Voice, speech analytics rising in Brazil call centers

By
Friday, February 9, 2018

The call and contact center market is flourishing throughout most of Latin America, and especially in Brazil.

Among the different reasons is cost-effectiveness. Latin American salaries for telemarketing agents pale in comparison to those in the US or even India. Another advantage for the region is a favorable time zones in relation to North America, where many multinationals are headquartered. A third factor is the Latin American idiosyncrasy geared toward human interaction.

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This is boosting the use of voice and speech analytics in many of the region's call centers. Bolstered by artificial intelligence, speech analytics technology can convert real-time unstructured phone conversations into valuable structured data about customer needs and expectations. Ultimately, such technologies make the work of human agents more efficient, while improving decision-making for companies.

According to a recent survey conducted by E-Consulting, the Brazilian contact center market is expected to grow 7.5% in 2018, generating over 51bn reais (US$15.6bn) in total revenues.

The self-service segment, which uses digital platforms to interact with customers, such as social media, apps, bots, intelligent audible response units and analytic technologies, is seen growing even more, at 26.1%, and accounting for 2.42bn reais of total market revenue, according to the same study.

Worldwide, the speech analytics market size is estimated to grow from US$589mn in 2015 to US$1.6bn by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 22% from 2015 to 2020, according to a separate study from research firm Markets and Markets. It says there are two categories of speech analytics vendors: a large group of competitors who sell basic applications focusing on identifying key words and phrases, and a smaller set of feature-rich solution providers who offer extensive business intelligence platforms.

For some established players in the segment of contact center technologies, Brazil is already the world's second largest call center market in terms of agent positions, just behind India. Major providers of contact center software technologies include AvayaNICEVerintHP and Callminer.

"Brazil has always been one of the largest contact center bases for Avaya and a pioneer for the company in the use of contact center solutions," Márcio Rodrigues, Avaya Brasil president, told BNamericas.

Avaya, which just announced the acquisition of cloud and AI-based contact center solutions provider Spoken, has a proof of concept for a speech analytics solution underway with a major telecom operator in the country. It is one of the players betting on the voice and speech analytics niche in the Brazilian market.

With Brazil having exited its 2015-16 economic recession, and Avaya having emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company is bullish on its sales outlook in the country this year. Furthermore, the local contact center market has started to demand more cloud applications, said Rodrigues, who cited a contract with an energy company.

Other vendors are slightly more advanced in the local sale of cloud-based contact center solutions. Such is the case of Israeli firm NICE. In a recent article, Luiz Camargo, general manager of NICE for Brazil and the Southern Cone, said that everything is connected with cloud-based solutions, which increase employee engagement and efficiency.

"By identifying opportunities for coaching and reviewing best practices with agents, managers need accurate, up-to-date data to provide meaningful feedback. Cloud-based quality management solutions provide leaders with a constant view of employee performance," Camargo said.

"Because data is always up-to-date, it can facilitate compliance with regulations or best practices that require performance reviews within a specific timeframe. Besides, cloud solutions protect against loss of information. Stored data is routinely uploaded and data centers hosting cloud servers are serviced and monitored 24 hours a day."

DATA SCIENCE

For many analysts, the voice and speech analytics market has reached maturity. But the fact is that large-scale implementations have yet to be seen in Latin America. Different approaches include phonetic indexing, speech-to-text transcription, speaker separation, talk-over analytics and emotion detection.

The next frontier for speech analytics is to enter the world of data science, with machine learning and artificial intelligence improving the ability of speech analytics to identify issues and minimize human interaction.

Could the increasing automation and use of technologies in contact center interactions impact the workforce of the segment? "I think we are still a bit far from that. What we are doing is raising the bar of the agents, improving their capabilities, empowering them," Rodrigues told BNamericas.