Speech analytics, also known as audio mining, structures conversations and finds hidden insights, implicit customer needs and the root cause of issues embedded in conversations. It can check on how well enterprise staff complies with scripts and regulations. Speech analytics applications capture customer conversations and transform them into metadata that can be searched. The structured conversations are then analyzed using a variety of techniques, including keyword, phrase, concept and contextual search. Some speech analytics applications are able to identify concepts and trends that enterprise managers don’t even know exist. This enables call center managers and executives to address the issues that generate call volume and to identify competitive challenges and new revenue opportunities. It also gives marketing and sales managers highly valuable, actionable and timely insights into customer preferences and trends that they can use to increase customer retention, build their brand and increase revenue.

Speech analytics applications are compelling because they deliver benefits to an enterprise’s bottom line; they reduce costs and increase revenue while improving the customer experience. Speech analytics applications contribute to marketing departments by identifying competitive challenges and opportunities on a timely basis, when it’s still early enough for the enterprise to create a campaign to respond appropriately. Speech analytics can be used to identify at-risk customers and successful retention methods. It can detect a marketing campaign or product collateral that is causing negative reactions or confusing customers. It can be used to identify new product ideas and enhancements and to gain an appreciation of general customer opinions about a company, its products and the competitive environment. It is also a great tool for understanding customer and market trends. Speech analytics is very important from a public relations perspective. While it may be rare, companies do occasionally misstep and generate negative publicity. Speech analytics functions as an early warning system and can notify management of an issue before it impacts a large segment of the customer base or becomes an issue in the press. For sales organizations, speech analytics can be used to identify ways to increase sales conversion rates. Speech analytics can be used to segment customers and to identify the most appropriate channel for selling to them. A speech analytics application can capture customer-provided information and use it to better satisfy customers by interacting with them in their channel of choice, while also increasing sales conversion rates. Additionally, customers are pleased when an enterprise listens to them, which helps build customer loyalty. For call center managers, speech analytics provides valuable customer insights and identifies the root cause of calls on a timely basis. This enables managers to reduce call volume, improve quality and reduce customer attrition. It’s also a great tool for making sure agents meet regulatory requirements and adhere to scripts. For fraud departments, speech analytics can quickly pick up on new schemes and prevent major losses. It can also be used to identify individuals who are engaged in fraudulent activity. For collections groups, speech analytics emotion detection can be used to measure stress levels to determine if customers are telling the truth when they make a promise to pay. By identifying customers at risk of defaulting on a loan or payment early on, an enterprise can intervene promptly and reduce their losses. Speech analytics initiatives generally yield a rapid ROI in three to 12 months. Success depends upon setting realistic expectations, concentrating on one initiative at a time and allocating appropriate resources to the project. The value of the findings will increase as users customize the solutions for their operating environment and improve the accuracy of their searches and queries. Figure 1 shows a few of the categories where enterprises can achieve both hard and soft benefits from speech analytics. Hard benefits are relatively easy to quantify and are generally accepted by chief financial officers in ROI analyses. Soft benefits are often substantial, but are difficult to justify. There are many more benefits, but these are currently the more common areas where speech analytics is being applied. There have been some situations where one initiative, such as using speech analytics to increase the sales closure rate by identifying where scripts broke down, has resulted in returns of millions of dollars. Another area where speech analytics has delivered outstanding results is in identifying ways to reduce customer attrition. In these initiatives and other highly successful ones, there was a great deal of corporate support. To date, initiatives that have concentrated on cost savings have yielded smaller benefits than those where the effort was revenue-oriented.

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