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How to use speech analytics to shape your contact centre KPIs

6th Mar 2014
Founder Brainfood Consulting
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The introduction of speech analytics into the operational environment of your contact centres is a milestone as far as KPI management is concerned.

The immediate benefit speech analytics offers is to help explain why the level of performance for a particular KPI is higher or lower than expected. In other words you can connect goal achievement with specific behaviour(s). This facilitates the ability to improve performance. Even share best practice when performance levels are exceptional.

How great would this be?

You: “Why has this KPI suddenly increased 12% over the last two weeks?”

Informed manager: “The insights which the speech analytics team came back with shows that this is a combination of the following…… These centre on the new claims workflow recently introduced which is causing customers to react like this … which the advisors are attempting to deal with by doing the following…So far this has happened x times over x weeks and cost us…… ”

This is a big deal for every leadership generation raised on ACD style reporting which can only tell the pattern of performance, not its cause. Of course root cause analysis has always been possible. Albeit in painfully slow ways, via manual sampling, advisor feedback and the accumulated market know-how of those in charge to second guess what’s going on. Even then, this approach has been restricted to relatively simple scenarios.

In the outline example I just gave, the diagnosis can happen almost as fast as a situation unfolds. In the most sophisticated deployments of speech analytics, an automated, exception-based alert will have triggered someone’s awareness of something going wrong. This will have been quickly followed by a decision to investigate and source a solution.

Even when traditional feedback via advisor to team leader to site manager provides the early warning system, overall responsiveness is still massively improved with speech analytics. For a start, fixing things is so much easier when a situation is fully understood and backed up with clear evidence. Especially so when the cause of an issue lies outside the contact centre’s direct control which is often the case.

So the net result is a win all around. Fewer customers suffer. Less advisor time is wasted and contact centre budgets are not blown out of the water throwing resource at the problem.

In summary, the immediate benefit of Interaction Analytics is that you will be achieving more of your KPIs more of the time.

Why KPIs come and go

So far we have explored the impact that speech analytics can have on your current mix of KPIs. I now want to introduce an even more powerful benefit. This can be achieved after you have been using Interaction Analytics for a while. Discovering which KPIs really matter!

As I’m sure you know, this is an ongoing discussion within our industry. Of course we all accept the start point in the argument that ‘you can only improve what you can measure’. This is typically followed with the point that we tend to measure what we can rather than what need to. Again, most of us have accepted this advice in principle.

These days, most contact centres are putting more attention on improving FCR (first call resolution) than AHT (average handle time) which has been downgraded as a primary indicator of success. Although record attendance levels for AHT webinars even in 2013 show many maintain a guilty fascination in the topic!

My own involvement in the UK based P&Q Challenge tells me we are still in the middle of transitioning from a predominantly internal set of metrics to include the outside-in view, the customer experience. It is still the old debate about Efficiency versus Effectiveness. Which is the most powerful to focus on?

So KPIs evolve according to industry collective wisdom. Of course, they also vary according to the business goals that the contact centre is supporting. A service based operation needs to track certain unique behaviour(s) relative to a sales operation.

Finally the KPI portfolio can change simply from the introduction of a new leadership team; bringing with them a favoured set of metrics. These are often layered on top of existing ones.

Add all this together and we see one of the abiding issues in KPI management. The tendency towards having too many and therefore losing focus on what really matters.

Figuring out your best KPIs

So how can speech analytics help in the selection of relevant KPIs for your business?

As I said earlier, ongoing use of speech analytics provides a much richer stream of insight into what is happening in your operational environment. After a while the real drivers of core business performance become much clearer through ongoing tracking of root causes and identification of best practice.

It is at this point that a strategic review of your KPI mix is worthwhile. Apparently KPI experts recommend between 6-8 KPIs as ideal. So within that advice you can now review existing KPIs and their real value in helping you achieve key business goals.

Probably you will discover some of these are rejected in favour of newly discovered drivers unearthed from Interaction Analytic assignments. They may even be ones unique to your business activity. For instance an insurance company might have discovered a key driver to annual retention. A home appliances service business might have identified the single most important behaviour that determines customer NPS (Net Promoter Scores).

Of course you might discover that your current mix is fine. However your ability to track them and understand why that performance delta has just happened will have been transformed with the automated sleuthing power speech analytics delivers.

It might even allow you to finally get a grip on how to measure FCR accurately!

Take away insight

Having accurate, timely insight into why performance changes over time transforms KPI management. Interaction Analytics delivers that insight.

Martin Hill-Wilson is a keynote speaker, author and director of Brainfood Consulting. His latest book is ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ which is now available from Amazon. This article is adapted from an original post on Brainfood Extra

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