How Speech Analytics Affect the Outcome of Calls

By the time a customer has contacted a live agent, they’ve probably tried to troubleshoot the problem on their own with self-service tools. When they’ve reached the point of wanting to speak with someone, they’re already part of the way through their customer journey. Real-time speech analytics take into account customer history so they can pick up where they left off instead of starting from the beginning.

Real-time speech analytics help agents determine the right thing to say to a customer in the moment in a variety of situations. On top of making sure the customer is directed to the correct agent or department, this technology also gives agents the current, relevant information they need to solve the customer’s problem. Examples of up-to-the-minute information agents will receive include:

  • Issues that are trending on social media.
  • Topics customers are currently calling about the most.
  • Recent updates to products or services.

Real-time speech analytics technology, combined with information being fed to agents in the moment, means that the customer support offered will be tailored to the individual.

Management can program speech analytics to choose agent scripts based on specific speech cues. Software is able to identify words and phrases that are present as well as those that are absent. The software also takes into account sentiment; the point in a call when a word or phrase is said; and the absence of a word or phrase when it should have been said. On top of improving the course of a call while an agent is on the phone, speech analytics can also pinpoint larger gaps in training and find areas for improvement.

The best speech analytics technology will understand the context of a conversation in order to appropriately guide the agent. Customer calls are analyzed in real-time and conversational indicators make it possible for agents to proactively handle a call in a way that’s highly beneficial to the customer.

Advanced speech analytics software helps contact centers in a number of ways. It increases first call resolution and improves the customer experience. It monitors agents for regulation compliance and adherence to company policies. Agents can also use real-time speech analytics to recognize and take advantage of sales opportunities.

How to Determine Whether a Contact Center Enhances the Customer Experience…or Detracts from it

It’s no secret …every time that a customer is involved with a company, they are evaluating whether to continue doing business with it. This makes every interaction critical, whether it’s a simple transactional exchange or high-impact conversation. Each interaction provides an opportunity to deliver the best possible customer experience, but it also presents the danger of a creating a negative impression that permanently damages the relationship. The contact center is of course the pivotal point of that customer journey. When agents don’t have the right tools, a business doesn’t just miss out on the chance to make a good impression, it could actually lose customers.

But how can an organization objectively and accurately evaluate how effective their contact center solution is in enabling a superior customer experience? Factors that need to be taken into consideration include:

  • Channel capabilities. Are customers able to reach out to the business via a variety of key methods, beyond just voice and IVR, such as web, chat email, text, social media and mobile? Are there preference management options in place that allow customers to consistently access their channel of choice? Are agents trained to guide interactions through multiple contact channels?
  • Convenience/speed/self-service. Does the IVR recognize callers based on their phone number? Does it use Natural Language to better understand responses? Do agents have access to all necessary data, such as account information and contact history, across all channels? Is first contact resolution currently being measured and if so, how high is the rate?
  • Caller satisfaction/Customer journey. Are customer expectations as they apply to the contact center being analyzed? Is customer satisfaction currently being measured? Is agent performance being tracked as it relates to stated business objectives? Is the customer journey being mapped and if so, are common customer pain points and key moments being identified?

No two organizations will have the same answers to these questions. Almost all companies operate at a different level of technology. But every business can benefit from gaining a comprehensive overview of the experience its contact center provides, and from exploring the many ways it can be improved. Take part in a complimentary interactive workshop  that will offer an individualized internal analysis which can be used to help plan for necessary improvements.

It’s Time to Embrace Digital Channels and Build Smart Help


By Patrick Gallagher, Managing Director ANZ & North Asia

In my over 30 years of involvement in contact centres, IVR and customer experience applications, I’ve experienced companies investing millions in their contact centres to provide support to customers calling to purchase, enquire, complain, apply or seek assistance. Traditionally this has been the ‘tried-and-tested’ option as companies continued to invest in their contact centre in order to build their customer support capability. But, as customers have moved to digital channels, this approach is no longer enabling organisations to meet their customers’ expectations.

