RealTime IT News

Big Brother Comes to the Call Center, But It's Good

Autonomy today unveiled the latest version of its etalk Intelligent Contact Center software, incorporating speech analysis and trend-identification features to its core call-recording and storage functionality.

As companies continue to mine unstructured data from blogs, customer e-mails, chat rooms and garden-variety calls to their customer service lines for feedback, they face the daunting challenge of analyzing and organizing all this noise in a way that allows them to address customer needs and react to them in a timely fashion.

By combining speech analytics software with trend-identification and clustering components, Autonomy said its latest offering will help companies separate the wheat from the chaff in real-time to drive sales, improve customer service and understand, rather than simply document, each customer interaction.

Nicole Eagan, Autonomy's chief marketing officer, said the etalk Intelligent Contact Center software gives marketing managers and sales associates a holistic view of all customer interactions in real-time. She said the speech analytics component is sophisticated enough to not only evaluate and tag words such as "ridiculous" or "expensive" but also the tone and emotional state of the person talking.

"The software helps find and understand patterns in conversations," Eagan said. "It goes beyond keyword search to discover the nuances of the conversation."

For years, companies desperate for customer feedback got data in dribs and drabs from vague reports created at their call centers with nebulous definitions such as "pricing issue" or "complaint." The etalk software now allows users to drill down into the specifics of all calls. One example, you could pull up all calls made between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday during which the caller mentioned a competitor's product or service.

The software's clustering and trend-identification features provides a graphical interpretation of the context and issues culled from customer calls and e-mails, telling them what's hot—a consistent stream of customer requests for blue chairs for weeks—or what's new—250 calls in the last half hour responding to a TV ad—so customer service and sales reps can respond appropriately.

Autonomy's software also sorts through e-mail, chat and other online customer interactions, runs its analysis and then incorporates that data into the trend and clustering charts.

Donna Fluss, president of West Orange, N.J.-based DMG Consulting, said Autonomy's speech analytics software is derived from technology used by government and military agencies for years. DMG estimates companies will spend almost $100 million on speech-analytics software in 2007 and just under $200 million in 2008.

"Speech analytics allows companies to listen to customers on an institutional basis," she said in an interview with internetnews.com. "This is very sophisticated technology that finds trends and patterns and makes the information very useful and usable to the end user."

DMG Consulting estimates only 25 companies implemented enterprise-class speech analytics software in 2004 when the technology made its commercial debut. By 2006, that figure rose to 603 implementations and is expected to almost double again this year.

Autonomy's customers include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Coca-Cola, Dell, IBM and GlaxoSmithKline.