Skip navigation
All Places > Industry News and Best Practices > Blog > Authors scottbakken

“I don’t understand how my organization can use speech analytics.”


This is a statement I hear often from those who don't have speech analytics, as well as those who do. Speech analytics has the potential to transform an organization and its relationships with customers, but organizations seldom harness its power to make that happen. The reason is the journey to speech begins without adequate planning, preparation and understanding of how to use the technology.


Typically, speech neophytes start off by using it to grab low-hanging-fruit issues in an attempt to show ROI. After this fruit is picked, they run out of quick-hit ideas and get bogged down in what to tackle next.


Here's what I hear:

  • “My boss told me to start using speech analytics and make it work, but I have no idea where to begin, even after reading the user guide.”
  • “We built out our first project and not really sure where to go next”
  • “We’re struggling to have meaningful impact on the organization”
  • “The executive sponsor who implemented speech didn’t share the vision with anyone and has since left, so nobody knows what to do with it.”


Speech analytics isn’t "just" software. Rather, think about it as an innovative methodology that can alter the way we think about solving problems. At least, it has that potential, but newbies get caught up in their limited definition of what constitutes a "problem." Invariably, when I've asked organizations, “What’s your definition of a problem?” the answer I receive is, “A problem with agents.”


While speech analytics can solve some agent problems, restricting ourselves only to agent problems devalues its potential. Until we see "problems" as more than just agent issues, we won't leverage the power of speech analytics to solve many other types of enterprise problems. Once this concept sinks in, it will open up a whole new world to you, and speech analytics will become the first tool to reach for – whether it’s a large scale project or quality monitoring.

If you’re new to speech analytics and are beginning to assemble a vision but aren’t sure how speech analytics will fit into your organization, it’s paramount that you craft a blueprint for its use. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling in only a few months and speech analytics could end up being a piece of shelf ware and that’s a surprise no one wants to see.


About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services to organizations that use speech software to improve business results. Visit our website here.




MainTrax is excited to join Lawson Concepts to announce a NEW one-of-a-kind speech analytics “blueprint that works” workshop that will help take your organization to the next level.




Join us in Chicago June 26-27



Visit Our Website



Download Chicago Workshop information (pdf)


Skinny Dipping

Posted by scottbakken Apr 27, 2016

pDSP1-20329173v750.pngDiving Into Analytics with Only the Bare Necessities


While placing my order for a $2,000 fish-finding tool, I envisioned walleyes jumping into my boat faster than I could toss them in my cooler. After a few frustrating afternoons on the water, I realized I would have been just as well off with a simple $149 model. Shelling out two grand for a tool loaded with bells and whistles would make sense if I were deep-sea fishing for tarpon. But deploying it for walleye was like using a bazooka to kill a mosquito.


Depending on what information they’re looking to reel in, contact centers investing in “big data” may also experience buyer’s remorse. Big data is all the rage these days but for many organizations, big data is overkill. What it often produces is big expenses and big headaches.


Indeed, big data, which is engineered to optimize predictive analytics and other sophisticated methods for extracting value from unstructured information, requires a big, big effort. Collecting a critical mass of data and gaining clarity about how to massage it to achieve predetermined objectives is a big job in itself. The processing piece that comes next demands highly skilled analysts who know how to discern operational subtleties and find the proverbial needles in an endless supply of data-stuffed haystacks. That’s a tall order for organizations of any size, much less contact centers whose size and budget don’t allow them to even consider jumping on the big data bandwagon.


Go Lean

A better option? Skinny data. More specifically, skinny speech data. Unlike big data, which is essentially a collection of data sets so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using traditional database management tools, we can define skinny data as solving specific problems around targeted business issues with minimal supporting data.


A data source that’s particularly well suited for skinny data applications is speech analytics, which enables you to move from data creation to easy-to-interpret results to business decision faster than you can say, “I can’t believe how inexpensive this is.” In fact, valuable “skinny” bits of information are probably in the speech tool you’re already using.