I drew on this experience in my recent Executive Interview with CRMXchange to discuss the growing popularity of online self-service and ensuring customers can resolve issues with minimal effort. It’s key for organisations to recognise that it’s more than just support today’s online customers want. They expect to purchase, enquire, complain, apply and get help effortlessly online. This means companies need to embrace the digital channels and build smart help online, not force customers to use a traditional search tool that returns pages and pages of results or give customers answers that say ‘To find out about this product, please call the contact centre’. There’s nothing smart about that, and it really creates a poor online experience for customers.

CRMXchange also asked me about using a combination of natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for improving the customer support experience. AI is certainly a hot topic around the world in the customer experience industry, and so I thought it important to share a word of caution about the ‘pure’ AI solutions on the market that are being promoted as virtual agents. While these technologies have a place in driving quantitative analysis of large volumes of data, they are not ready to be deployed for customer service and support. Organisations should look for virtual agents that employ self-learning capabilities, but in a way that still gives them control over the reliability of the responses.

Please check out my full interview for more on these topics as well as delivering personalised experiences to customers, making intelligent virtual agents available across all contact channels and using these solutions to complement the knowledge of live agents. You can also learn more about Creative Virtual’s technology and see our smart help tools in action by requesting a live demo.

My thanks to CRMXchange for the opportunity to participate in their Executive Interview series!

How to Conduct Phone Screen Interviews

How to Conduct Phone Screen Interviews

Traditional interviews are an important part of the hiring process. You can assess an applicant’s body language as they answer questions, cluing you into the type of customer service they offer and how well they’ll mesh with your company culture. However, starting with a short phone screening to quickly interview your best candidates is a smart step to take before sitting down to a longer interview. If you’re crunched for time, you can even ask candidates to record their answers to a series of questions and then listen to them at your convenience.

Complex questions requiring in-depth answers should be saved for the regular interview. The phone screen should be used to get answers to questions about the candidate’s skill set, job expectations and availability. Cover these four things in your phone screenings:

  1. Voice Your Concerns

Bring up any questions you have about the candidate’s resume. You may be impressed by 90% of the resume but still be worried about a glaring omission, like a missing technical skill or a gap in employment history.

  1. Find Out Their Expectations

Ask the candidate what attracted them to apply for the role. You can also request ahead of time that they come prepared with a wish list that includes things like the type of manager they hope to have and their ideal schedule flexibility.

  1. Compare Your Timetables

If you need to fill a role quickly but the applicant still has to give their employer notice, you’ll be short on staff in the interim. On the other hand, if the applicant has already left their job and are desperate for work, you may not be able to make a decision as quickly as they need one.

  1. Ask About Their Job Search

If you feel that the candidate is someone you want to hire, find out where they are in the job search process. A high-caliber candidate may have already received a job offer from another company, which means you’ll want to move forward quickly in order to get them on your team.

Aim to keep your phone screen under 30 minutes. Ask the same questions in the same order so that it’s easy to compare candidates once the screenings are complete. However, if you know by answer three that the applicant isn’t a good match, it’s fine to end the screening early.

How Contact Centers Use RPA

Robotic process automation (RPA) covers an assortment of advanced, intelligent tools that can carry out a variety of routine tasks. RPA systems are programmed to automate repetitive and rules-based actions that are normally performed manually by contact center agents. While these tasks are integral to the contact center as they help with essential functions, agents are most valuable when they can spend their time on more urgent and complex issues.

How Does RPA Work?

RPA integrates with contact center systems to catch and understand how various applications work. The RPA software is then taught to interpret different processes, such as processing certain types of transactions and triggering responses. RPA technology uses different tools to capture this digital data, such as image recognition and server access. Since RPA works at an interface level, it rarely needs IT support.

What Can You Automate with RPA?

