Harnessing the Power of Voice Analytics to Support Agent Wellbeing

Author: Chris Robinson | Date: 15/02/2021

Traditionally, voice analytics has been used within forward-thinking contact centres to analyse customer responses; gauging their emotional state and helping to predict future behaviours. The benefits and functionality of this technology also mean that it’s widely used to identify agent skills gaps, flag potential complaints, review operational efficiency and monitor compliance. But this intuitive technology is now also emerging as an important employee-focused contact centre managers, both through the pandemic and in preparation for potential permanent moves to remote working and cloud-based contact centres. With Cisco reporting that out of 700 surveyed contact centre leaders, 62% plan to move to cloud-based contact centres within the next 18 months, the need to adopt the right technology is becoming a pressing issue. By utilising the functionality of voice analytics, contact centre managers are monitoring not only customer emotion and operational data, but thanks to holistic conversation analysis, also the mental health and wellbeing of their agents.

Why is voice analytics for agents so important?

In an office-based scenario, line managers generally have frequent contact with their agents, enabling them to pick up on their emotional state through body language and in-person interaction analytics. In this environment, any noticeable changes to their agents’ emotional state can be acted on quickly to give the right support at the right time. With the rise of homeworking and the resulting absence of the usual team environment, contact centre managers have told us that the prolonged period of homeworking and constant isolation gives rise to concern. With some agents finding the transition to remote working extremely difficult, it has in certain cases, led to the emergence of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. As reported by the Center for Workplace Mental Health, agents are experiencing disruptions to their daily living routines, which is causing added anxiety and stress. With the inability to visually pick up on signals and indicators that all is not well, many contact centres are now turning to voice analytics to effectively gauge the wellbeing of their agents.

How does voice analytics assess wellbeing?

By analysing verbal responses to determine an emotional state, voice analytics help to monitor wellbeing as well as predicting future behaviours. Managers can regularly review the sentiment and emotion that agents show in their conversations with customers, quickly recognising if they need some support and if there’s a change in their behaviour overall. Where call centre speech analytics works by determining the needs of a customer by the use of keyword detection, voice analytics goes one step further by combining those words with sentiment and emotion, resulting in a true understanding of both the customer and the agent.

How does the Awaken Intelligence voice analytics product work?

Through our voice analytics product, Awaken Conversations transcribes customer/agent conversations and applies categories automatically to understand the meaning, sentiment, and emotion. The agent’s tone of voice is analysed to understand how they’re feeling during a conversation and measuring the sentiment based on the words used.

Here’s a quick overview of how our voice analytics product works:

  • Call recordings are uploaded or streamed to a secure area and are then run through our AI models.
  • Behavioural analytics analyse the acoustics (including tone, pitch and energy), the sentiment (positive, negative and neutral words) and vocal emotion (anger, sadness, happiness, neutrality, anxiety and vulnerability).
  • Actionable insights are extracted showing the emotional journey and sentiment timeline.
  • All data is then shared to a dashboard for review and action where needed.

A pivotal moment for contact centres

Recent modelling by the Centre for Mental Health has forecast that as many as 10 million people will need new or additional mental health support as a direct result of the pandemic. It is without doubt, that early intervention for mental health issues is vitally important, not only for the well-being of the employee but also for the economy which is already in a precarious position for many industries. Anxiety and depression alone cost the global economy $1 trillion a year and Business Healthy state that ‘nearly 3 in every 10 employees will have a mental health problem in any one year – the great majority of which will be anxiety and depressive disorders.’ It’s a well-known and well-researched fact that contact centre agents are at higher risk of mental health issues than workers in other careers. Even as far back as 2003, leading research from HSE presented clear findings that contact centre agents were more susceptible to mental health issues. And, although working practices in contact centres have vastly improved over the last 20 years, the pandemic has presented new risks to mental health.

When you add the unfamiliar and isolating environment of homeworking to the challenge of delivering high levels of customer service and hitting challenging SLAs, we’ve reached a pivotal moment for the approach to employee wellbeing in contact centres. In the absence of being able to spot emotional shifts in a face-to-face environment and support agents when they are at risk of mental health issues, voice analytics can step in and come into its own to provide an added layer of support for contact centre leaders.

Voice analytics in action

‘We’ve been working with voice analytics and historically, we used it to mainly focus on customer emotions and predictors of future behaviour. With the rise of homeworking through the pandemic, it’s become imperative that we stay alert to the wellbeing and emotional states of our agents so that we can step in quickly with support where needed. Using voice analytics has enabled us to remotely pick up on any potential issues we would normally see in person and put the right support in place for our agents.’ MD, U.S. based Insurance company

If you would like to see a demo showing how voice analytics could benefit your contact centre, please fill out the form below and one of the team will be in touch to arrange a meeting with you. You can also read more about our voice analytics product here.