Leveraging skinny speech data can help contact centers improve agent effectiveness, minimize compliance risk, capitalize on selling opportunities, identify complaint trends, reduce customer churn, decrease operational costs and mine rich new veins of business intelligence.


Conversations I had with data science executives from two large insurance companies demonstrate the folly of pursuing big data when skinny data can get the job done quickly and efficiently. The first executive told me he wanted to process large customer data sets to predict churn using voice, text, e-mail, demographics, tenure, surveys and other forms of data.


The second executive was confident he could leverage speech analytics to generate valuable insights about churn and other business issues. He told me, “We already have so much big data that we don’t know what levers to pull right now. I just need some basic information that’s aligned with our KPIs (key performance indicators).”



Bingo.  Skinny data can help you cross the finish line while big data is still generating a multitude of reports that are just as likely to confuse as impress. The contrast is stark: why sink $1 million or more into an enterprise CRM when actionable targeted analytics can be achieved by simply combining customer interactions and sales data?


Granted, if you want your analysis to uncover issues that are currently unknown and unanticipated, that’s a job for big data. But skinny speech data is ideally suited to boost contact center profitability by applying basic but effective methodologies to issues like First Call Resolution (FCR), root cause of calls, uninformed or unprofessional agents and customer frustration.


Skinny Speech Studies

A speech analytics pilot study built around an important business issue can help you discern the why behind the what and serve as a catalyst for change. For instance, if your rate of repeat calls is trending upward, an exploratory study can help identify the root cause of the higher rate and provide the necessary insights to take corrective measures.


Start your study by identifying an issue that relates directly to your KPIs, then spend two or three weeks searching through agent-customer conversations to find calls that support the study’s objectives.


Next, fill a bucket with 75 to 100 relevant recordings to share with your company’s decision makers. Invite them to sit around a table and listen to selected calls. Actually hearing the voice of the customer is far more impactful than reading reports or interpreting a set of dashboards.


Presenting the study with a compelling narrative interspersed with skinny pieces of data—snippets of audio and nuggets of analysis—can build awareness, initiate discussion and move your team to action.


Skinny Successes

While many organizations apply speech analytics to ongoing, long-term initiatives, many quick wins have been gained along the way, many of which have made an immediate impact on the bottom line.


Here are seven industry examples that may spark ideas about how you can use skinny speech data in your own organization to solve key business issues.


Higher Education

Business analysts exposed agents who were making potentially litigious “guarantee” statements. Those agents were taken off the floor the next day.


• National Retailer (consumables)

Analysts quickly uncovered a recurring issue related to packaging/shipping failure.


• National Retailer (apparel)

Analysts discovered an opportunity to reduce callbacks with a simple change: the retailer’s website offered a next-day shipping option when no such option existed.


• National Retailer (home improvement)

Analysts recognized an opportunity to identify customers who were threatening lawsuits. After shifting focus of the initiative to “small claims court” phrases, the client was able to rectify the marketing issue that was causing the problem.


• National Retailer (wellness)

Analysts saw an opportunity to curtail the ongoing problem of agents making medical misstatements that left the client vulnerable to significant legal consequences.


• Collections

A chief compliance and privacy officer was aghast when told by his analysts that a number of his collections associates were routinely using phrases that could be considered false threats, such as “Take back your car.” According to this executive, the dollar cost of an enforcement action could run as much as $10 million.


• Telecommunications

During the detection auditing process an analyst discovered agents who were using unprofessional language and inappropriately commenting on customers’ bad credit ratings.



Unlike long, complex initiatives that take nine to twelve months and produce results that don’t always justify the expense of producing them, skinny speech projects can generate fast, low-cost wins in four weeks or less and demonstrate to key stakeholders that your speech software is generating a healthy ROI.


