21 Call Center Technology Leaders Reveal the #1 Mistake Companies Make When It Comes to Purchasing Speech Analytics Software

Purchasing speech analytics software is a major investment for both enterprises and SMBs alike. Like all major technology investments, purchasing speech analytics software comes with a bit of pre-planning and analysis. You need to determine how your company can best leverage this technology to ensure compliance, enhance customer service, support agents and reps, and get the biggest possible return on your investment.
What should companies know when they’re about to begin the process of evaluating and purchasing speech analytics software? To help you weigh the most important considerations and make the smartest buying decision for your company’s needs, we reached out to a panel of call center technology leaders and contact center pros and asked them to weigh in on this question:

“What’s the number one mistake call centers make when it comes to purchasing speech analytics software?”

Michael Maffei
Lee Fisher
Justin Poggioli
Ashish Koul
Mark Paetz
Greg Scott
Matt Flemming
Nabahat Shanza
Andy Haas
Josh Brown
Sandi Webster
Felix Winstone
Swapnil Bhagwat
Reuben Yonatan
Amanda Basse
Steve Solomon
Dr. Jim Sullivan
Mary Shacklett
Rick Delgado
Donna Fluss

Learn more about the biggest mistakes you could be making when it comes to purchasing speech analytics software – and how to avoid them – by reading our experts’ responses below.

Michael Maffei


Mike is the Vice President of Employee Benefit Services for HodgesMace.com. He has over 20+ years’ experience working with some of the world’s leading companies in driving change management, cost containment, and operational efficiencies in domestic and international organizations. He has a high degree of expertise in large-scale captive (customer service, HR shared services) and outsourced (inbound) contact centers. He has extensive experience in contact center transformations; including the identification and attainment of critical success factors in order to attain “Operational Excellence” and the “Customer Experience.”

“In my experience, it has more to do with not understanding the real need and/or impact on your organization…”

What are the full capabilities of the speech analytics software? For example, when companies are discussing utilization criteria, it typically revolves around two areas: customer experience and quality assurance. Customer experience to provide the customer with more options aside from dealing with a live agent, and to also detect issues with product or service. What is the customers preferred method of contact, and how it can assist in the resolution of their problems or questions?

Secondly, for Quality Assurance, it’s used to evaluate key speech patterns or complaint type phrases to identify issues with service, products, or individual agent performance issues. It can be used as a coaching and training tool to improve agent performance.

Lee Fisher


Lee Fisher is the General Manager at Roman Blinds Direct. He has held senior marketing positions since the age of 23, working across a number of sectors including hospitality, production, and e-commerce. Using his degrees in Spatial Design & Interior Design, and Organizational Behavior and Psychology, Lee has worked at Roman Blinds Direct for nine years.

“The most common and most dangerous mistake I’ve seen made, and I’ve seen it made more than once, is…”

Thinking that speech analytics software is going to solve everything all on its own. That’s sadly not the case; you can’t just set it and forget it then expect the quality of your customer service to skyrocket. This sort of software allows you to gather an absolute goldmine of data, and that is near priceless if you can make sense of it and use it to improve your business processes and your customer experience. Speech analytics software can be a very powerful tool, but only if it is wielded properly.

Justin Poggioli


Justin Poggioli is a senior manager in West Monroe’s Customer Experience practice, specializing in high-performance contact center services. He has more than 15 years of experience automating critical contact center functions and driving adoption of new technology.

“The number one mistake that call centers make when it comes to purchasing speech analytics is…”

To not have a broad enough view of how speech analytics can be applied to a call center. Often times, organizations are limited to a paradigm of running speech analytics after a call to assist in quality programs, training opportunities, and dispositioning. However, with more recent innovations in market technologies, real time analytics, escalation language, and objective compliance are all popular areas in which speech analytics can provide insight. Visibility to these metrics can drive large efficiencies and increases in customer satisfaction.

