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vr_Customer_Analytics_09_technology_used_for_customer_analyticsLast year I assessed how Nexidia had advanced its products to support customer interaction analytics. Since then the market has changed, and Nexidia continues to expand its products to meet a broader set of needs for analyzing and optimizing customer interactions. Companies are recognizing that they need complete information about their customers, including interactions, and need to change the metrics they use to monitor and assess customer-related activities. My research into next-generation customer analytics shows that the most common tools used to produce customer analytics is spreadsheets (52%) and only 26 percent of companies have implemented a dedicated standalone customer analytics tool to help them respond to these requirements; however, the results also show that more companies plan to adopt dedicated customer analytics products in the next 12 to 24 months. For good reason as spreadsheets are known for errors that impact business and use of general BI tools can lengthen the time to value and not support the specific data and analytic needs like that needed in customer interaction analytics.

Companies face challenges in keeping up with customers’ use of more channels of communication, their increasing expectations for service, and the huge volumes and many types of customer data they are now generating. They also need to understand the behavior and sentiments of customers and of their own agents. The latest version of the Nexidia product, Interaction Analytics 11, that was announced has been designed to meet these challenges. At the heart of the product is the ability to extract information and insights through speech analytics, which Nexidia has focused on since its inception.

In general speech analytics comes in two basic forms: automatic speech recognition (ASR) and phonetic speech analysis. There are some differences in the two. ASR essentially searches through audio recordings to spot words previously specified by users. To prepare to use it, a company must create a dictionary of words its users want to find; then they run the software against the audio source (typically call recordings), and it produces an analysis showing where and how often it found the words, the contexts in which it found them and trends such as a word appearing more often than in previous analyses. To change the words being looked for, users have to change the dictionary and repeat the process. The same applies to working in another language: Users create another dictionary and run the process. In the fast-changing world of customer engagement, such a process can be too slow and cumbersome to keep up with business demands.

In contrast, phonetic analysis, which Nexidia uses, doesn’t require a dictionary. The software runs against any audio source and creates a phonetic index that is time-stamped. Users create structured queries that the software uses to find and analyze a raw audio source, and produce the required reports and analysis in much the same way as ASR does. In this case users can concentrate on building queries, and new ones can be run against the same audio source; it requires no new dictionary and works in any language by changing the language pack included with the product.

Interaction Analytics 11 takes this process further, into what Nexidia calls neural phonetic speech analysis. In addition to audio, the software can process text data from sources such as email, surveys, chat scripts and text messages. The system uncovers information from these combined sources and applies the analysis, thus giving users a fuller picture of customer interactions. The system can also use predefined rules to uncover agent and customer sentiment, adding another dimension to the analysis. The outputs from the initial discovery phase and sentiment analysis can be run against prebuilt models concerning business issues such as customer churn and retention or sales effectiveness. All of these outputs can be included in enhanced reports and analysis, which can be extended to include key metrics.

As well as adding these functional capabilities, Nexidia has rearchitected the product to be more scalable and able to process data vr_Customer_Analytics_06_most_important_customer_analyticsin parallel, which enhances performance and delivers results faster. Version 11 has a new user interface and enhanced analytic visualization capabilities, which make it easier for users to interpret the outputs, take appropriate actions and share the information with others. The new architecture also can run analysis in real time, which my research into next-generation customer analytics shows is the number-one capability companies are looking for and first ranked in a fifth (21%) of organizations; doing so can, for example, advise supervisors if agents are saying something wrong or are about to close a call without giving required disclaimers.

Ventana Research believes that to derive full benefit from any application, especially analytics, it should be used within an overall performance management framework. This should include three steps: Understand, Optimize and Align. In this context, Understand uses batch and real-time analytics to show what has happened and what is happening; Optimize uses these outputs to decide which changes are required; Align creates an action plan to ensure the changes are brought to bear. The analytic process uses metrics and is cyclic so that repeating the cycle shows the impacts of changes and other changes needed going forward. Nexidia supports a similar approach, which uses its discovery tools to reveal what has happened and what is happening, root-cause analysis to understand why it happened and a metrics-driven approach to improvement. For example, companies can enhance quality management by analyzing more sources of data (such as surveys, customer feedback and call recordings), understanding drivers of agent and customer satisfaction, and fine-tuning coaching and training to improve the customer experience. My research into the agent desktop and customer service shows that very satisfied agents twice as often as those less satisfied deliver on key customer-related metrics such as customer satisfaction, net promoter scores and first-time interaction resolution.