About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken


The value of retaining customers cannot be overstated, and reducing customer churn is an area where analytics shines. Indeed, if necessity is the mother of invention, then analytics is the mother of retention.



Dave Patchen, my partner at MainTrax, has worked with dozens of clients on closing sales, capitalizing on up-selling opportunities, and analyzing marketing effectiveness, but he says that for many organizations, retention is the holy grail of speech analytics. “It’s rather tedious to reverse-engineer calls to discover predictable indicators of customer frustration and language patterns that identify silent switchers,” he says. “But if you devote the time to review calls that took place upstream, you’ll find that the customer provided clear churn signals early on.”


Patchen’s advice for anyone who wants to reduce churn? Take the time to connect the dots, then reach out immediately to callers whom your speech tool identifies as customers at risk before they call you again to say they have already committed themselves to another provider. Every customer you retain may be worth thousands of dollars in future revenue and replacement cost savings.


Despite clear evidence that speech analytics can deliver enormous value to marketing, I continue to be surprised at how few contact centers pay attention to “the people across the hall.” Part of the problem lies with speech analytics vendors who focus their demos primarily on improving customer experience and agent performance.  I understand as churn applications can be complex and time consuming. Another factor is simply human nature; operations people tend to be laser-focused on operations and only operations.


Foresight, big-picture thinking, and consensus building is required to peel back the layers of potential churn applications to ensure that retention departments—and consequently the entire organization—can benefit from the actionable business intelligence produced by speech analytics.




About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken


When a credit union’s marketing department asked operations whether callers were mentioning their recently-launched loyalty program, they were disappointed to learn that, according to the contact center’s speech tool, very few callers referred to the Gold, Silver, and Bronze packages. However, after conducting a content audit—a manual review of a select number of random recordings from the appropriate business queue—operations learned that callers were referencing the program. It’s just that customers were largely ignoring the official package names and instead were asking about “perk points.” It’s a good example of the gap that can exist between expected and actual customer language, which can only be revealed when operations and marketing departments cooperate.



Discovery and Rediscovery

At MainTrax, the first thing we do with a new client is schedule a discovery session—ideally with a variety of key stakeholders from multiple departments—to clearly define intentions, expectations, and business goals. But we also recommend that clients conduct occasional rediscovery sessions to ensure that current processes are aligned with initial goals and to identify additional ways to leverage the power of their speech tool.


Here are some of the questions we ask in initial discovery sessions that can be just as helpful when revisited after implementation of a speech initiative:


• What specifically do you want to learn by using speech analytics?

• How are you currently gathering this intelligence?

• Are you interested in monitoring what the agent says, what the customer says, or both of these channels?

• Why is understanding this information important to you?

• How do you plan to use this information?

• Who else is this information important to, and why?

• Which departments are likely to be involved?


For initial discovery sessions, we supplement these questions by sharing quick wins, case studies, and “Aha!” moments from other clients that illustrate the numerous ways that analytics can positively impact marketing campaigns and strategies.


Ultimately, the extent of marketing’s involvement might come down to who’s writing the check. One client suggested that the higher the decision maker is on the organizational ladder, the more likely it is that marketing will get some attention. “The way I see it, there’s far more ROI for the marketing team than for anybody else because the savings from forgoing unnecessary focus groups and the ability to repair and redirect flawed advertising campaigns will pay for a speech initiative many times over,” he says. “I don’t care what speech vendor you use; the price of your speech solution suddenly becomes chump change.”


Hearing Is Believing

Analysts like Paul Tessier recognize that when marketing shares in the bounty of speech analytics data, everybody wins. Tessier, a speech analytics manager at one of Canada's leading financial institutions, doesn’t just feed data to his marketing colleagues, he welcomes them into the process from the get-go. He begins with his own discovery process to identify what marketing wants to learn, then programs the search engine accordingly to isolate calls pertaining to those specific issues. He then invites marketing folks to listen to selected calls, either by providing access to the actual audio files via a secured shared drive or by inviting them to a conference room where the calls can be accessed directly from the speech application.