There are a host of processes to automate with RPA. Everything from updating customer mailing addresses and order history to handling time-sensitive transactions for high-value customers can be programmed. While RPA has more in common with artificial intelligence than standard automation, it works best with processes that are defined, repetitious and rules-based. RPA can complete the following types of tasks:

  • Bill customers
  • Close fraudulent accounts
  • Compliance reporting
  • Order processing
  • Override transactions for VIP customers
  • Resolve disputes and complaints
  • Send shipping notifications
  • Update client profiles

RPA can also be programmed to carry out industry-specific tasks. For example, an insurance company may use RPA to generate renewal premiums and process claims. A bank could program RPA to process overdraft protection requests and credit applications. In the healthcare industry, RPA is used to register patients and verify credentials of healthcare providers. Human Resources departments can use RPA to manage W4 forms.

Will RPA Replace Live Workers?

There’s a lot of concern over whether or not RPA will impact staffing. It’s undeniable that RPA has numerous benefits for the contact center. It reduces agent workload, boosts efficiency and eliminates the risk of human error. The contact center overall enjoys a higher ROI and lower training costs. Customer interaction times are reduced and the customer experience as a whole is enhanced. While the answer depends on each specific company, some feel that instead of cutting down their staff, RPA is most useful because it allows companies to handle a higher work volume.

How Omni-lingual Support Enhances Today’s Global Customer Experiences

Shifting consumer expectations are putting more pressure on brands to provide seamless and relevant customer experiences. Tom Tseki, Vice President and General Manager, GeoFluent & Customer Care Solutions at Lionbridge explores how contact centers can adapt and meet customer needs by incorporating omni-lingual support into their strategies

In today’s shifting technological landscape, the expectations that consumers have when interacting with a brand are constantly changing. Voice has given way to self-service, and consumers are counting on real-time or near real-time service. At the same time, consumers increasingly prefer to learn, shop and transact in their native language and expect that brands communicate with them in that way. In fact, a recent study from Common Sense Advisory showed that 84 percent of consumers are more inclined to purchase products online when related information was presented in their own language.

This change in consumer behavior is also forcing brands and their contact centers to look at new and innovative ways to create quality customer experiences (CX) – and it all starts with language. A recent study from Lionbridge and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that a majority of contact center leaders are aware that customers expect to receive service in their native language when contacting a brand. However, 79 percent of contact centers have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) that they serve. In addition, voice is no longer the prominent channel for customer support which has paved the way for a slew of new channel and language support options.

To manage all of this successfully, contact centers should deploy strategic and scalable approaches that incorporate full omni-lingual support to reach customers regardless of time or geographic location. These strategies must take cultural nuances and preferences into account in order for brands to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Giving Customers More Options When They Need It

Language is perhaps the most important component for contact centers to have control over in effectively communicating with their customers. ICMI reports that language diversity is projected to increase over the next three years, with 52 percent of contact centers expecting the volume of non-primary language communications to increase over this time. As a result, contact centers must utilize new strategies to support non-primary language speaking customers.

While providing diverse language support is essential, it must also go hand-in-hand with multichannel support. A recent Forrester report shows that consumers as a whole no longer prefer voice – with 76 percent of respondents using company FAQ websites and 58 percent preferring online chat options. To address this, brands need to provide strategic support across all channels and languages to provide quality CX, including:

  • Self-service channels: Forrester reports that consumers are more likely to visit a website before picking up a phone, which is further heightened among the millennial generation who expect self-service options. Online chat is a critical component of effective online customer engagement; consumers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they are unable to find a resolution to their answer or can’t pursue a live chat option. As a result, savvy brands must provide self-service channels, from chat to forum/community and mobile support. These channels also need to be enabled with omni-lingual capabilities to benefit the widest group of customers possible. If the majority of content is presented in only a single or select group of languages, the channel isn’t helping non-primary speakers.
  • 24/7 support: As always-on, connected customers increasingly expect 24/7 service from anywhere, contact centers must reach customers in new ways, such as mobile and social, in real-time. By enabling diverse channel options coupled with comprehensive language support, brands can reduce the amount of overall inbound calls to their contact centers, saving precious dollars while enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Globalization strategies: Global markets are becoming increasingly diverse and connected, and the distinction between domestic and global is shrinking. As a result, even companies that don’t plan to expand geographically must manage their contact centers accordingly by creating plans to support their customers across all languages.
  • Journey streamlining: To better understand customer interactions and reduce overall customer effort, contact centers are looking to customer journey mapping. However, these are typically done in primary languages, which leads to challenges down the road for non-primary language speaking customers. As a result, progressive companies must extend journey mapping, planning and measurement to non-primary languages.