Ashish Koul


Ashish Koul is the SVP and GM, Americas of Servion Global Solutions. Servion enables business transformation for enterprises in customer experience management (CEM). Over the past two decades, Servion has evolved to being an industry pioneer in omnichannel customer experience. Servion manages over 10 billion customer interactions annually across 60 countries in 6 continents.

“The biggest mistake we see companies making when it comes to speech analytics is…”

The lack of a strategic plan around the deployment and use of speech technology.

Companies often purchase speech analytics as an add-on to their traditional workforce optimization tools without a clear understanding of why their customers are calling, and what they can do with the gathered data. This often results in a low ROI from these tools.

This is where experienced, consulting-led systems integrators like Servion can assist potential speech analytics practitioners by:

  1. Helping companies define the right business outcomes
  2. Recommending the right tools that can best help achieve those outcomes
  3. Funneling the insights from the speech analytics tools into the business process itself, such that long-term business improvement can be realized at the process-level

Mark Paetz


Mark Paetz is the Director of Quality Assurance at Higher Ed Growth. Higher Ed Growth (HEG) is a full-service marketing agency specializing in post-secondary education. HEG uses proprietary technology, like EduMaximizer, to deliver targeted enrollment leads to for-profit and nonprofit education clients.

“One of the biggest mistakes is…”

Not ensuring that recording quality aligns with the needs of the speech analytics software purchased. Using the right recording technology from the start matters. There’s no way to increase audio quality later on, and it can impact transcription and analytic ability. There are many things that can alter recording quality — audio formats, compression and so on — and it can mean the difference between capturing white noise or word recognition.

Without high-caliber recording quality, call centers are unable to best leverage data and derive actionable insights. They may also miss the mark on compliance.

Greg Scott


Greg Scott is the author of Bullseye Breach, an IT security educational book disguised as a thriller about how Russian crooks penetrate fictional retailer, Bullseye Stores, and steal 40 million customer credit card numbers.

“From the point of view of a consumer who receives too many call center calls…”

Far and away, the number one mistake these call centers make when purchasing speech analytics software is trying to make the software interact with me on a human level. It just doesn’t work and makes me mad when I spot it. I’ll put up with a machine that routes my call when I dial in to a call center. If a call center wants to call me to confirm an appointment or tell me a prescription is ready, just play the recorded message.

Simple is good. Don’t spend your money on a machine that tries to fool me into believing it’s a real person. If you want to call and have a conversation, use a real person who speaks fluent English.

Matt Flemming

Matt Flemming has spent the last 25 years in the resort casino industry, working to bring inbound resort call centers to higher ground. From strategy, to operations, to technology, a deep passion for call center advancement and empathy for agents informs all of Flemming Consulting’s client work.

“Once dazzled by the amazing depth of information that speech analytics can provide when applied to customer contacts…”

Executives often get excited by the prospect of culling all that data and using it to improve the business through the Voice of the Customer. The technology has really matured, and the demos can indeed be dazzling. However, before pulling the trigger on an expensive speech analytics platform, a company gut check is in order. That is, it’s important to get a true sense of the actual appetite for this kind of data.

One way to check for this would be to see how regularly (if ever), the executive team sets aside time to listen to recorded calls. Since recorded customer phone calls represent the same core data expressed by the speech analytics module, you can gauge the true level of executive interest by how often they’ve bothered to listen to these calls. If they’re not listening today, you may want to spend your money elsewhere, and the common mistake is often made in failing to properly characterize this interest. But, if they are actually taking time to listen to customer contacts today (however clunky without speech analytics software), then this maturing and useful technology may be worth the capital investment.

Andy Haas


Andy is a director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of its Customer Operations practice. With 18 years of consulting experience, Andy focuses on improving customer experience and reducing costs by helping clients transform their customer interaction capabilities and operations within customer service and sales functions. He holds a BA in Management and MS in Communication and Information Sciences from Ball State University.

