Beyond WFO: New Reasons to Deploy Speech Analytics

Opus Research surveyed more than 500 decision makers around the world to learn about their perceptions of speech analytics and delve into factors that have driven them to implement speech analytics platforms as part of their customer care strategies. The research was underwritten by Uniphore, a provider of speech processing platforms, whose portfolio includes speech analytics, virtual assistant, and voice biometrics solutions.

This was a repeat performance for Opus Research. In 2016, we used a similar instrument to gauge the perceived maturity of speech analytics solutions, understand the key drivers that lead to evaluation and ultimate implementation of those solutions, and enumerate the constraints or concerns that can put the dampers on implementation plans. This time around, as a sign of maturity, we found that a surprisingly large percentage of respondents are very familiar with speech analytics and its applications. More importantly, they could tell us exactly why they had decided to look into the technology and how they expect their companies to benefit from implementing speech analytics in their customer care fabric.

Last year, when enumerating reasons to deploy speech analytics in their contact centers, respondents reflected the priorities of the customer experience community. Rapid detection of customer frustration was cited by 55 percent of respondents. Quick identification of customer intent came in second at 52 percent, followed by support of workforce pptimization at 50 percent.

Citation of that triumvirate is totally understandable and achievable. Rudimentary word spotting could be used to detect customer frustration. If done in real time, that would lead to rapid discovery of a customer's intent, and when integrated with agent monitoring and training procedures, it dovetails nicely with workforce optimization strategies and tactics.

This time around, another driver rocketed to the top of the list of reasons to deploy: compliance with laws and regulations. Based on all the inquiries that Opus Research has fielded about Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards compliance, this observation rings true. Speech analytics can be used in post-call analysis to identify points in a conversation when a caller might be reciting a credit card number and security code or other personal information.

More recently we've witnessed an upwell of concern surrounding the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) in Europe. When they go into full effect in May 2018, governments will have the power to levy fines of up to 20 million euros (limited to 4 percent of top-line revenue) from companies that fail to disclose their policies surrounding treatment of private data and personal information or whose agents fall short of following scripts that are designed to prevent accidental leakage of such data to contact center staff. Speech analytics engines are excellent tools for detecting such breaches.

The data from the study contained strong signals that speech analytics can help companies adapt to future trends. For instance, nearly three-quarters of respondents in North America see a role for speech analytics to play in supporting integration with multichannel/omnichannel customer support. More than 70 percent in all regions covered acquired speech analytics platforms to support real-time agent prompting, like suggesting next-best actions through screen pops.

Results of the tracking study also reveal that costs are no longer a major deterrent to adoption. It's not that solutions are inexpensive, although a cloud-based software-as-a-service model has greatly reduced upfront capital spending. It is that the respondents that we surveyed easily achieved their ROI objectives. More than 85 percent had achieved positive ROI in two years or less. Indeed less than one-fifth of respondents mentioned expense as a barrier to adoption.

Finally, our most recent study exposed the emerging trend toward employing speech analytics engines as tools for providing business insights to departments outside the contact center. Significant numbers of respondents acknowledged the value of reports from speech analytics engines to enable marketing to assess customer attitudes toward competitors, support retention efforts, and provide feedback to sales, marketing, customer support, and billing regarding the root cause of failure to achieve performance objectives.

Dan Miller is founder and lead analyst at Opus Research.