Looking Ahead

The contact center marketplace is going through a significant transformation, and it will likely continue to grow in complexity. Today’s contact centers must evolve their strategies and focus on self-service channels, 24/7 support, globalization strategies and journey streamlining to provide both omni-channel channel options and language support. The result is new opportunities for brands to engage and align with today’s digitally-savvy and demanding customers and further drive brand loyalty.

How to Recruit and Train Great Contact Center Agents

The contact center isn’t just a place where customers go when they need answers. It’s also an influential public relations tool, giving many customers a first impression of a company. A customer’s experience with a contact center can shape their future purchase decisions. Contact center agents need to be carefully chosen and well-trained in order to meet and exceed the needs of the customer.

  1. Hire Great People

It takes more time and energy to hire and train excellent agents than it does to hire the first person you sit down to interview, but the payoff is well worth it. To hire people who will excel at the job, create an Ideal Candidate Profile by assessing your best agents. What makes them great at their jobs? Hire agents with those qualities.

  1. Test Their Memory

In order for contact center agents to deliver superb customer care, they have to learn and remember so much about a business’ products or services. They also have to listen and relate to the customer. Being a good listener and recalling information is integral to the position and it’s something that can’t really be taught. During the interview stage, test their listening aptitude. Do they answer the question you asked or do they go off in another direction? Do they repeat part of your question back to you while answering?

  1. Assess Their Voice and Speaking Ability

Physical appearance shouldn’t affect the hiring of a new contact center agent. However, their voice should play a role in whether or not they’d be a good fit for your contact center. You don’t need to find someone who has a perfect-for-radio voice, but they should be able to speak clearly. While you can assess their voice by speaking with them, a more effective route is to use hiring technology like Hire IQ. These systems assess the interviewee’s voice and vocal characteristics to make sure their communication skills are up to par.

  1. Conduct Virtual Interviews

Hiring technology can also be used to conduct virtual interviews. After a candidate submits their application, they’ll be prompted to record their responses to questions. If they prefer, they can complete the interview at a later time. The contact center can then review the interview on their own schedule and assess the candidate’s answers in a matter of minutes. Overall, the process of interviewing and selecting agents is accelerated. When you’re able to quickly hire the best candidates, you won’t have to worry that they’ll take another job offer in the interim.

  1. Appeal to Different Learning Styles

Everyone has their own style of learning. Some of your agents may learn best through auditory lessons, while others may need to see something visual or have a first-hand experience to truly understand it. A solid training program appeals to all different learning styles so that each agent can get the best education possible.

Hiring great agents is an important first step, but it’s not the end of the process. In order for agents to stay great, they have to be prepared for their new role. When agents are able to deliver excellent customer service, both the contact center and the customer benefit. High-performing agents are happier, which results in a positive customer experience, which then reinforces an agent’s job satisfaction.

4 Important Categories of Contact Center Analytics


Contact centers collect a lot of data. They can find out what their customers are doing on a daily basis. They can determine what time a customer contacted support and how long their contact lasted. They can listen carefully to conversations and decide if a customer is happy or angry based on certain keywords. All of this data helps the contact center do things like reduce call times and examine agent performance. To be competitive, contact centers have to stay focused on the customer. By keeping track of customer service metrics, contact centers can make decisions based on reliable data.

