What is speech analytics? Everything a contact center leader needs to know

Victoria Beverly

April 3, 2024

Understanding the voice of the customer is a requirement in the contact center (at least we hope it is). The conversations between your agents and customers are more than just transactional calls or other interactions—they are full of untapped quality insights and business opportunities. So what can create the bridge between these conversations with customers and real business change? 

The answer is speech analytics—a technology that analyzes call recordings or live customer calls with speech recognition software to find useful information and help provide an additional layer of quality assurance. By applying speech analytics technology to both customer and agent dialogue, customer experience and operations leaders can address gaps within contact center quality, agent performance, and customer satisfaction. 

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Understanding speech analytics

At its core, speech analytics converts unstructured conversation data into structured and digestible insights that can be searched, indexed, and analyzed. Speech analytics helps contact center leaders and business stakeholders learn from what agents and customers are saying. Why is this so crucial? Because it can lead to significant improvements in operational efficiencies, substantial cost savings, and revenue growth—all from data you're already accumulating every day in your customer conversations.

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Unlocking the benefits of speech analytics

Increased operational efficiency and cost savings

By analyzing call content, speech analytics can uncover a lot of different cost-saving opportunities. For example, a company might uncover topics that frequently cause agent confusion and lead to longer handle times, indicating agents might need additional training (or the company might need to update its knowledge base). Or a company may discover a spike in calls on a particular topic (e.g., website login page issue)—and by using speech analytics to catch this issue, they can reduce the number of calls they get on the topic. 

Because speech analytics helps contact center leaders identify factors driving up contact center costs, they can use the information to improve agent efficiency, identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and address issues that are driving up call volumes (just to name a few examples).

Speech analytics also helps contact center leaders and business stakeholders identify factors that impact customer satisfaction, points of customer friction, and process and product improvement opportunities. This not only streamlines contact center operational efficiency but also reduces the volume of repeat calls, reduces customer journey friction, and has the potential to improve product offerings and customer satisfaction.

Compliance risk reduction

For companies that must meet regulatory requirements, speech analytics can trigger alerts when non-compliant phrases or conversations occur, significantly reducing the risk of legal and regulatory penalties. This not only protects the company from potential financial and reputational damage but also ensures that customers are being protected and treated fairly.

Agent performance and customer experience improvement

Speech analytics can also improve agent training by offering both a big picture and a granular view of agent performance, highlighting areas for praise or further development. It improves contact center coaching programs by allowing you to track agent behaviors proven to positively impact the customer experience, such as advocacy and acknowledgment statements. 

Agents can also positively influence customer satisfaction by interacting with empathy, precision, and efficiency—a trifecta that data-driven coaching helps contact center teams achieve. According to IDC, 62% of surveyed business leaders say there is a defined causal relationship between EX and CX and that the impact is“large” or “significant” and measurable.  Over half (58%) of respondents indicated that customer satisfaction is a key metric in evaluating employee productivity. By analyzing customer interactions for positive agent behaviors, speech analytics can help improve call center agent performance and engagement, contributing to overall customer satisfaction.

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How speech analytics works

Here’s a quick overview of how speech analytics works (without sinking into the technical terminology abyss). Speech analytics uses machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence) to analyze recorded calls. Machine learning models are trained on massive amounts of data to recognize patterns and make predictions. In speech analytics software, these models can identify things like call reasons, customer and agent behaviors, and churn risk indicators–all based on the language customers and agents use in their conversations. 

The insights from these conversations can be as complex as thorough sentiment analysis or as straightforward as keyword spotting. As it's constantly evolving, the technology behind speech analytics is constantly being innovated with natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to deepen its ability to understand conversations and uncover insights.

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Impactful use cases for speech analytics

Speech analytics is impactful both inside and outside the contact center. Some examples include:

  • Agent coaching and QA automation: Contact center and operations leaders can go beyond random call sampling by using speech analytics to automate repetitive parts of the QA process and uncover data-driven insights to inform agent training.
  • Compliance monitoring: Analyzing interactions helps companies adhere to necessary legal and procedural standards and flags compliance breaches quickly so the right team can address them.
  • Root cause analysis: Speech analytics helps the contact center and other senior leaders understand the 'whys' behind customer calls and strategize to reduce repeat issues and increase first call resolution.
  • Sales and save offers: Refine selling strategies or language to close more sales and retain more customers.
  • Product and service evolution: Insights from customer feedback can drive smarter business decisions and foster innovation.

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Real results from speech analytics

Here are three real-world stories from Tethr customers showing the benefits of speech analytics:

  • Spark Energy needs to deliver an excellent customer experience and ensure sales agents meet compliance standards. They now use speech analytics and conversation intelligence in Tethr to mitigate compliance risks on all calls. By analyzing sales-related calls, Spark Energy catches compliance issues as they occur, helping them prevent costly outcomes. 
  • BCU needed to understand more about their member experience and track agent performance. Within months, Tethr’s conversation intelligence helped BCU develop a new lens into member service. The credit union has since built the insights around agent performance into its employee recognition program.
  • Despite capturing and gathering massive amounts of raw data about its customers from their interactions, BCLC was struggling to distill the data into information they could act on. BCLC is now using speech analytics and conversation intelligence to analyze customer feedback to improve processes and products, cutting costs in the process.

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Best of both worlds: Speech analytics and conversation intelligence

If you've done some research on speech analytics software, you may have come across the term "conversation intelligence" and wondered, what’s the difference between conversation intelligence and speech analytics?

While speech analytics is a necessary component of conversation intelligence, conversation intelligence platforms like Tethr go beyond just analyzing calls for keywords. By examining customer interactions across multiple channels including voice, chat, case submissions, and emails, Tethr's platform surfaces a comprehensive omnichannel CX perspective to contact center and customer experience leaders. 

Because certain nuances of customer sentiment and customer effort may slip under the radar while deploying traditional speech analytics platforms, Tethr aims to provide a full picture of the customer journey and contact center operations by using over ten years of customer experience research in combination with speech analytics to power its insights and dashboards. This helps customer experience, contact center, and operations leaders identify key areas of opportunity and improvement for their business.

Comparison of speech analytics and conversation intelligence


We hope this exploration into the world of speech analytics has highlighted its critical role in modern contact centers and customer experience programs. With these insights, you should now understand how using conversation intelligence and speech analytics platforms can not only enhance operational efficiency but also significantly improve customer satisfaction. 

Your contact center has the potential to uncover big opportunities for improvement. Embrace the future of customer service, and let conversation intelligence (with the help of speech analytics) guide you toward strategies to reduce operational costs, keep customers coming back to your business, and grow your company’s revenue.

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