Real-Time Analytics – The Next Boon to Customer Engagement Technology?

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The standard methodology used for analytics in customer interactions for the past decade has been to record the voice interaction between a customer and a call center agent, along with the agent’s keystrokes during the transaction, and review the recordings at a later time to determine what if anything could have been done better to improve the call.
  • Real-time analytics allows the analysis of the interaction as it takes place and enables the making of real-time business decisions to improve customer service while enhancing business operations in terms of increased revenues and improved efficiency.

There is little doubt that the ongoing shift from historical interaction analysis of contact center voice and data traffic to a real-time approach has the potential to revolutionize the level of customer care in the coming few years while vastly improving enterprise operations. Although any analysis of ongoing operations is better than no analysis at all, the major portion of available recorded data today continues to go unanalyzed in many contact centers. The reason for this is the fact that the analysis of the recorded data has always required a great deal of time, which disturbs the flow of operations by taking supervisors away from their main job – supervising agents. The result was that only a small, single-digit percentage of recorded traffics was ever analyzed and that was typically when something went very wrong.

Just last week NICE Systems introduced the NICE Systems Engage Platform, due for general availability this December. The new platform, based on patent-pending technology, enables businesses to include real-time interaction data and analytics into processes, creating a highly scalable real-time customer engagement center. The NICE Engage Platform reduces latency in the contact center ten-fold and increases multichannel recording capacity to ten times previous levels. NICE had introduced a few real-time sub applications in the past year including speech analytics and fraud prevention. However, the Engage Platform is the first attempt I am aware of by a customer care software company to offer a full suite of real-time applications to support multichannel customer care operations in a customer care environment. Real-time applications included are real-time fraud prevention, customer authentication, speech analytics, regulatory compliance, mobile management and process fulfillment.

The primary benefit of real-time analytics is that it improves the situation for both the customer and the enterprise while making overall operations superior to prior, non-real-time methods in terms of shifting critical business decisions from sometime in the future to during the interaction. Therefore the optimum handling of customer issues, the correction of potential problems, identification of fraudsters and the correction of non-compliance issues can be handled during the initial call and before the customer hangs up. Real-time decision making in a contact center means the enterprise can deter fraud before the damage is done, avoid non-compliance penalties, stop potential customer churn and nurture stronger customer relationships all by acting quickly and decisively.

Previous industry attempts at real-time analytics have been less than successful primarily because earlier real-time approaches to analytics proved to be a drain on system processing power and required a large number of servers running in parallel to achieve real-time decision making. NICE now claims that the introduction of its Advanced Interaction Recorder (AIR) server combines voice, agent screen and video logging on a single server that provides a breakthrough in total cost of ownership (TCO) never before achievable in contact centers. The single AIR server is capable of doing voice, video, screen, archiving and high scale real-time streaming for 5,000 channels with a single server.

Clearly, real-time analytics can be a boon to the customer care business, but it also entails a substantial investment over traditional models. The true value of a real-time solution can only be assessed by a thorough business case analysis that weighs those upgrade costs – plus the additional business analyst support required – against the potential customer service benefits they can provide. As of now the only thing NICE Systems will say about pricing of the new Engage Platform is “while our new Engage Platform is priced at a premium price over traditional recording to reflect its real time steaming capabilities, the unparalleled scale makes TCO considerably lower and the ROI is clear.”

About Ken Landoline
As Principal Analyst within the Current Analysis Business Technology and Software group Ken Landoline tracks the enterprise unified communications and contact center (UCCC) markets.

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