Illustration by Nicolas Vicent

There is no doubt that speech analytics delivers great value to contact centers looking to improve processes, performance and customer experience. Getting the most out of this sophisticated technology requires a comprehensive, strategic approach. And, as one organization discovered, when embarking on a speech analytics journey, it’s often the road blocks along the way that will help you to find a more successful route.

I had a chance to sit down with Brian Miller at Engage 2015, Verint’s annual global customer conference, to talk about the learning process that his team underwent to leverage speech analytics to deliver value to the contact center and other business units. Miller is the workforce operations administrator for the Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting User Services group, a multinational provider of integrated and intelligent information for businesses and professionals.

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting User Services group provides technical support, customer service, training and consulting to its software clients, who are accounting, tax and corporate finance professionals. The User Services contact center handles highly complex technical calls, and interactions can last 10 minutes or longer, with about half of those interactions taking place during its peak season—the four months that make up individual and corporate tax seasons.

A few years ago, the User Services group began to look into opportunities to streamline processes, increase efficiency and improve the customer experience. The organization installed Verint’s Speech Analytics solution to provide the much-needed insights.

As Miller soon discovered, taking a traditional approach to speech analytics by reactively analyzing recordings for keywords and phrases proved to be unproductive. “We encountered a lot of the common challenges that new users often face—we were always chasing issues instead of getting to the heart of them,” Miller recalls. “We had a very narrow focus. We only understood one point of view or one supervisor’s point of view, and there was little collaboration across the organization. We didn’t know what anyone else was doing, and we couldn’t see the big picture.”

A New Perspective: Flip the Model

Those early lessons helped Miller and his team to develop a new approach. About 18 months ago, they decided to turn their model upside-down to take a broader view. A key element of the new model was a focus on providing value to other departments across the organization.

“We decided that, if we wanted to have an impact on the business, we needed to be more impactful with our internal teams. We needed to make our initiatives more important to them,” Miller says. “So we stopped doing business cases, stopped chasing issues and we stopped making progress, which is a hard thing to do. Most companies wouldn’t be able to do that from the start because they want to see an immediate ROI.”

Taking a step back, Miller and his colleagues decided to address the User Services group’s call reduction objective by taking a top-down approach. To do that, he first needed to understand why customers were calling. Miller and his team launched a new project, which was appropriately named the “Why” Project.

To kick off the project, the committee, which included product leads and team leads from User Services, met to brainstorm the reasons why customers called the contact center. They came up with the top five “why” categories across all platforms and products. Not surprisingly, as a User Services operation, the No. 1 category was “how to”—customers calling to find out how to do something. Other top categories included tax and payroll compliance questions; download, installation and update questions; and data conversions.

The team then spent several months developing each category (there are about 200 terms that make up a category, he says) to identify the probable root causes for the calls.

Getting Other Departments On Board: Communicate the WIIFM

Once the committee developed a big picture view of the reasons why customers were calling, along with the root causes, the next step was to secure the support of other departments in fixing the issues. To do that, Miller developed a communication campaign to help the internal teams understand the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) behind the customer data. For instance, with download, installation and update issues, Miller was not only able to show the product development team that a large volume of customers were calling about the download-and-install package, but also which elements they found confusing and how to improve the process.

“Once you can provide other groups with a return on investment, they begin to listen—and then they become invested,” he says. “Our development team now sits in on business case studies, listening to calls and giving us feedback, which is a really different perspective for them and for us.”

Read the full story here.