“I see companies acquire speech analytics without a sound plan on how, when, and/or where to deploy…”

Some companies buy too much capacity, paying for more processing cycles and more storage than necessary from an ROI perspective. Most businesses don’t move fast enough operationally to justify continuous monitoring and the associated costs. Many businesses see better ROI and the same operational impact with less frequent sampling of contact and thus a lower cost.

Nabahat Shanza


Nabahat Shanza is a professional content writer for the blog of Dialer360. Her articles also published on other sites as a guest blogger. She has a command to write on call center software and new technologies used in contact centers. In her free time, she writes literature.

“It is vital to pick a solution that permits you to analyze calls in real time…

This implies that any client grievances will be flagged to a supervisor and resolved forthwith, serving to realize the first-call resolution and increase overall client satisfaction. Those solutions that analyze calls retrospectively are solely ready to determine issues once the caller has left the system, meaning the customer may have already sought out your competitors.

Real-time response offers a variety of advantages to the contact center. For instance, if a client displays shopping for signals, a pop-up script will be enabled on the agent’s table prompting them to close the sale. Additionally, supervisors may also advise agents on how to end a procurement or to supply steering through a troublesome decision. In the most severe cases, an associate alert will be sent to a supervisor to intervene in troublesome calls to resolve things.

Josh Brown


Josh is the Content & Community Manager at Fieldboom. Fieldboom allows you to create beautiful forms and surveys in less than five minutes.

“One mistake that call centers make when looking at purchasing speech analytics software is…”

A failure to assess and plan what they’re hoping to achieve with the software. It’s important to build a functional requirement list of what you want to use the software for as well as

whether the software fits with your current processes.

For example, is the call center looking to use speech analytics software to improve their agent performance, repair broken processes, streamline the customer experience, gain market and business insight, etc.

Once this is complete, the call center can then figure out which software has the necessary features needed (such as real-time analytics, the ability to build a single view of a customer, etc.) to help achieve their goals as well as if they have the necessary resources on hand to implement, monitor, and adjust the software as needed for optimal results.

Sandi Webster


As a Managing Director of C2G Partners, Sandi oversees Human Resources, Recruiting and Marketing. She provides both hands-on and strategic direction to cultivate marketing and HR strategies and tactics, and has worked with Customer Service departments in Fortune 500 companies.

“There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating and purchasing speech analytics software…”

  1. Customer service reps are evaluated based on specific company mandates that are scripted for them, such as saying their name as an introduction – and that script is keyed into the software. However, when a rep speaks too quickly, or there is noise in the background, the software dings them for not following procedures; therefore, they should look for software that has excellent speech and noise detection.
  2. Keywords detection is also a part of analytics. If saying “thank you” at the end of the call is standard, then the software should have the ability to detect if that was done – whether or not the exact words were used. Most software looks for the exact words and does not allow for conversational language.
  3. Accent (language) ability is another area in which speech analytics software should be adept. Mispronunciations happen all the time, given we have a diverse culture. One rep was almost fired because the software reported her swearing at a customer, but it was actually the rep saying the customer’s last name with an accent. This is an area where AI would be beneficial for both the call center and the rep.

Felix Winstone


Felix Winstone is the Co-Founder & Exec Director at Talkative, provider of WebRTC calling and cobrowsing solutions.

“The number one mistake call centers make when purchasing speech analytics software is thinking only about speech…”

Contact centers now handle chats, emails, SMS, and social media, all in addition to voice. This spread of new channels is increasing as time goes on, meaning that not having a true omni-channel insight is going to painful for ill-prepared contact centers. Customers will often have multiple interactions with contact centers at multiple touch points. Voice is no longer enough!

Reuben Yonatan


Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP. As an entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, Reuben brings a wealth of hands-on telecom industry experience, backed by a 10-year track record in strategically shaping operational functionality in all his ventures.

