Voice of the customer and speech analytics complement each other in such a way that lacking either significantly diminishes the other. To understand, we need to look at each individually and then collectively.
Voice of the customer
Voice of the customer (VoC), typically in the form of automated post-call surveys, has been deployed in call centers since the early 2000's. Today VoC comes in many flavors from basic touchtone response to sophisticated enterprise feedback management systems. The better contact center applications allow feedback by both touchtone and free-form speech. VoC tools are used to measure qualitative evaluations to customer care such as customer satisfaction and first call resolution.
Speech analytics is a spectrum of software tools that automates the process of sifting through thousands of hours of recorded customer interactions to uncover otherwise-hidden gems. The tool analyzes spoken content, searching for key words and phrases that can be used to categorize calls. As with VoC, there are a range of tools from the basic to the highly sophisticated. The good news is that the cost for software and storage has come down sharply over the years making speech analytics affordable to even the smaller contact centers.
Using the two together
VoC provides the measuring stick, speech analytics answers the question why. Consider the example of Flamboyant an online retailer that sells to 15-30 -year-olds who have a penchant for standing out from the crowd. Flamboyant has been in business for seven years and has grown by 30% every year. They advertise heavily on hipster video touting their toll-free number 1-800-GET-COOL. Over half of their business comes through the contact center. From the outset they measured customer satisfaction through a post-call survey and chose to invest in speech analytics.
Trish Campbell manages the contact center. As she was pouring over customer satisfaction ratings she noticed what appeared to be an anomaly. Customer satisfaction took a sizable dip during the month of June in each of the last three years. Historically, top box customer satisfaction was stable throughout the year until the Christmas rush when customers got stressed.
“ But why June? ”
An examination of quality scores revealed nothing other than ordinary fluctuations. She called a meeting of her five supervisors and asked what was going on. As expected, there were numerous theories but no clear consensus. Then Tom Wilson, her top supervisor, suggested they run an analysis of the recorded comments made by less-than-completely satisfied customers during the month of June. Tom presented his findings at the next supervisors meeting. He explained that the only significant difference between June and other months was the volume of complaints about being put on hold while agents searched for answers to their questions. At that point Trish recalled that three years ago they made a change to vacation schedules to reward the most senior people with their choice of vacation times. For whatever reasons they usually chose June. Their slots were filled by part-timers. Now it became clear that her top people should not be all going on vacation in the same month. She also made mental notes to do a better job of training part-timers and to start collecting first call resolution data through the VoC tool. Tom was rewarded with a $100 gift card to buy anything he wanted at the store. Being a quiet guy who normally preferred to blend in rather than stand out, he gave the gift card to his sister.
“ Now it became clear that her top people should not be all going on vacation in the same month. ”