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AI in the Contact Center: How Automated Quality Monitoring Drives Success in Good Times and Bad

December 03, 2021 by Morgan Pulitzer

Q&A with CallFinder’s CRO, Laura Noonan

From lockdowns to work-from-home protocols, the last two years have been tumultuous for many businesses. We connected with CallFinder’s Chief Revenue Officer, Laura Noonan, to get her perspective on the pandemic’s impact on our clients operating in contact centers. More specifically, we wanted her thoughts on how our clients have adapted to new business environments, and how their agents and teams have adjusted to changing customer needs.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Laura, and here are some excerpts from our conversation…

You have nearly 30 years of experience working with and helping businesses grow by improving agent performance and the customer experience. Things have changed drastically in the last two years for our CallFinder clients with traditional contact center environments. How have our clients fared through this, and what did they need to adjust to come out stronger?

Noonan: It’s been a chaotic few years for businesses in all sectors, to say the least. Speaking with our clients, I find that most made it through the pandemic successfully and remain profitable, despite the current supply chain challenges. In fact, some have grown and come out even stronger, evidenced by increased revenues and the need to hire more agents to handle their customers’ needs.

Consumer habits have shown us the impact of the world slowing down in the last few years. With lockdowns and less travel, consumers spent more time researching their purchases, and they needed more support. This meant customers were calling the businesses we work with more than ever. It also meant more work for contact center agents.

As customer needs grew, our clients had to rise to the challenge. Naturally, improving the customer experience and agent call handling skills were the top priority for contact centers. And for Quality Review and Assurance teams, their focus turned to monitoring agent performance and contact center KPIs. We also heard from clients whose CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) scores remain as important as ever, and we know that first impressions and continued customer relationships have a significant role in customer satisfaction.

Based on the results you have seen, what would you say are the top benefits for a businesses employing Automated Quality Monitoring solutions?

Noonan: According to what our clients tell us, I’d say the biggest benefit is how much more efficient and effective a speech analytics solution makes the quality monitoring process. Manual call monitoring is inherently time consuming and provides a limited review process with random results.

We speak with companies interested in our solution every day. The reality is that most companies tend to listen to a very small sample of calls, which is about 1-3% of all of their customer interactions. This means that they’re not able to truly analyze and aggregate insights from the voice interactions with their customers.

AI-fueled speech analytics technology augments this random review approach, and turns it into an intelligent and directed quality monitoring process. When businesses supplement their existing QA reviews with an intelligent quality monitoring solution like CallFinder, they gain agent and customer insights into 100% of their interactions. This data, based on customer feedback, is necessary for making informed business decisions.

Businesses also get unbiased and unlimited insights to use for agent coaching efforts. For example, one of our clients uses sentiment analysis and silence and overtalk rates to easily identify high-performing agents who can act as training examples. In turn, they can also identify underperforming agents to quickly address knowledge gaps, re-coach those agents, and ensure that they’re providing a consistent message and experience across all agent-customer interactions. This is a critical point of differentiation for businesses today.

What do you see as the future of the contact center, and what do companies need to do to continue adjusting to a modified working environment that’s here to stay?

Noonan: The pandemic has redefined the contact center in a few important ways. It is no longer a single-location operation with rows of agents in open office environments. Now the contact center is any place where agents interact with customers. So some businesses may continue to operate within a traditional contact center environment, and some may continue with the work-from-home model.

Either way, people who oversee contact center operations need to keep a pulse on agent performance and customer interactions. This means they need easy access to data and tools like agent performance metrics, compliance metrics, and call and agent scoring tools. No matter where they’re located, contact center agents should always have the tools and training they need to consistently provide an exceptional customer experience.

4. What are some of the current technological challenges for both traditional and non-traditional call centers, and how can CallFinder help?

Noonan: After so many discovery conversations with our clients, we know that manually monitoring recorded calls is a time-consuming, subjective, and painstaking process. But there’s understandable hesitancy about relying on technology, even if it’s a SaaS solution.

However, an MSaaS solution like CallFinder alleviates the hurdle of taking on a new tool because our solution is easy to use for businesses and QA teams. Another major benefit of working with us is that there’s no impact or draw on IT resources. CallFinder requires no change to a business’s phone system, recording provider, or telephony stack, and there’s no additional hardware or capital expense.