“One of the biggest mistakes call centers make is not readily preparing their analysts…”

In-depth training is necessary so that analysts can properly identify and resolve issues while keeping the company’s business drivers in mind. Implementing your new software and setting your analysts loose before preparing them will result in your purchase being all for naught. Thorough preparation can include having analysts listen to phone calls before they enter the respective company’s conventional training.

Swapnil Bhagwat


Swapnil Bhagwat is Senior Manager – Design & Digital Media and implementing marketing, social, content, digital, web and design strategies for the group companies at Orchestrate. He is an MBA graduate with work experience in the US, UK, and Europe. Swapnil has worked for more than a decade across a range of businesses for the global markets.

“Even in the age of Internet and Social Media…”

Most customers prefer using their phone to initiate communication with a company. While this channel can offer numerous opportunities for a company looking to enhance the customer’s experience, the process of recording, reviewing, transcribing, and analyzing the calls is highly expensive and labor intensive. The role of speech analytics software that can address this issue is, therefore, critical.

While an adequate tool can offer a range of features such as market intelligence reports, data-charts, automated agent-score-cards, etc., the product features are not the place to start when looking to buy one. Instead, the focus should be on the benefits that are relevant to your business which include comprehensible reports that are also intuitive, ease of use, agility in providing results, reliability, accuracy, and of course the cost. A company making a huge investment in speech analytics software that has only basic features to show might not be able to achieve the expected returns.

Amanda Basse


Amanda Basse is the Marketing Coordinator at Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista, in Orlando, Florida.

“The number one mistake call centers make when purchasing speech analytic software is…”

Not using it to identify areas of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Most people use speech analytics as a way to measure customer satisfaction or employee efficiency. However, that would leave a gaping hole of opportunity. Speech analytics can help identify up-sell opportunities that meet a customer’s specific needs.

Steve Solomon

Steve Solomon is a strategic leader with extensive experience in strategy, sales, marketing, and operations with Fortune 500 organizations. He has been successful in developing and executing strategies to grow the customer base, improve the customer experience and uncover business insights to create competitive advantage.

“The number one mistake call centers make when purchasing speech analytics software is…”

Not having a plan in place to leverage the data strategically at the enterprise level from Day One. This plan requires resources.

Speech analytics software works great with many vendors offering robust solutions. Most companies are exploring this technology (1) as part of a broader improve the customer experience strategy (coach agents on service levels, understand caller sentiment, etc.) or (2) to become more operationally efficient and save money. Both are valid justifications for
this investment. However, there are so many strategic uses of this data that go beyond the call center environment that most companies don’t have a plan in place to realize the full potential of this data and the capability gets lost when the next big thing comes around.

One example is how critically important this information is for product managers so they can
understand how customers are using and experiencing a product, trends in product quality, potential issues with vendors/suppliers, etc. A process for sharing information through reporting and dashboards as well as alerts on emerging trends is one way to fully leverage this information. You need talented data and analytics staff to set up these reports and not only continually mine the call center data, but combine it with other sales, marketing, financial, operational, and market data to realize full value and take advantage of strategic opportunities.

This is not a call center initiative but an enterprise initiative that expands the voice of the customer.

Dr. Jim Sullivan


Dr. Jim Sullivan has been working and teaching in the technology industry for nearly 30 years and holds advanced degrees in technology and business management. His past experience includes consultation for major BPOs around the globe. Currently, Jim is the senior IT leader in a mid-size national retail pharmaceutical company.

“Most call center operations purchase speech analytics software without really understanding what it can do…”

There is an expectation that simply installing the software will provide insights into agent performance, call management quality, and customer interactions without any real additional work. For speech analytics to really add value, the team must design queries, design analytics processes, and define research questions so the tools can provide the information the call center is seeking.



Velvetech offers premium custom software development services and fully managed agile programming teams of qualified IT specialists for mid-size businesses.

NOTE: The following information is excerpted from How to Evaluate a Speech Analytics Solution via Velvetech.

