade Commission enacted the "Cooling-Off Rule" to protect you against buyer's remorse, and some states extend that protection with supplemental laws. Companies to whom these laws apply can use speech analytics to help ensure all agents are saying "You have three days to change your mind…"

Both types of regulatory violations-agents saying inappropriate things or omitting required scripts-can result in legal issues and/or significant financial penalties. A single fine could exceed the cost of your speech analytics solution.

Problem #2: Discover agent performance issues

Without exception, every contact center manager I've talked with has grappled with occasional agent performance issues. Some stories are relatively common, such as instances of agents being rude to a customer. Others are unique: just when I thought I had heard everything, one quality assurance manager told me about an agent who had phone sex with a customer!

You may feel confident most of your agents make every effort to be helpful. But is it possible you have agents saying these types of things to your customers?

  • "Try calling back…"
  • "You're not listening…"
  • "I don't care…"

You can also confirm whether agents are properly empathetic when the situation calls for it. Search for role model examples-such as agents saying "I'm sorry" or "I apologize" and successfully calming the caller-and share these recordings with other agents for training purposes.

Problem #3: Unearth common sources of customer frustration

With speech analytics, you can listen to the voice of 100% of your customers. Look for common themes that may indicate poor design of your website, confusing instruction manuals, or other issues you could address to reduce call volume and increase customer satisfaction.

  • "I tried to find…," "I couldn't find…" or "I searched your website" may indicate unsuccessful attempts to self-serve that could be addressed with a few simple updates to your website.
  • "You didn't tell me…" or "Why did I have to…" may help you identify process problems.
  • Phrases like "I was transferred…" or "I had to call back" can flag areas where you are not delivering first contact resolution.
  • Speech analytics can flag agent overtalk, another source of irritation.

Speech solutions include sentiment analysis. Browse calls where customers are unhappy and find examples of times the agent was able to resolve the issue and make the customer happy. Share those examples with other agents for training purposes.

These problem areas we've just reviewed are merely a starter list; you'll want to tailor your list to identify issues relevant to your unique business. Now let's turn our attention to the opportunities.

Opportunities revealed

In a global study of 500 customer experience decision-makers published in Aug. 2018, Opus Research revealed that interest in speech analytics extends beyond the contact center. Business executives are also eager to use analytics to find opportunities. Let's look at examples of how we can improve the contact center and the broader business.

Opportunity #1: Boost sales and upsells

"Do you want fries with that?" is the classic upsell. Does your company have an equivalent question, and are your agents following through?

Aberdeen Group, in a 2018 survey spanning 455 businesses, asked respondents to share the top reasons why they invested in speech analytics. The two top goals identified were to determine strengths and weaknesses of their products/services, and to identify opportunities for cross-sells and upsells.

Here are some concrete examples:

  • Retail: If a customer buys a coat, are agents offering hats or gloves?
  • Insurance: With a new house policy, are agents suggesting life insurance?
  • Technology: With a new computer purchase, are agents discussing service plans?

Speech analytics can help you identify ways to boost your bottom line.

Opportunity #2: Identify new product or service opportunities

Perhaps your agents are already offering fries and customers are buying them-then asking for milkshakes. If you don't offer milkshakes and it's a common request, looks like it's time to add them to the menu!

  • Key phrases such as "Where can I buy…" or "Where can I find…" give insight into what your product line may be missing.
  • "I wish it could..." or "Do you offer…" may indicate new product/feature opportunities.
  • "I just love…" and "I'm delighted" and "I'm so happy" gives insight into what you're doing right. Explore these for common trends-and then look to develop marketing campaigns around those products that delight your customers and fosters loyalty.

Are your products or services priced appropriately? If you see lots of "it's too expensive" comments, reevaluate your pricing. On the other hand, "…great price" and "so much cheaper than…" warrants research into whether you could raise your prices.

Opportunity #3: Identify and offload repetitive requests

Learn what categories and topics are trending, then drill down into details to identify opportunities to provide self-service options.

Aside from the obvious (change of address, checking balance), you may be surprised by what you find. Search for phrases like "I can't find…" and "How do I…" and look for common threads. A few simple website updates could help customers self-serve, and reduce your call volumes and costs accordingly while also making your customers happier.

Next steps

Aberdeen research shows a 73% increase in adoption of speech analytics between 2016 and 2018. Evaluate the potential business benefits to your business. For most companies, the time to value is immediate, and the return on investment often is rapid as well, especially for cloud-based solutions that have no up-front capital expenses or professional services costs.

Are speech analytics on your radar?