Enterprise Apps


How Speech Self-Service Dramatically Improves Call Centers

Companies’ integrated voice recognition (IVR) applications are being stretched thinner and thinner. Even with the best interface designs in place, customers are still abandoning calls before completion.

Forty-three percent of companies surveyed in the Aberdeen Contact Center Analytics benchmark report are either seeing poorer performance in call abandonment rates or don’t measure this key performance indicator (KPI) at all!

As a result, companies continue to search for ways to improve this interaction and, by definition, Best-in-Class (BIC) lead the way. BIC firms attempt to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering speech self-service.

Empowering Customers

A well designed speech self-service application does a number of things. First, it empowers the customer to resolve issues on their own. Customers can interact with the contact center at any time and place of their choosing.

A speech self-service application also reduces the number of agents required to support the customers and frees up existing agents for more complex tasks. By adding speech self-service to the current IVR stack, companies provide a more robust and complete customer experience. Aberdeen recently surveyed more than 325 companies to identify the challenges and benefits associated with implementing a speech self-service application.

Measurable Effects

Aberdeen measured four key performance criteria to identify BIC companies. Those companies saw the following performance improvements when implementing speech self service.

  • 100 percent improved performance in call abandonment rates
  • 95 percent improved customer satisfaction
  • 92 percent improved first contact closure rate
  • 67 percent lowered their cost per contact

This demonstrates that companies that are utilizing speech self service technologies are seeing improvements not only operationally but financially.

This survey results also show that the firms enjoying BIC performance share several common characteristics. Fifty percent utilize analytics to track call center performance across all available channels (i.e. self-service, chat, e-mail and phone). By utilizing analytics BIC companies have better visibility into both the current and historical state.

The IVR is the cornerstone for a speech self-service application and BIC companies (71 percent) have an IVR-enabled phone service installed. Another key enabling technology for speech self-service is agent training and coaching. When transferring from self-service to a live agent it is critical the agents understand how the speech self-service application has been implemented. Eighty-two percent of the BIC companies have agent training and coaching in place.

Finally, BIC firms lead the way by understanding how their agents interact with the customer. By monitoring the agents and their calls they will get a realistic view of what the customer interaction is. It also gives the BIC firms insight into some of the qualitative aspects of the interaction: What was the emotional state of the customer? What are the customer’s priorities? How did the agent react to the customer’s issues? The insight provided by answering these questions allows BIC firms to adapt and improve their customer interactions.

Getting There

Achieving BIC performance requires contact centers to do some of the following:

  • Increase investment in contact center processes infrastructure and resources. Lagging companies are not investing in their infrastructure. Fifty-one percent of lagging companies are either not investing or decreasing their investments in their contact center infrastructure.
  • Even BIC companies need to enhance their usage of speech self service. By implementing the following technologies they can take their speech self service applications to the next level:
    • Natural Language Understanding
    • Speech Synthesis
    • Voice Browser Call Control (CCXML)

Speech self-service is a critical enabler to the future success of the contact center. As with all new technologies, there are challenges with deployment and having the necessary skills in house, the time is now to begin looking at speech self-service. It is rapidly becoming the differentiator for improving the customer experience.

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