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Talk About Driving Value—Using Speech Analytics to Improve the Bottom Line

Your customers are talking to you every day. Typically it’s regarding a problem or need. Often, utilities focus on addressing that problem or need, then move on to the next customer. But interest in these conversations shouldn’t end after the customer’s need is addressed. These customer interactions are key to unlocking a broader, richer and more valuable understanding of the Voice of the Customer.

By using speech analytics, utilities can extract intelligence that can dramatically impact the utility’s bottom line, including increasing program enrollment, decreasing customer churn, improving operational efficiencies, lowering the cost of service, and ultimately improving customer satisfaction.

Speech Analytics Helps Improve Customer Experience & Reduce Cost of Service

While utilities have started to analyze data across many customer touch points, they have neglected their most popular and rich channel: calls coming into the contact center. By analyzing these voice interactions in detail, utilities are able to determine a litany of insights:  customer sentiment, call drivers, self-service opportunities, process improvement opportunities, agent behaviors, enrollment opportunities, customer feedback and FCR (First Call Resolution) opportunities. Speech analytics unlocks critical insight to address questions such as:

  • Why are my customers calling?
  • What calls are driving customer frustration?
  • What self-service opportunities are being missed?
  • Which interactions are driving repeat calls, and why?
  • How can we achieve a better understanding of customer satisfaction survey results and identify improvement opportunities?

Speech data is typically unstructured, but analytics allows utilities to identify the many topics and needs expressed in a single call. Using advanced techniques such as phonetic indexing, speech analytics provides accurate, structured, and quantitative analysis of 100% of recorded customer conversations. Using language, silence, cross-talk and variations in tone of voice, speech analytics can also provide insight into customer sentiment, which can help identify opportunities to improve the customer experience. And the analysis doesn’t end with customers: utilities can evaluate agents to assess how they are representing the utility and if there is an opportunity to improve customer perception. Some utilities find that analyzing the ‘Voice of the Utility’ leads to improvements in customer enrollment in programs such as online bill pay, self-service and others that boost customer satisfaction, and lower the cost of service.

The Business Case for Investment in Speech Analytics

Applications of speech analytics in a utility’s contact center are numerous and far reaching. Below are the top 7 use cases to document and support the business case.

Fundamentally, speech analytics provides the ability to use data as an advocacy for change.

Want to Get the Most from Speech Analytics? Turn to Speech Analytics-as-a-Service

Although the opportunity is clear, many utilities face challenges in getting the most value from speech analytics. Sometimes, customers imply a lot without actually saying it. In conversations with utilities who’ve acquired the technology and used internal resources to extract insight, we have found that some have been less than impressed with the results. In our experience, extracting value from speech analytics requires a unique combination of skills – that is, it is part art and part science. Two ingredients are key to success beyond the technology itself: 1) incorporating industry- and region-specific vernacular in the ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) queries; and 2) expert analysis to identify important trends in the data and recommend actions.

By building multiple combinations of region-specific phonetically spelled language phrases, like “ah was on yer website” or "tried ta do it online”, the analytics can work much harder for the utility. In the library of phonemes Vertex has created for our customers, there are over 1000 ready-to-use utility-specific phrase lists. Depending on the business objective, queries need to be combined using Boolean logic in search operations to search in specific time segments of conversations to find a match against desired scenarios.

Like consulting your doctor to read your blood test and provide recommendations to improve your health, utilities need an analytics expert to truly benefit from what speech analytics data is telling them. Utilities can tap into the expertise of trained analytics experts for immediate access to actionable insight, through consulting, or ‘insight services’ that should come packaged with the technology.

According to the Utility Analytics Institute, spending on analytics is expected to total more than $2 billion in 2016. This reflects the value analytics offers utilities, though finding good use cases and getting started has proved a bit challenging. Speech analytics offers a powerful tool to improve customer experience. It’s also available ‘as-a-service,’ allowing utilities the flexibility to turn it on quickly and easily, and benefit from having third party experts host and manage the technology.

By leveraging speech analytics, utilities can evolve beyond the tactical, day-to-day grind of call management and take a strategic stance toward improving the customer experience. The voice of the customer is there, and there’s good reason for utilities to listen closely.

Chirag Shah's picture

Thank Chirag for the Post!

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Pam Jeffries's picture
Pam Jeffries on July 19, 2016

If this article piqued your interest, and you'd like to hear more about speech analytics use cases for utilities, Chirag is speaking on a webinar August 2. You can sign up for it here: 

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