  1. Speech Analytics

Speech analytics help contact centers improve a customer’s phone call experience. Customer service agents are monitored to ensure they’re adhering to scripts and following regulations. This can also pinpoint the areas in which an agent needs additional training. Speech analytics will also segment hard-to-handle calls so that they can be dealt with by a supervisor or an agent with more experience. Furthermore, speech analytics can determine the reason for the customer’s call, what they hope to get out of the call, and if they are happy, upset, stressed, satisfied, etc.

  1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Analytics

Intuitive IVR systems improve the customer experience. Insights that can be gleaned from IVR analytics include the percentage of callers who want to speak with a live agent and their reason for doing so; the reason for the transfer of calls between departments; the percentage of callers who were not identified accurately; and the number of calls that were handled from start to finish by IVR.

  1. Overall Customer Satisfaction

Gauging overall customer satisfaction will give you an idea of how well you’re delivering the entire customer experience. In order to measure customer satisfaction, the CSAT score is often used. The contact center will ask the customer to rate their satisfaction with a specific experience, like an interaction with the company or a transaction. For example, the customer may be asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of one to ten. Any answer that’s a six or above means the customer is satisfied. To figure out the percentage of satisfied customers, the number of customers who responded with a satisfied rating is divided by the total number of customers who were surveyed.

  1. Predictive Analytics

Tracking analytics isn’t worth much if you’re not going to take the information and figure out how to improve the contact center. Predictive analytics show the changes that will most impact the performance of the contact center. Management can then figure out the best way to communicate with customers, retain happy customers and resolve problems with dissatisfied customers.

One single metric will not give you a useful view of customer service quality. Instead, several metrics that are carefully chosen based on your customer service goals have to be followed. Tracking analytics allows the contact center to improve, update and revamp their programs on a regular basis.

A Vision of Seamless, Fully-Integrated, End-to-End Customer Engagement

V-Person Live Chat

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Today is a truly momentous day, and a very proud one, for all of us at Creative Virtual. Our vision has always been to offer organisations the technology to enable seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement, and to back that technology with the experience of an expert, knowledgeable team. Once we established ourselves as independently recognised leaders in the virtual customer assistant (VCA) space, we underpinned all our channel support with our critically-acclaimed V-Portal™ (knowledge management, workflow management and business intelligence) platform. Today we realised our vision with the official launch of our newest product: V-Person Live Chat™.

Defining industry best practice

V-Person Live Chat completes our customer engagement jigsaw because it successfully blends virtual and real customer support in a way that no other vendor in the marketplace can provide today. Our many years of experience with integrating our V-Person virtual agent technology with other live chat systems made us realise that there was a huge opportunity for organisations to benefit from a deeper blending of the two technologies. This inspired us to develop our own live chat product which is now defining industry best practice through the tight integration of a single knowledgebase for both virtual and real agents, a unique feedback loop and a customisable workflow provided by V-Portal.

At Creative Virtual we closely monitor developing trends and the evolution of engagement touchpoints in order to provide enterprises with cutting-edge Smart Help solutions. It is clear to us that the contact centre in its current form is finished. As there is a transition to more automation, combining virtual and real customer support with a central knowledge management and workflow platform will be key for organisations. We’ve addressed this contact centre shift with the deep integration of virtual agents and live chat, particularly with our unique feedback loop that allows live chat agents to help keep content accurate for both virtual and real agents just by doing their normal jobs.

creative.virtual.self learning lightbulbA complete approach to learning

Our V-Person technology utilises a hybrid approach of human curation of content and self-learning to give organisations a predictable and reliable customer self-service option. We have developed this approach based on our extensive experience and our partnerships with some of the world’s largest organisations. We understand how enterprises want to use virtual agents and chatbots to deliver effective self-service today and how the customer support landscape is evolving for them in the future.

