In one of his last interviews, Steve Jobs spoke fondly about how he came up with the idea of iPad. Now, a voice analysis has identified Jobs’s innermost emotions at the time of the interview — loneliness, fatigue, emotional frustration, sadness mixed with happiness and possibly nostalgia. This in a nutshell is speech analytics — an audio mining technology that dissects the voice and detects the underlying emotion behind it. For the airline industry, struggling to handle huge volumes of calls in a competitive environment, this is a technology that is godsend.

Airline contact centers can sometimes be a source of frustration to an irate customer – managing the Interactive Voice Response (IVR), juggling multiple number-driven menus and the endless wait time – are major irritants. Speech analytics tools, backed by sophisticated algorithms and sentiment detection capabilities, can help call center agents detect a customer’s mood and accordingly offer the right solution. It’s no wonder that Southwest Airlines has already invested in a speech analytics tool that will allow its contact center agents to understand the nuances of a customer’s voice.

Speech analytics is not new. It has been around for more than a decade. But its adoption is still at a nascent stage. With the market for speech analytics pegged at USD 1.60 Billion by 2020, airlines can hardly afford to ignore the potential of this technology.

Compared to other analytical streams such as social media analytics which provides a view of the customer, speech analytics offers a dual view — that of the customer and the agent. This helps in:

  • Evaluating agent performance

  • Increasing first time resolution rates

  • Decreasing repeat/escalation call volumes and Average Handling Time (AHT)

The reduced AHT can help agents upsell/cross-sell targeted offerings and boost ancillary revenues.

Among many other things, speech analytics can be leveraged to identify key phrases that contribute to a deeper understanding of customer meanings, intentions and behaviors. By capturing the phonetic patterns, speech analytics provides companies with potential visibility into a wider range of performance dimensions.

Most speech analytics solutions come embedded with the following features:

  • Speech engine that converts speech to data

  • Indexing layer that makes it searchable

  • Web user interface that allows users to define requirements and carry out searches

  • Reporting applications that present the analysis in a graphical form

There is no disputing the strategic benefits that speech analytics can offer airline contact centers. Its importance is amplified when seen in the context of markets that are increasingly driven by customer experiences.

However, speech analytics, on its own, cannot deliver the desired outcome. For this technology to yield the expected return on investments, effective implementation is an absolute imperative. In such a context, partnering with an experienced third-party vendor is a viable option.

More on the implementation in our next blog.


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