Many factors go into choosing an ASR solution. Its accuracy is important. So is its speed, and multiple other considerations. But for most businesses, cost plays a significant role.
As VP of Operations, I look at a specific solution’s features as well as its cost, as ROI considerations are central in my day-to-day operations. As everyone knows, some vendors are fairly transparent about deliverables and their cost. Others, however, hide details in small fonts, which can lead to unexpected surprises.
Mitigating such risks requires you to ask pointed questions during the evaluation process, to make sure you understand the true TCO and ROI of a specific solution. When I’m approving the purchase of a product or service, I always ask what I’m paying for and if I’m paying for more than I need. Keep in mind that if a vendor can’t — or won’t — give you clear answers to these and other questions, it’s probably best to look somewhere else.
In the overall market, many products and services sell on brand recognition. For example, putting “Gucci” or “Versace” on a handbag can skyrocket its price. The same holds true for ASR solutions. Some brand names known throughout the industry expect their customers to pay a premium for using their products without providing additional benefits.
Would you get better service from a brand name? Is it really at the forefront of technology? Does its team try to solve your unique issues or only provide off-the-shelf solutions? Sometimes, a boutique vendor that listens to your needs and has the brain power to solve your issue is a better choice than the brand name.
Another factor that goes into TCO of an ASR solution is its processing speed. The faster the transcription can be generated, and the smaller the hardware footprint, the lower its cost of ownership will be.
If finding actionable insights faster enables you to gain a competitive advantage as well as a quicker ROI, then you need an ASR solution with real-time transcription that helps you make decisions as calls happen. More robust ASR offerings also enable you to search recorded calls in near-real time for particular portions of agent-customer conversations. Make sure any ASR solution has a consistent, high processing speed and real-time capabilities during its evaluation.
Transcription accuracy is also vital. However, some vendors throttle back on accuracy if you purchase a lower-priced package. To get the accuracy you really need, be prepared to pay a much higher cost per minute. Always ask ASR vendors what kind of accuracy you can expect at your price point.
In addition, be careful you’re not buying more than what you really want or need. For instance, have you ever had to pay extra for a particular product or service because it was only offered as part of a package deal (cable TV, anyone?). There are even similarly priced package “deals” and common pricing structures offered by some ASR vendors.
The first has you pay for a full package of products like a complete data analytics suite when you only need transcription software. Or you pay for extra features that you don’t want but can’t be separated from the features you actually need.
Another involves built-in professional services charges. You might have to pay for integration, deployment, development, training — or any combination thereof — even if you have your own in-house resources that can handle these tasks.
You also might have to choose between pricing per seat (agent) and pricing per consumption (minute-based). Will you be better off paying for an ASR solution by the number of agents in your call center or by the actual minutes of audio they are producing? Know which choice results in a lower cost before committing to a deal.
A variant of the agent vs. minute-based pricing structure involves user accounts. Do you need to get (and pay for) additional user accounts for supervisors so that your call center agents are regularly trained and retrained? Some vendors enable you to create as many accounts as you need, while others put a cap the number of accounts.
Lastly, support for governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) is a major factor in choosing an ASR solution. Depending on your vertical space, requirements such as automatically removing sensitive customer information (Social Security numbers, for example) or redacting Personal Identifiable Information (PII) (like patient records) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) data (such as credit card information) during transcription may be a must. What’s more, if you’re doing business with Europe, your ASR solution should enable you to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) privacy directives regarding the storage and processing of personal information gathered during transactions.
As you see, there are many considerations that affect the cost of an ASR solution and its ROI. In the final cost analysis, choosing which ASR solution that will work best for you comes from having a clear understanding of your exact business needs and knowing you shouldn’t have to pay for more than is necessary.