The reaction? Priceless. “It wasn’t uncommon to hear, ‘Oh, I can’t believe I’m hearing that!’” Tessier says. “Often there were ‘Aha!’ moments where they’d scurry off to tell their managers what they heard. Marketing people have the best perspective of whether a product is being positioned or explained correctly, so inviting them to listen in on the right calls is the best way to make sure that key decisions are being made correctly.”


Active Meeting image.jpg

Inspired by marketing’s enthusiastic response, and having successfully implemented a similar program in another organization, Tessier is looking to expand and formalize the process at the bank. While working for a large telecom company, he conducted monthly calibration meetings that focused on a monthly discussion topic supplied by the executive team. Each four-hour meeting was attended by a cross-functional team—comprised of representatives from customer care, customer experience, sales and marketing—that listened to high-value calls on the specified topic. “Every meeting generated light-bulb moments and actionable takeaways,” Tessier says. “For instance, a marketing rep would recognize why customers were getting confused by the way agents were explaining a particular product feature.”


By gathering various departments together, challenges can be identified, discussed, and acted upon quickly and effectively. “Someone might say, ‘That’s a customer care issue, I’ll take care of it,’ while someone else says, ‘I’ll own that one, it’s a marketing issue.’” Tessier says. “Coming together as a group lends itself to people stepping up and holding themselves and each other accountable.”


What prompted Tessier’s advocacy for sharing agent-customer conversations with other departments? Well, let’s just say he learned his lesson the hard way. “After getting a request from marketing to analyze a particular issue, I spent weeks building out a cost analysis, tracking call volumes, and identifying trends in utterances and categories, then submitted the report with three calls,” he says. “I later found out it was the three calls that moved the project forward! I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I put three weeks into those analytics and they barely looked at the report. Next time, I’ll just submit the three calls!’”


Good call, Paul. Time after time, I’ve seen clients shift their focus to make marketing a higher priority after conducting a content audit and hearing what’s “really on the calls.” A content audit enables you to better understand the real “voice of the customer” and identify the most impactful issues.




About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken



Be Mindful of Marketing

Posted by scottbakken Jan 25, 2016


In the days before speech analytics, marketing intelligence could be hard to come by. According to Jim Linkhauer, now a speech analytics consultant for Adtech Global, a provider of contact center services, the most effective data extraction tool was a box of Krispy Kremes. “When I was an operations manager,” recalls Linkhauer, “I would have to walk down the middle of the call center with a box of doughnuts to get agents to tell me anything about what customers were saying about the product we were selling.”


After his company implemented a speech tool, Linkhauer combed through analytics results during a national product launch and gleaned insights about everything from the effectiveness of the ad campaign to competitive offers to customer complaints. Linkhauer began sending the marketing team nuggets of information on a daily basis to aid and support their strategic decisions. “Listening to what the voice of the customer was telling us about the product we were launching was invaluable,” Linkhauer says. “Data like ‘5 percent of callers are signing up long-term’ and ‘how often callers bring up names of specific competitors when the new product is mentioned would end up on the CEO’s desk and he’d say, ‘This is awesome! What else can you tell me?’”


When product teams studied the data, they’d ask specific follow-up questions, prompting Linkhauer to build more search categories and locate relevant customer-agent conversations. Not only were results quick and accurate, not a single doughnut was required. “I once heard someone say that speech analytics is like having an instant focus group with 24/7 trending analysis,” Linkhauer says. “It helps take the guesswork out of marketing.”


Patrick Botz agrees. “Speech analytics is a fantastic tool for quickly identifying competitors’ new campaigns and threats,” adds Botz, a vice president for VPI, a provider of speech analytics and workforce optimization software. “By tagging CRM data such as campaign name, product name, and order value to recorded calls, marketers can focus their speech analytics searches on higher-value calls for even greater insights.”


