Speech analytics − why it isn’t taking the contact centre world by storm.

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The promise of speech analytics is irresistible: Definitive, irrefutable insights into our relationships with customers based on an exhaustive analysis of every conversation. The opportunity to refine every process and optimise every interaction. Who could resist? However, most organisations are resisting. Research from the Professional Planning Forum reveals that there are no more than 12 contact centres in the UK using analytics in a mature way.1
Why?
The truth is speech analytics won’t be adopted at scale unless and until there is a radical new approach to pricing. In short, the cost of ownership is often simply too high and pushes ROI out to an unacceptable time horizon.
Our examination of typical speech analytics deployments point to two clear problems…
First, speech analytics is being seen, fundamentally, as a technology sell. And, because many speech analytics technology vendors still use per−seat licensing deals that carry annual maintenance and upgrade charges, the cost of ownership over a five year period is discouragingly high. In addition, staff costs to write the search queries and interpret the results have to be factored in. As a result, the true cost of ownership is between two and three times higher than the initial licence purchase.
Second, ROI is dependent not only on effective use of the technology to gain actionable insights, but on the implementation and success of subsequent business improvement programmes based on those insights. Even if the required changes are restricted to the contact centre this can take time. If, as is more likely, other areas of the business are also affected, the complexity of the improvement programme required and the time needed to implement will grow exponentially. And, of course, this is the piece your technology vendor typically can’t help you with.
Based on our modelling, we estimate that you may well wait between two and four years for your speech analytics deployment to achieve positive ROI. Most organisations simply can’t afford such long time horizons, and would be reluctant to take on the overhead burden in these financially challenging times.
Time for a rethink.
The traditional speech analytics technology purchase assumes you will monitor calls 24/7. We think that’s overkill. For many purposes a good quality snap−shot of the business and its performance will provide sufficient insight to frame the requirements for business improvement. That will mean running analytics for a set period of time, over a representative set of calls. As the improvement programme progresses, and definitely at its conclusion, periodic analytic runs will allow progress to be evaluated.
Quite simply, today’s speech analytics buyers are paying for permanent, uninterrupted access to a technology they need only use on an occasional basis. It’s like buying a season ticket for the train when you only need to make six journeys a year. We say, keep your money in your pocket and pay only for the journeys you make.
We advocate a fresh approach. One that combines periodic access to analytics technology, combined with the expertise to interpret the findings and formulate business change plans. A combination of business improvement consultancy, powered by analytics technology accessed on an ‘as needed’ model. Since it’s unlikely that the technology vendors will ever provide this, others just might.
1 ‘How to Gain Measurable Benefit from Speech Analytics’ A PPF Best Practice Guide
Posted by Paul MacKenzie, Ember Services