“Companies purchasing speech analytics software should not overlook real-time processing…”

Real-time processing of speech is an important feature of any speech-to-text transcription and analytics service. Having recognized predefined keywords in real-time conversations, the service displays the relevant information on the agent’s desk, successfully guiding him through an uneasy or important talk. Due to the use of scripts and knowledge bases inbuilt in the speech analytics solutions, a front-office can achieve higher first call resolution and increased level of sales.

It is certainly possible with most of the speech recognition and analytics services to review call transcripts after the conversations have already taken place. But the output will be more meaningful if an issue is appropriately addressed while the speakers are still on the phone and not once a customer has already hung up and chosen a competitor’s product. Overall, the implementation of the real-time speech recognition and analytics solutions helps companies to ensure clients’ satisfaction and in the long term minimize their attrition.

Mary Shacklett


Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print. She’s a contributing writer for TechRepublic.

NOTE: The following information is excerpted from Speech analytics: Why the big data source isn’t music to your competitors’ ears via TechRepublic.

“This is a salient issue in big data, because voice expressions remain as non-traditional data that are in the infancy of analysis…”

The question is: Are organizations missing out on business value by ignoring voice as an analytics source?


Is it likely that speech analytics practices such as analyzing voice tones and emotional content are going to take off? Probably not in the near future, in part because many companies still consider the concept too vague an area for their analytics investments. Yet, most of us understand differences in voice inflections and attitudes, such as:

  • I like that dress (a somewhat defensive posture when someone’s apparel choice might be getting questioned); and
  • I like that dress (a matter of picking out the dress you like).

For those companies that broaden their big data and analytics horizons to take advantage of relatively untapped areas like voice, there might also be differentiation in the form of competitive advantage.

Rick Delgado


Rick Delgado is a freelance writer. He has been blessed to have a successful career and has recently taken a step back to pursue his passion of writing. He enjoys writing about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet. He also occasionally writes for tech companies like Dell.

NOTE: The following information is excerpted from Speech Analytics: A New Way to Know Your Customers via CustomerThink.

“Getting to the heart of what the customer needs, expects, and demands is what speech analytics is all about…”

And it’s important to note that this doesn’t just apply to interactions within a business’s call center. The speech analytics concepts is quickly expanding to include the rest of the organization. After all, the insights gained from speech analytics can be applied to things like marketing campaigns, sales, new product designs, and more. The trick is finding ways to analyze customer speech when it’s not over the phone. The answer to that conundrum comes in the form of wearable technology, where business representatives can record customer conversations through devices they happen to be wearing. Not only can these conversations be saved for future use, but the analysis can all be done in real time. It’s no stretch to think a sales representative could get an alert in the middle of a conversation with a customer to try a different tactic that would be more effective based on the language the customer is using. As all flash storage systems become commonplace, this level of analysis will be much easier to perform for all organizations.

Donna Fluss

Donna Fluss is the founder and President of DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis and consulting. For more than 30 years, Fluss has helped end users build differentiated contact centers and vendors develop solutions for the market. She is the author of the book, The Real-Time ContactCenterthe Contact Center QA Guide, and many annual industry reports on contact center hosting, IVR, speech analytics, performance management, workforce management, surveying/enterprise feedback management, quality management/liability recording and contact center analytics.

NOTE: The following information is excerpted from Selecting the Right Speech Analytics Application via DMG Consulting.

“Enterprises should apply their standard technology selection best practices to a speech analytics acquisition…”

This assumes that an organization has already approved an investment in speech analytics. But teams that first need to justify the investment should build a business case that includes a return on investment (ROI) analysis and submit it to the investment decision committee (or chief financial officer) for approval.

Since speech analytics is a cross-functional application that provides benefits to sales, marketing, service, operations, R&D, and other departments, it’s important to make vendor selection a group decision. Although this slows the selection process, it helps ensure a successful implementation and will help speed the adoption rates throughout the enterprise.

How has your organization prepared to leverage the full capabilities of speech analytics software?