Fortunately, we structured CallFinder’s solution and our business model in a way allows us to provide unparalleled client support with our team of dedicated Speech Analysts. Every business working with CallFinder gets their own dedicated CallFinder Analyst. Our hands-on, managed approach assists clients through each step of the onboarding process, and our Analysts are always available to help with whatever questions or concerns our clients have.

Can you provide an example of how a client might utilize CallFinder’s Managed Client Support?

Noonan: One of the best examples is a financial company we’ve been working with for the past two years. Prior to working with us, they were manually reviewing just 5 to 10% of their recorded calls. That’s simply not enough to make data-based business decisions. CallFinder’s Analyst Team helped them identify specific challenges they could overcome with our technology.

We worked with them to set up scorecards and create customer reports to measure their KPIs more efficiently. Now they’re reviewing and scoring 100% of their recorded customer interactions – that’s a 95% increase. Plus, they’ve gained a far better understanding of both their agents’ performance, and the experience they provide to their customers.

This particular style of a fully managed speech analytics solution is unique to CallFinder. In fact, we have conversations regularly with businesses looking for a new provider because they cannot internally manage the technology with their existing resources, unless they hire a full time equivalent. With our methodology – assigning experienced CallFinder Analysts to each client we work with – they don’t have the burden of hiring a Speech Analyst to use the technology. We do it for them!

Improving agent performance and boosting efficiency have long been the main goals of call center managers. Can you expand on how leveraging solutions with built-in customer interaction metrics is essential to meeting those goals?

Noonan: To really understand your customers, you need to go beyond what they’re saying. You need context. CallFinder’s Insights transcribes all phone conversations and analyzes them not just for key words and phrases, but also for customer sentiment. Sentiment and emotion metrics reveal the full-picture experience a customer has with your business.

When used with other features, such as silence and overtalk detection, managers can easily identify agent strengths and weaknesses, where they may need extra training, and the root cause analysis of customer pain points. It all works together to create a full understanding of both customers and agents.

Our clients can also accomplish this with agent scorecards. One of our clients recently wanted to know the areas in which their agents were performing consistently well, and which agents were giving them trouble, particularly with script compliance. Our individual agent scorecards provided unbiased and accurate scores on each agent’s performance for every call. This is far more efficient than listening to every recorded call in its entirety. Plus, our scorecard data helped expedite new agent training, improved productivity and compliance, and helped maintain a consistent pattern of excellence in the call center.

One barrier to creating better customer experiences is a lack of commitment throughout the organization to make this a company-wide endeavor. How do solutions like CallFinder help facilitate this type of initiative?

Noonan: Our clients quickly discover that when they utilize CallFinder, it doesn’t just benefit the contact center; it benefits the entire business. The ability to quickly scan phone conversations and identify trends that reveal customer needs and pain points goes way beyond the contact center. CallFinder’s solution helps improve sales and marketing efforts, new product development, operations strategies, and other factors that make up the overall customer experience.

The best part is that our clients can easily share these findings with stakeholders throughout the company. When businesses break down department silos, they can start working together as a truly collective entity to ensure that each step of the customer journey is successful. This leads to a better customer experience and strengthens customer loyalty.

What do you predict as the next evolution in the field of speech analytics and customer experience monitoring? And how will AI continue to influence solutions on the market today?

Noonan: As AI-influenced analytics continues to evolve and adapt to changing business needs, automated analytics will remain at the forefront of improving the customer experience. Features like emotion detection will help contact centers gain a better understanding of how every interaction makes their customers genuinely feel. Phrase clouds and keyword spotting will provide even more comprehensive intel for establishing enhanced processes in the call center.

I also foresee that AI will pre-determine the direction of individual interactions – positive or negative – and prompt agents with the information they need to have a positive interaction. Using aggregated data like this will advance agent-customer conversations down a positive path.

The reality is that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what AI-fueled speech analytics solutions are truly capable of. And the future looks incredibly promising for businesses in all industries.

Ready to Learn More?

We’d like to thank Laura for taking some time to speak with us and offer her insights and expertise. To learn more about CallFinder and how an Automated Quality Monitoring solution can work for your business, call 1-800-639-1700 to speak with a CallFinder expert. Or book a 15-minute demo to see CallFinder in action.

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