Speech Analytics and the New Age of Contact Centers

Yasir Bugrara July 07, 2020

Originally published on Medallia

As organizations start to look over the horizon from COVID-19, we realize that most businesses have just been forced through the eye of a storm. In the world of the contact center that old normal took six decades to create, we’ve seen momentous change that was forced upon us.

Before the pandemic, progress evolved slowly along with the technology and processes as contact centers grew to employ more than six million people globally. Having an agile environment was seen as the ultimate goal of customer experience maturity for organizations with large call centers, but a luxury most never realized.

But here we are today, three months later, with a real shift toward an agile approach to customer experience and new technology to match. In May, Medallia - Voci's parent company - released Medallia Speech, the latest signal brought into the Medallia Experience Cloud and a marker for the new age of speech analytics. The changing dynamics of the modern call center require not only an agile mindset, but powerful and flexible solutions that can scale with the organization.

The Changing Dynamics of the Contact Center

From an overall occupancy perspective, the industry has mostly stabilized over the past month as companies have begun adjusting to remote work and the new realities brought on by COVID-19. Call volume has declined slightly across contact centers in some verticals, but skyrocketed in others.

Instead of the gradual decrease in human contact center agents that many expected in the future, I believe we’ll actually see a large increase in agents over the next several years. A more flexible approach is crucial to managing uncertainty and fluctuating demand. Those six million agents globally could double in size, but some will be part-time or even contracted zero-hours workers with no guaranteed number of hours as contact centers become the new gig economy and remote work becomes commonplace.

This will bring new challenges to contact centers and its leadership as the need for rapid and consistent coaching, career planning progression and onboarding intensifies. Managers will need a continuous lens on the performance of their agents, who will need to be able to self manage their own progress.

Contact center leaders and customer experience executives will need the ability to listen to the voice of the customer to understand which employees need improvement and coaching, and of course, to capture signals across the entire customer journey that can lead to operational improvements and the ability to deliver seamless experiences.

Speech Analytics, a True Game Changer

While speech technology has been in the market for nearly two decades, it was slow to deliver on its promise and the technology became underutilized and underinvested in. But with artificial intelligence-driven speech analytics, we now have the ability to unlock the signals in each call to enable organizations to have a single view of the customer experience and the ability to drive rapid efficiencies and greater performance within the call center.

If you are looking at new ways to better understand your contact center customers at scale and improve the end-to-end customer experience, speech analytics are a great solution. Here are five things to look for when considering speech technology:

  • Quality Transcription Means Quality Data: Transcription quality should be great out of the box and your technology partner should ensure you have custom languages and topic lexicons pre-defined and installed. This can save you many hours of personal tuning. You should also ensure you have the ability to import call transcriptions into other solutions, which will add value to your existing tech stack and create a seamless workflow for visibility of action.
  • The Power to Understand and Predict: Artificial intelligence can help you quickly understand complex data in ways far deeper than just understanding trending topics. In addition to dialogue transcription and text analytics, speech solutions should also provide acoustic analytics that detect silent time, overtalk and vocal emotion. This enables more ways to see what topics are driving the most negative or positive customer impact and helps agents learn to solve customer pain in a way that increases satisfaction.
  • Automate Analysis and Empower Your Teams: Look at speech analytics from the lens of quality assurance: You now have the ability to automate call evaluation, which replaces a long manual process of QA listening to calls to evaluate agent performance. Having this automatic evaluation of each call, or rolled up to all calls for a specific agent or team, is of huge value and will enable time to be spent coaching for excellence.

By giving frontline agents their own dashboard, you can empower them to self-coach and improve areas of poor performance, especially crucial in remote working environments.

Future Proof Your Business: Think about your needs today, but stay agile in your approach. Avoid the per-seat model of buying speech analytics as you may find your workforce evolving into one that is both call center and remote. You may need to be able to flex up or down rapidly. Equally, while your demand remains steady, you could have a wider mix of shifts and a greater number of employees, so create a plan that maximizes occupancy and productivity. Also, make sure your chosen technology partner has an agile and significant roadmap that can grow with you.

Value Realization: Work with your partner upfront to make sure the solution is easy to use, intuitive and quick to deploy. Gone are the days of waiting nine to 12 months to get an on-premise solution stood up and then another 90 days to fine-tune before getting accurate results. Ask your partner what its current user engagement number looks like — this will tell you how much the technology is loved by its users. Make sure your license gives every user access to custom dashboards so everyone can see the data gold relevant to their role.

Although contact centers didn’t have any choice but to change as a result of COVID-19, valuable lessons have been learned as we start to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. Having the right technology in place and an agile approach to customer experience will be crucial to understanding your contact center customers and delivering seamless experiences across the entire customer journey.

Yasir Bugrara

Yasir Bugrara is Director of CX and CCaas at Voci. He has spent the last four years identifying and driving revenue generating business outcomes for enterprise organizations and partners through new technologies.

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