For the past two years The Pelorus Group has conducted in-depth studies of the market for contact center recording systems. Demand is dissected into two product categories, selective recording (quality monitoring) and full recording (logging). The demand characteristics are very different for each recording application, even though they are technically similar and often sold by the same vendors
When we updated our annual study with 2004 vendor data we were surprised that full recording not only greatly surpassed selective recording, but sales of selective recording, if you consider only the software piece of the product mix, actually declined 6 percent in 2004 compared with 2003.
We project that selective recording sales will flatten then tail off sharply in 2008 and 2009. Annual sales will decline from $207 million in 2004 to $153 million in 2009. World sales for full recording systems will grow from $281 million in 2004 to $553 million in 2009. These revenues are for contact centers only. We did not include public safety, financial trading floors and back-office applications.
Important demand drivers are concerns about liability and compliance, declining data storage costs, and diminishing cost differentials between full and selective recording. However, the main reason that full recording will continue to grow while selective recording fades is advances in speech and data mining. Call center management can now dive into the rich data base of millions of customer interaction records to identify the root causes of customer dissatisfaction. A good example recounted by one of the study participants was the case of a large maintenance organization.
The company had outsourced the appointment setting function. Customer satisfaction was falling despite good performance at the call center, as measured by standard KPI’s. Deep analysis of the data showed that the cause of the problem was lack of adequate parts inventory at local service centers. The offshore center, operating at a different time zone and lacking local inventory data, were setting appointments that could not be kept by local service personnel because of lack of replacement parts.
Human interactions are complex. Numerical KPI’s cannot capture the richness of live discourse between agent and caller. Hidden within these dialogues are important clues to improving the performance of the entire organization, not just the call center. Callers are telling us why they like or dislike our products or services. They offer useful suggestions for product or service improvements. They tell us how successful – or unsuccessful – branding and service initiatives have been. They alert us to potential defects that could lead to costly litigation if not acted on promptly. Callers may even tell us about competitor actions that could lead to a loss of market share. Enlightened companies understand that customer satisfaction should be the number one goal of call centers.
Satisfied customers are loyal customers. They buy more and they tell their friends about the good service they received. Simply knowing that a problem is exists is of little value unless you know what to do about it. To tap the data trove you have to have the data. Traditional quality monitoring requires that only 4 – 6 percent of calls need to be recorded and evaluated. That may be fine if the only goal is agent optimization, but if the enterprise wants to go further and really understand the customer experience, it needs all the data, not just a sliver.