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Avoiding Smoke and Mirrors: How to Find the Interaction Analytics Solution Best Suited for You

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“Look before you leap.”  “The proof is in the pudding.”  “Put your money where your mouth is.” “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  There are numerous phrases that center around the theme of doing your research, making sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and verifying that something actually does what it claims before you make a decision.  These are all adages that should be applied when considering an interaction analytics solution.

Let’s face it.  The speech and interaction analytics market can be a bit confusing and vendors will make claims about everything under the sun.  And everyone will be able to give you a whiz-bang demo that walks you through a story line and shows you the potential reports you’ll be able to generate.  Don’t get me wrong, all of this is helpful, and will definitely lead you down the path of being able to picture how your organization will utilize an interaction analytics solution and should get your wheels turning, thinking about the business benefits your company will realize.

 Narrowing the Field

The challenge arises when it comes to whittling down the vendor choices to just one. You want to pick the solution that’s best for your organization and you’re not as cookie cutter as the demos you’ve seen. You know that scalability, accuracy, the ability to prove business cases and deliver a solid return on investment are all keys to making a good decision.  So how do you ensure that what you’ve seen is what you’ll get, once it’s up and running in your environment?

 Try Before You Buy

The best advice I can offer is to conduct a proof of concept.  Ask your short list of vendors to create a custom demonstration using your interactions, calls, and data.  This is the only way to ensure that the solution you’re about to invest in will suit your needs and provide the value you expect.  And best of all, if done correctly, a proof of concept will level the playing field.  Everyone should be given the same criteria, with the same rules to play by – that way you’ll be able to fairly judge the results for yourself.  There are some best practices to follow to make sure your proof of concept yields the results you’re looking for, and they merit some exploration.

For a company that’s smaller in scale and who will have a simpler interaction analytics implementation, a tour of the vendor’s solution – with the customer’s audio being used for searches, playback and basic report generation to prove a simple business case such as compliance or agent performance – is enough to show how the solution will work in the customer’s environment.  For a scenario like this, up to 10,000 calls can be used.

For a larger company who’s looking to make a substantial investment in interaction analytics and incorporate it into the framework of their organization, both inside and outside the contact center, a more thorough investigation is required.  For this type of proof of concept, here are the parameters I recommend:

  • Give each vendor 1 week to conduct a proof of concept.  You want them to be able to prove that they’re able to successfully ingest, index, and analyze calls in a timely fashion.  This will be very indicative of the time to insight you can expect when you get to the implementation phase once a final decision is made.
  • Use a minimum of 100,000 calls.  You want to have an adequate sample size and have insight into how vendors handle call volume.
  • Vendors must make all 100,000 calls searchable.  It’s important that the vendors not index only a portion of the calls that you provide.  This will speak to their ability to scale and handle 100% of your audio in the future.  Business cases like first call resolution or anything related to agent performance require all of the interactions.  How can you measure and improve when you are missing interactions?  Sampling just isn’t good enough.  Scalability is an important factor, as I discussed in the last post when I defined it, so it shouldn’t be overlooked at this stage of the game.
  • Vendors must conduct an investigation focused on key business areas uncovered using the calls provided.  This can come as direction that you have provided if you know there is a specific business case you want to investigate, or, you can rely on the vertical expertise of the vendors to guide the investigation.  Remember, you want your chosen vendor to be your analytic partner, and be able to guide you as you use your interaction analytics solution to bring about transformational change to your organization.  The way vendors structure business cases during the proof of concept, and the value of the findings they present during this stage, should give you confidence that they will continue to help you realize a return on your investment.
  • Vendors must give a final read-out that is a combination of both a presentation of findings and a live demonstration.  It must use your audio.  You want to ensure that what you’re seeing was generated using your data, produced by the interaction analytics solution you’re considering for purchase — not just a graph created in PowerPoint.  You should be able to run searches in the system for phrases in your calls, have accurate results returned to you, pull up reports and drill down into your actual calls that generated those reports.

Finding the Right Fit

By setting up your proof of concept using these guidelines and requiring all of your short-listed vendors to stick to the same rules, you’ll get as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as possible.  Yes, the underlying technologies will be different and the user interfaces won’t look the same, but because you’ve done your homework, this process will help separate the vendor with the best solution from the rest of the pack.  You’ll understand that what matters is whether or not the vendor was able to work with you – your audio, your data, your business challenges – and produce meaningful results that you could see applied to your enterprise in a meaningful way.  You will have cut through the smoke and mirrors and found the interaction analytics solution that puts its proof in its pudding.

For more information about how to structure a proof of concept and what to expect from the process, listen to our podcast with Terry Walls, Senior Principal at Accenture.  He offers valuable insights on the topic based on his years of experience guiding clients in their decision making process.

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