Marketing image 3.jpg

Without a doubt, speech analytics produces a treasure trove of business intelligence that can help marketing make critical course corrections that can revitalize a sagging campaign. Too often, however, this statistical gold dust doesn’t make it across the Great Divide between operations and marketing.


As Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “What we got here is a failure to communicate” (although I’m fairly certain he wasn’t referring to speech analytics). Unfortunately, operations and marketing tend to be siloed in many businesses, and neither department pays much attention to the other.


Once contact centers actually implement a speech analytics solution, improving marketing and communications gets shunted aside like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.


Our experience with clients confirms that speech analytics is largely considered an operations application. Feedback from contact centers that had implemented analytics as well as centers that were planning to, all prioritized operational goals like “improve customer experience and satisfaction,” “improve agent performance,” “improve processes,” and “improve training.” Meanwhile, marketing’s most urgent questions—from “What’s going on with the new product launch?” to “Have we positioned the product correctly?” to “What are consumers saying about the product?”—go unanswered.


That’s a shame, because marketing and operations ignoring each other is like two brothers fruitlessly jumping up under a tree branch to reach an apple just beyond their grasp. Ah, but if one gives a boost to the other, they can win the prize and share in the bounty. Case in point: If marketing adds more user-friendly self-serve options to the company’s website, operations could see a big drop-off in customer calls. The result? Reduced expenses and happier customers. Everybody wins.




About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken



FCR - One Call, That's All

Posted by scottbakken Dec 26, 2015

In the musical theater adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, the lyrics to the song, “No One Else” begin with: “First time I heard your voice / Moonlight burst into the room.” It’s just a hunch, but given Tolstoy’s lack of references to call centers, this lyric is probably not referring to agent-customer conversations. In fact, when an agent first hears a customer’s voice, the only thing that should be bursting into the room is a sense of urgency.



Industry experts have long estimated that 25 cents of every dollar spent by a call center goes toward fixing issues that weren’t properly addressed during the customer’s initial call. Those experts were overly optimistic. A recent study by the Yankee Group revealed that 66 percent of all contact center costs can be attributed to callbacks.


It’s no wonder that more organizations than ever are focusing on First Call Resolution (FCR) strategies designed to reduce the number of interactions between their agents and customers. Solving a customer’s problems during their first call:

  • is the fastest and easiest way to significantly reduce costs;
  • is an excellent way to measure your call center’s effectiveness;
  • improves customer satisfaction;
  • increases customer retention rates.


According to the SQM Group, FCR is the highest correlated measure to customer satisfaction of all contact center measures. The statistics are stunning: a 1 percent gain in FCR translates into a 1 percent gain in customer satisfaction.


What’s the best way to improve FCR? Speech analytics. A speech tool is an effective, scientific means to quantify the number of customers who call more than once to resolve their issues. Contact center management can leverage speech analytics to identify trends and specific behaviors, customer issues, hints of attrition, process challenges and inhibitors to FCR.


Many companies that incorporated speech analytics as part of their FCR strategies have reported improvements of 8 to 10 percent simply by correcting how their agents respond. In fact, just the awareness of speech analytics can change agent behavior. Prior to deployment, one organization’s customer callback rate was nearly 8 percent. Once agents knew that all their interactions were being monitored and evaluated through speech analytics, the rate dropped closer to 3 percent.


Elevating FCR rates is a big reason why speech analytics tends to pay for itself many times over. Although no speech tool is 100 percent accurate, an automated approach will be far more accurate than any individual’s speculation or judgment. “Time and time again, analytics has helped our clients discover more effective ways to address customer issues when they first surface,” says Scott Kendrick, VP of Marketing for CallMiner. “Analytics isn’t just a better way to track FCR or repeat calls. It provides actionable information and supports root cause discovery, allowing call centers to minimize repeat calls and the need for callbacks. This should be a priority for every call center.”