Human curation of content allows organisations to be absolutely sure that their VCA is responding to users in a predictable way. At any point in time, designated content editors have full access to the knowledgebase to make updates that can be deployed instantly to the virtual agent. Organisations never need to wait for the system to ‘re-learn’ the new information. This human element is combined with the virtual agent’s ability to become more intelligent and adapt through self-learning.

V-Person’s statistical algorithm processes user journeys to return a list of related questions that is a true reflection of how users asking for similar information engaged with the virtual agent. Organisations also benefit from our statistical approach to self-learning with tightly integrated business intelligence reporting. V-Portal brings together voice of the customer feedback and user surveys with conversational data in real-time, actionable analytics that are directly linked to the virtual assistant’s knowledgebase.

Now with V-Person Live Chat, we are able to complete our approach to learning with our unique feedback loops. V-Portal enables enterprises to implement feedback loops that allow live agents to provide real-time comments and suggestions on content so that they can improve the virtual agent just by doing their normal job.

This hybrid approach to learning enables V-Person implementations to adapt in a very predictable way. The combination of human and self-learning is important for continually improving the system while also enabling enterprises to maintain control over the reliability of the VCA responses.

Where we go from here

Seeing our vision of seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement come to fruition is an important milestone, but certainly not the end of the roadmap for us. We are looking forward to rolling out our new live chat product to our customer organisations and experiencing with them new levels of customer engagement success. By continuing our collaboration with them, we will look to make new updates to our workflow and do more development around the self-learning aspects of our technology. Our roadmap is all about combining best practices around knowledge curation and self-learning, and integrating V-Person with best-of-breed technologies to provide a world leading enterprise level end-to-end digital customer engagement platform.

Whether you are currently using live chat and/or a virtual agent to support customers or just starting to think about implementing these tools, the best way to see how V-Person Live Chat can benefit your organisation is by requesting a personalised demo.

You can also read more about how we are combining virtual and real support with a live chat solution that is defining industry best practice in our V-Person Live Chat Overview.

Why is First Call Resolution (FCR) Important?

If you’ve ever contacted customer service for a question about your bill, a gadget gone haywire or a missing piece to your shipment, your first thought was probably, “I need this done as quickly as possible.” Nobody wants to call back two or more times, even if it means getting more attention or in-depth service.

First contact resolution (FCR) is integral to the success of a company. It’s one of the main factors in customer loyalty, not to mention contact center efficiency. It affects profitability, too. Plus, FCR matters no matter what channel the customer is on. However the customer decides to contact a company, they expect a near-immediate response on that same channel.

Common Causes of Poor FCR Rates

There are numerous causes of low FCR rates, including:

  • Agent Turnover: If your contact center has a high rate of turnover, you may have a lot of inexperienced reps on at one time. Agents without expertise have a harder time solving customer problems.
  • Confusing Menus: Long and complex IVR menus can confuse customers. Some will give up while others will press any button just to get a live person on the phone. If they’re directed to the wrong department, it’s unlikely that the call will be resolved quickly.
  • Long Hold Time: Whether you play music or let the customer sit in silence, most people have a limit for how long they’ll wait for a customer service rep. Many customers will end up hanging up and calling back at a later date or find a different way to get in touch with customer service.
  • Poor Voice Recognition: While IVR speech recognition can be a great self-service tool, a poorly functioning system may not understand what the caller is saying. Just like with a confusing menu, the customer may simply say “agent” over and over until someone answers the call.

The True Cost of a Low FCR Rate

According to Nuance, every time a contact center has to take a customer call, it can cost an average of $5. Every time somebody can’t solve their problem through self-service or need to call back a second, third or fourth time to get a solution, this costs the contact center. According to Customer Relationship Metrics, this can cost customer service companies millions of dollars per year.

Keeping Up with the Demand for FCR

In order to monitor and improve FCR, contact centers need to have the right system in place to track core metrics. Customer data should be collected from all channels, including call feedback, surveys and social media. Social media is especially important when collecting customer data and rating sentiment because people tend to be their harshest on social media.