Can You Afford Not To Have Speech Analytics Software?

/ Speech Analytics

Speech analytics software is the unsung hero in the battle against future mis-selling scandals, following a series of high-profile incidents in the financial services sector.

Of course there have been the industry-wide problems, such as mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), endowment mortgages and, in business banking, interest rate swaps.

But this week’s statement from home emergency repairs specialist HomeServe Membership Limited is an indication of how mis-selling claims can hit any industry that falls within the jurisdiction of the financial regulators.

HomeServe announced on Monday that they have received a Draft Warning Notice from the Financial Conduct Authority relating to “historic sales and marketing, controls and governance, and complaints handling”.

A final penalty of £34.5 million is proposed in the letter, taking into account a 30% early settlement discount if HomeServe pay promptly – leading HomeServe to say they are “prudently increasing” their provision by some £30 million.

What went wrong?

HomeServe identified regulatory issues in their sales practices as far back as October 2011, and took immediate and earnest action to overcome the problem.

This saw widespread sackings of sales staff, and extensive retraining of others, as the company sought to prevent any further mis-selling and failures in customer service.

In a preliminary results report for the year ending March 31st 2012, the group’s chairman JM Barry Gibson said: “While this is taking longer and costing more to implement than originally planned, we are pleased with the progress we have made.”

Problems were particularly apparent during the unusually harsh winter, when many homes suffered boiler failures and were left without heating or hot water as HomeServe failed to repair their central heating equipment promptly.

The company has also come under fire for its cold-calling practices, which led to a large number of silent calls being made by its sales team.

All of these practices could have been easily flagged up using speech analytics software, which tracks calls and automatically highlights any causes for concern.

How does it work?

Speech analytics is a fairly self-explanatory term; sales calls are monitored around the clock, with the speech analysed for key content indicators.

These can include specific words and phrases, along with more general positive and negative patterns, and evidence of the conversation becoming emotionally charged.

Importantly, these indicators are then scored, giving a quantitative rather than qualitative assessment of the call that can be ranked and compared to an ideal threshold score.

Low scores indicate a risk of non-compliance, and the speech analytics software can flag up any such causes for concern, so that they can be investigated in more detail.

This pro-active approach to managing sales calls and other customer service interactions allows you to deal with problems before they have the chance to become widespread, potentially avoiding the kind of investigations and fines that HomeServe and others like them are currently facing.

Performance, Compliance and Profitability

At its core, speech analytics is about driving three things: performance, compliance and profitability.

Performance can be improved by analysing best practice in sales calls, the use of closing techniques, and whether any cross-selling opportunities were taken advantage of.

Compliance is ensured as every call is analysed, and not just a ‘representative sample’, meaning no individual examples of non-compliance are missed.

And profitability is maximised by optimising sales techniques while reducing the risk of costs associated with non-compliance, making speech analytics software a clear positive business investment in its own right.

Through all of this, your company is protected and its profits maximised on an ongoing basis, with the potential for one-off compliance action reduced and customer service improved – a holistic and pro-active approach to dealing with problems before they arise.

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Dave Fricker Google +