A recent benchmarking study by the Ascent Group disclosed that the most common non-SA method used by call centers to measure FCR is massaging data from customer management systems like CRM and CIS.


Unfortunately, these commonly used traditional methods are inherently flawed due to factors such as:

  • subjectivity of the agent in what and how he or she chooses to report;
  • lack of a simple way to correlate key utterances to patterns of caller behavior;
  • limited source of data from customers willing to participate in surveys
  • inability of QA team to have confidence in the data they’re analyzing.


In contrast, speech analytics offers distinct advantages:

  • customer comments are captured and examined objectively and scientifically based on actual utterances, instead of relying on individual agents’ biased views about whether an issue has been resolved;
  • all phone interactions are scrutinized, not just a random sampling;
  • calls are filtered based on the relevance to issue resolution
  • the data collected can reveal patterns and expose issues that can be used to retain customers.

FCR Resolved.jpg


The Three Components of a Successful FCR Program

Optimizing FCR is both a science and an art. The best outcomes occur when all three of the following elements are in place:

1) Identify repeat calls

2) Understand the root cause of why customers are calling

3) Identify process improvements


1) Identify Repeat Calls

Let’s begin by examining the anatomy of a typical repeat call:


Caller: “Hi, maybe you can help me. I talked to someone yesterday about the service light on my converter box and they told me that if it stopped working again, I should just call back. This is kind of frustrating. The light went out last night and the TV won’t work. Actually, I’ve called four times over the last two weeks. They keep telling me to try something new and if it doesn’t work, I should just call back. At this point, I’d just like a new box.”


Although it’s clear that this customer has called in before, identifying a repeat caller is not always so obvious. In some cases, customers may even deny having called before. Only by auditing hundreds of recordings can you isolate all the potential phrases (e.g., “I just spoke with” or “I contacted you”) that single out a repeat caller. You may be surprised at how many ways repeat callers can be identified.


The overall efficiency of this process will depend on the capabilities and features of your speech tool. To ensure accuracy, you will also need to distinguish repeat calls from agent callbacks, dropped transfers, previous interactions through different channels and other potential reasons for a callback.


2) Understand the Root Cause of Why Customers Are Calling

Imagine if your annual review consisted of just one statement, and that your compensation was dependent on it. If your review stated that you were an “average employee” without offering any insight into how you were performing in each of your various responsibilities, you wouldn’t know what areas were in need of improvement or even where to begin. Consequently, little if any improvement would actually be made.


The same dynamic holds true for call center operations. Repeat callers often call about issues that are unlikely to be detected by random samplings.  If you don’t know what issues are driving these calls for each segment or workgroup, you cannot hope to resolve those issues and reduce call rates. These issues can only be uncovered and addressed when speech analytics provides solid evidence that a recurring problem exists.


The first step in root cause analysis is creating categories. Start with big buckets (e.g., “billing issues”) and create smaller buckets (e.g., “billing late payment”) as needed. Second, identify the cause of the problem for each category. Is it an operational issue? A language barrier? Insufficient agent training?


Third, arrange meetings with the departments responsible for the issues at hand. Present actual recordings for each team to listen to and review. Listen to about 10 calls in each category so the issue is clearly understood. If clarity is lacking, you may need to refine your measurements or widen your investigation. This process of reviewing high-value recordings is the most effective way to communicate problem areas and spur action. Even so, be prepared to encounter defensiveness and resistance. You may be required to ask tough questions and challenge the status quo.


Fourth, develop recommendations. Ensure that the appropriate department and personnel take ownership of the problem and design an action plan for change. Last, implement the action plan and follow up by monitoring the overall number of calls and FCR metrics to ensure that the solution was effective.


Pinpointing the root causes of calls and resolving the associated issues allows you to track FCR performance on a per issue basis . For example:

-- After spotting a pattern of customers calling to complain about their password not working, one organization was able to reduce call volume by 2 percent just by identifying and fixing issues with its password reset process.

