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Language Matters

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The use of speech analytics in the contact centre environment is fairly widespread, but its use in a post-call survey is a new application with important benefits for companies wanting to raise the bar in customer service.

It is doubtful how accurate conventional post-call surveys are. A survey of 362 companies conducted by Bain & Company in the US in 2006 revealed a startling incongruity. Companies were asked if they were delivering a superior service, and 80% replied “yes”. Their customers were asked if they were receiving a superior service and only 8% replied “yes”. Clearly management did not have accurate information. Many people have an intense dislike of call centres but the companies believe that they are delivering a better service.

Speech analytics is able to detect a customer’s mood, monitor his/her tone and react to key words (e.g. swear words). Using speech analytics in a post-call survey, the contact centre can automatically detect how that customer is feeling – not necessarily from the content of their responses, but from the tone. That may not solve the call centre-dislike syndrome but it may give management pointers to what puts customers off!

“If the analytic software detects that a customer is upset, it is able to transfer the call immediately to a team leader or supervisor who can deal with the problem there and then. This is revolutionary for problem resolution”, said Dave Paulding.

Over the past few years, contact centre managers have woken up to the fact that they need to do more to get an accurate view of their customers’ experience of their service. As technology advances, companies are choosing post-call surveys over mailed questionnaires and follow-up calls as they have a relatively high response rate – 10 to 15% versus 2% in mailed surveys – they are cheap to implement, and companies can get the results quickly.

But while post-call surveys enable the company to get a view on service areas that could be improved, as well as input into agent training that may be required, the customer who received the bad service still leaves the contact centre with a problem.

“We are now working on interactive speech analysis with the focus on emotion detection. We have written algorithms that will set thresholds to detect anger, increase in voice speed and increase in voice pitch, all indicating that the customers are getting annoyed.

“One could pull a few recordings and analyse the reasons why customers are unhappy and perhaps intervene by giving the agent more training. But where does that leave the customer? For him or her the damage is done! We are now working on a system that monitors the conversation in real time and will alert the supervisor if a call handling is going awry. The supervisor can listen in and whisper-coach the agent as the call progresses or if necessary take over the call and rescue the situation.

“In the real time speech analysis process the system is able to monitor both sides of the conversation and provide the supervisor with the option to intervene if either side is getting hot under the collar.”

Talking to call centre managers it becomes clear that while the customer is king, some “kings” also do not know how to behave and bombard the agent with strong and unacceptable language, often becoming outright abusive. If a real-time speech analyses system is installed, the supervisor can come online and politely calm down the customer and explain that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Call centre managers in the telecommunications environment have their hands full to assist the agent in dealing with difficult and often unreasonable customers. A real-time intelligent speech analyses system will go a long way to win customers and keep agents happy in their job.

“We have incorporated all the facilities in our core system which means customer can buy the licences for the model they require and upgrade when one of the other inbuilt facilities are required”, said Paulding.

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Written by techran

September 22, 2008 at 9:20 am

Posted in For Fun, Industry News

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