Nexidia’s products give users insights into the processes connected with improving the customer experience. I recommend that organizations examine how Nexidia can help improve the outcomes of customer interactions using its next generation customer analytics called Interaction Analytics.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

I have spent the last two days at the U.K.’s largest contact center trade show, which this year moved to London Olympia from the NEC in Birmingham. While the overall number of visitors seemed to be down, some exhibitors told me there were more high-level attendees with serious intent to purchase.

At the show I detected three major themes: support for managing multichannel (including social media) customer interactions, “the contact center in the cloud” and analytics. Regarding the first, Ventana Research’s benchmark research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that companies must support multiple channels through which customers can interact with them or risk that certain segments of customers won’t do business with them. A colleague recently summed it up nicely: A multichannel customer service strategy is not an “or” strategy but an “and” strategy; that is, no one channel, even social media, will replace any other channel, and therefore you need them all. Supporting this viewpoint were a number of vendors whose integrated products support multiple channels; these includeAltitude SoftwarecTalk LtdEnghouse interactiveGenesysmplsystems,NobleSystems and ShoreTel

One of the challenges in handling multiple forms of customer interactions is that it adds to the complexity of the desktop agents use. This is already complex because of the number and variety of applications agents need to access to resolve interactions. The combination of multiple interaction types and multiple applications is increasing the need for a “smart” agent desktop. Altitude and mplsystems include that as a component of their products, while others have specialist products, such as sword-ciboodle and (although the company won’t thank me for describing it this way)

As for the contact center in the cloud, Salesforce would claim it provides this, and as I noted it does provide a key part in the smart desktop that brings together all customer information so agents can handle customer interactions more efficiently. But Salesforce doesn’t provide a technology platform to manage inbound interactions and route them to the most appropriate person to handle them. This capability is provided in the cloud by some of the multichannel management vendors whose systems can be based on-premises or on a hosted (in the cloud) basis. Three vendors at the show that specialize in this are Interactive Intelligence, NewVoiceMedia and SAP – the last might surprise people as it is better known as an ERP and CRM provider.

Interactive Intelligence’s CIC provides a technology platform and interaction management, plus other applications to support multichannel customer interaction management in the cloud. NewVoiceMedia’s main product,ContactWorld, also provides interaction management in the cloud and can route interactions to the most qualified person regardless of location. It also launched its Trust site which takes performance monitoring to a new level. Whereas most cloud vendors provide availability and reliability statistics, NewVoiceMedia automates tasks agents carry out, runs these tasks every five minutes, measures the results and publishes the outcomes, thereby allowing managers to see the level of performance their agents receive from the product. This monitoring also allows NewVoiceMedia to spot issues before users see any impact and take corrective action. Possibly the most surprising vendor in this space is SAP, with its BCM products, which include a cloud-based service that supports management of multiple communication channels. All three of these vendors support the growing trend to distribute interaction-handling to dispersed “agents” who can be in different physical centers, home-based, mobile, working in other business units or even working for a third-party outsourcing company.

The other major theme running through the show and in presentations was analytics. Ventana Research advocates wider adoption of analytics in the contact center and elsewhere, so it was interesting to see a variety of analytic products. Most of the vendors have some form of analytics built in to their systems, but a number of specialist vendors offer particular types of analytics: Attensity was featuring its customer-focused analytics; Aurix was featuring its speech analytics; CallCopy was featuring its process and speech analytics products which work with its other products to support improved agent performance; Enkata was featuring a range of products that support operational and agent-focused performance analysis; and Nexidia was featuring its customer-focused analytics that can analyze interactions from multiple channels. I didn’t hear as much as I expected about social media analytics, so it may be that vendors are still evaluating how social media is impacting business.

I describe the adoption of analytics as moving beyond the early-adopter stage and approaching the mainstream. I believe the main issue holding back adoption, which was highlighted in our benchmark research into the use of analytics, is that companies have difficulty interpreting the outputs from analytics and thus getting real business benefits. Our research shows that business units such as Finance are supported by business analysts who essentially interpret the results and show management the impact of different decisions and activities. In the contact center, such responsibility sits with the operational team so they need more support before they can realize the full benefits of speech, text and social media analytics.

Overall the show confirmed that there is an impressive variety of technology available to support companies in their efforts to improve the way they interact with customers. Two absences I noted this year were Cisco andVerint. More technology, applications and analytics are becoming available in the cloud, making it easier and more affordable to try. I have only been able to touch on a few vendors in this piece, so I urge you to take more time to find out what is available and let us know what issues you come across by collaborating with me.


Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

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