-- A retailer told me he was able to reduce the number of callers who wanted to speak with a receptionist by 5 percent by identifying why customers were calling, and then adding a new option in their auto attendant menu.

-- My company recently helped a healthcare organization figure out why it was receiving so many midday calls. By recording hits on utterances like “keep having to call” and “third time I’ve called,” analytics revealed that a significant percentage of calls were coming from patients who were unable to reach their doctors. Once they understand the problem, they  could work on closing the loop with a solution.


3) Identify Process Improvements

Regularly review your entire operations, from people to processes to technology, to identify errors, inefficiencies and bottlenecks contributing to repeat calls. One organization’s speech tool revealed customer confusion about its loyalty program. Alerted to the issue, marketing found an error in the program’s Silver package, which was quickly corrected.


Searching through an agent’s calls for targeted key words and phrases almost always uncovers opportunities to improve performance. A verage handle times will increase and the number of callbacks will spike if the agent lacks knowledge on a given topic and consequently provides wrong or incomplete information.  You may also find that well-intentioned agents are unwittingly inviting customers to call back by saying things like, “If that doesn’t work, you can always call.”


Through valuable insights gained with speech analytics, one call center retrained their agents and decreased the percentage of repeat calls from 40 percent to 30 percent, with a 20 percent improvement in average handling time. By becoming more efficient, management could cancel plans to hire 20 new agents.


Of course, not all repeat calls are the fault of the agent.  Agents are tasked to resolve customer issues on the spot, which may mean answering a billing question to the customer’s satisfaction or finding a technical solution. It’s therefore incumbent upon call center management to ensure that the correct processes are in place so agents have access to  necessary information and can find this information quickly and easily. If  the agent doesn’t know how to answer basic questions like, “How quickly will the product be shipped?” it’s unlikely that your FCR goals will be met.


Closing Thoughts

First Call Resolution is the holy grail of call center effectiveness. No other statistic comes close to its impact on performance. Applying speech analytics to conduct structured searches of agent-customer conversations, perform root cause analysis and identify areas in need of improvement throughout the enterprise will make your call center leaner, more efficient and more profitable. When a customer’s first call is their last call, everybody wins.




Phrases Said by Customers Indicating They Had Called Before

Phrases Said by Customers Who Were Calling Again Because Their Issue Had Gone Unresolved

Called a few days ago

Hasn't resolved it

Called already

Having the same issue

Called before

I haven't gotten it yet

Called in yesterday

I haven't had any responses back

Called just a few minutes ago

I haven't heard back

Called last night

I haven't heard from anyone

Called this morning

I still can't view it

Called three times already

It keeps happening

Called three times before

It's been more than a month

Called twice already

I've been waiting all week

Called two times already

Never got done

Called two times before

Never heard back

Called yesterday

No one called me back

Couldn't get through

No one's contacted me

Had to call back

Nobody called me back

Have to keep calling

Nobody ever called me back

I called last weekend

Said he would e mail me

I just got off the phone

Still outstanding

I just spoke with you

Still waiting

I just talked to someone

Taking over a month

I spoke to someone else

Third call I've had this

I tried calling before

Tried to fix it twice

I was talking to somebody

Waiting for an update

I've been trying to call

Waiting for three days

I've called before

Waiting for two days

Keep having to call

Was supposed to call me

Second time I called


Spoke to somebody before


Spoke to somebody else


Spoke to somebody yesterday


Third time I've called


Tried to call you earlier





About MainTrax

MainTrax is a leading provider of speech analytics professional services and managed services to end users and industry partners. Free of allegiance to any one solution or supplier, MainTrax has earned a reputation as an independent, unbiased resource for consulting expertise across a variety of products and providers.


About Scott Bakken

Founder and President of MainTrax, is an independent voice of the speech analytics industry.


Scott Bakken