Understanding Contact Centers

Corinne Hebestreit January 05, 2019

In this blog, we’re going to talk about one of the most common places you’ll find speech to text technology implemented -- or, at least, where it probably should be implemented. This one is all about contact centers. Sometimes also called a call center, a contact center is an office designed to handle phone calls for a business. Sometimes, contact centers will handle calls for lots of different businesses; other times, a contact center is dedicated specifically to one. Contact centers can also be centralized in a single location, or split across several offices. There are even contact centers that consist of people taking calls from home! Whatever the exact configuration, a contact center’s purpose is to connect agents, who represent a business, with customers.

There’s a lot of specialized terms used in the contact center world. One is agent satisfaction. While agents in a contact center may not receive a report card, their agent satisfaction score measures their ability to help customers over the phone. The higher the score, the better the agent is doing at making customers happy.

One way to improve agent satisfaction is to have agents succeed at first call resolution. Customers do not want to have to call several times to get an issue resolved. First call resolution means that the agent successfully listened to and solved a customer’s issue in a one and done deal.

In order for first call resolution to occur, the agent must be a good listener that lets the customer fully share their opinions. However, during these natural conversations, things do not play out perfectly the way scripts do, and people interrupt one another when speaking. When more than one person speaks at the same time during a conversation, it is called overtalk. This is can be a problem for recording calls, as multiple people speaking at the same time distorts the audio. When it comes to STT, the software can have difficulty picking apart the different speakers. 

There’s lots of ways that contact centers try to get those agent satisfaction scores up. One such strategy is called workforce optimization. Workforce optimization combines different tools and processes to promote customer experience and operational efficiency. This can include automating processes through technology like STT and speech analytics, and using that data to locate areas of weakness in the business and identify opportunities for improvement.

Workforce optimization is sort of similar to business intelligence or business analytics. It is pretty focused on customer experience and operational efficiency, while business intelligence focuses on gathering and analyzing data across the business as a whole. Business intelligence draws insights into a wide range of business activities, including the success of marketing, the efficiency of operations, and the satisfaction of customers. Artificial intelligence offers a set of powerful methods for analyzing the huge volumes of data necessary for effective business intelligence.

So far, we’ve talked about the agent and company side of the interaction. What about the customer side? There’s a few important terms that are used here. One is CSAT, or Customer SATisfaction. When your company puts out a new service or develops a new product, you want to know the reactions of your customers. Even when you’re not doing anything new, you still want to know how things are going. It is rewarding to see your customers raving about your company on social media, on the web, on the phone -- wherever they may be. CSAT is measured by sending a simple survey, such as “How satisfied were you with our service today?”, and a 1-5 rating.

Another way to track customer experience is by using the Net Promoter Score or NPS. NPS is measured by asking customers how likely they would be to recommend your brand to their friends or colleagues on a scale of 0 to 10. These responses are separated into three groups, based on the numerical scores provided. Scores from 9 to 10 are promoters. These are your devoted customers who refer others to your company and value your work tremendously. Scores from 7 to 8 are passive customers. The passive response group does not dislike your brand, but they are easily motivated to give their attention to your competitors when offered incentives. These customers can be plucked away from you when better offers are available. Lastly, scores of 0 to 6 are responses from your company’s detractors. Detractors are not satisfied with your company, and they risk decreasing your company’s growth if they share their negative opinions with others. From all these recorded responses, you get the NPS by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. This measurement does not focus on a customer’s opinions of a single purchase or instance with your company, rather it shares a customer’s overall opinion of your brand.

That is it for the common terms you will encounter in the world of contact centers! In the next blog, we’ll be talking about some of the terms used in a very specialized area of business, where STT can offer a lot of support: Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC). Click here for Part 6!

This blog is part of a series!

Corinne Hebestreit

Corinne's free time consists of boating on Pittsburgh's rivers in the summer months, and keeping her nose in a book no matter what time of year it is. She also uses her love of coffee as a valid excuse to avoid getting enough sleep.

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