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Why Transcription Accuracy Matters for Contact Center Conversation Intelligence

Most call centers let valuable intel slip away through poor transcription accuracy. Here's why transcription accuracy is so vital to business success.

New innovations in conversation intelligence and QA automation solutions are changing the game in companies’ ability to learn from call centers’ frontline interactions, but there’s one key element that often gets overlooked: transcription accuracy.

Recording customer calls “for quality assurance” is table stakes for contact centers, because businesses realize the wealth of data they hold.

These are real consumers, asking real questions, sharing real feedback. Every one of those interactions can contain data “gold” that’s crucial to a contact center's success in driving growth, revenue, and customer satisfaction.

It’s a disservice not to mine customer calls for business-critical insights. And in order to do that at scale, you need a system that accurately transcribes them.

Unfortunately, leaders assume their voice-to-text call transcription systems work as intended, but most are more error-prone than they realize—which leads to downstream inaccuracies and missed value. It’s time to shine the light on this critical weakness in contact center operations!

In this article, we look at nine reasons customer call transcription accuracy is so vital to your business. (Also be sure to check out our separate article on How to Improve Contact Center Transcription Accuracy to Boost Performance and Fuel Growth).

Transcription accuracy: the overlooked key to call center value.

Transcription accuracy provides the foundation for downstream automation and analysis, but for many businesses, that foundation is shaky at best.

Here’s a simple example: Let’s say you want to understand how many times your brand is mentioned alongside positive customer sentiment.

If your company name is CB Health, but your voice-to-text transcription system renders it as “see bee health,” that data will be unavailable to you.

Here’s another example: Let’s say part of your agents’ compliance process is to ask for a customer’s address before providing sensitive financial information, and you want to make sure your agents are in compliance.

If your voice-to-text transcription system transcribes “address” as “a dress” or “at rest,” it will be impossible to use automation, analytics, or even a simple search to understand how often agents are asking for an address and whether they’re in or out of compliance.

The impact of low-quality transcripts multiplies across thousands of calls, each full of potential data points. As a result, you may have a great-looking dashboard giving you all the wrong intel.

This can completely derail your efforts to train agents, support customers, and drive business goals.

On the flip side, investing in a conversation intelligence platform with high transcription accuracy—as well as these steps to ensure high transcription accuracy—can improve every aspect of contact center operations, from quality assurance to surfacing business issues to boosting customer satisfaction.

What does transcription accuracy really mean?

Measuring accuracy is about more than just a simple percentage. Many contact center recording solutions claim an accuracy in the 85-90% range, but those numbers can be deceiving.

First of all, you have to consider in what environment that accuracy was measured. Was it a perfectly clean audio recording? Or is it from a real-world contact center with background noise and customers and agents talking over each other?

Then, you have to consider what is in the percentage that’s being captured correctly, and what’s being missed?

Any 1% of customer call data you lose with an inaccurate transcription or analysis may be the 1% that mattered most. Consider the brand name example in the section above: if that 1% means the system fails to pick up your brand name, your analysts won’t have access to that data.

Quality also matters—a truly accurate transcription captures tone, context, and sentiment, providing a window into the subtext of every moment within a call.

“Don't take 80% or 90% accuracy at face value. What matters most is if the context behind the words is captured and critical business terms are recognized. These words and the intent gathered from tonality, frequency, rate of speech, and more, become the foundation to deciphering key moments and sentiments from conversations.” 

-Jithendra Vepa, Observe.AI Chief Scientist.

Now that we’ve discussed what transcription accuracy means, let’s take a look at the top nine reasons it is so vital to your business.

9 ways superior transcription accuracy benefits businesses.

While it’s amazing how much can go wrong from poor transcription accuracy, the good news is high accuracy is available, and it can transform your call centers into sources of incredible strategic value in the following nine ways.

1. Get accurate analysis of trends in your business

With contact centers fielding a minimum of 30,000 calls per month (and often much more), leaders must be able to see what’s happening across their operation. This is key to improving agent behavior, driving operational efficiencies, identifying new product developments, and more.

For example, when EmployBridge, the nation’s largest industrial staffing firm, started using Observe.AI, the enhanced transcription accuracy surfaced a key trend in 30% of its calls, which equated to a $34 million missed revenue opportunity. It used its new insights to implement new coaching initiatives to capitalize on these insights and discover new ones.

2. Ensure compliance and confidentiality

Data breaches have become increasingly common for major companies. Microsoft, for example, revealed a major breach in early 2020, which included many customer service call logs. Redaction of some sensitive information reduced the impact, but the perpetrators were able to obtain a good deal of readable data.

Compliance and privacy failures can lead to heavy fines and reputation damage, and these imperatives of contact center performance depend on high transcription accuracy. For example, if your system can’t identify whether or not agents are asking the proper security questions, you won’t know if your team is in compliance or potentially at risk of regulatory violations.

In addition, new technologies are able to identify sensitive information like credit card numbers or other protected information and automatically redact them in the transcript—but only if the system can accurately transcribe the conversation in context.

3. Automate call analysis

New customers often tell us they’ve been making decisions based on evaluations of a small percentage of calls (2% is common), without knowing if the information reflects an actual trend.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning systems have empowered automation and scaling of call analysis. This leads to more comprehensive data sets to make decisions. 

When the transcripts are accurate, this can be a game changer for businesses. When they’re not, the machine can’t recognize the words or sentiment of the conversation—so you will be scaling analysis based on false data!

4. Allow for searchable insights

Leaders and analysts need to be able to search their conversation intelligence system for keywords and important issues to see how many instances occur of a certain question, concern, or problem. 

If the transcripts are incorrect, this isn’t possible. 

And it’s not just about the text. You also need to be able to search by speaker, context, and sentiment. Speaker recognition is vital for search effectiveness, as the meaning of a word or phrase will be very different depending on whether spoken by your agent or a customer.

5. Discover business issues and opportunities

Low transcription means you’re guaranteed to miss important information about what’s happening with your business and where you need to focus attention. 

Are customers complaining that products or services aren’t working? Is your website down? Are there billing issues?

Or, are many people making requests for new products, services, or features you could develop and sell to an eager market? 

Capturing all that information in your transcripts gives you a major advantage for identifying and addressing both problems and opportunities.

6. Get faster, better quality assurance

Typically, QA analysts spend an excessive amount of time manually filling out checklists and going back to verify data by listening to recordings. This labor carries a massive cost for businesses while giving insight into only a fraction of a contact center’s data.

When your transcription accuracy is solid, QA analysts have an easier time evaluating calls and agents because they can skim a transcript and trust that it’s right. 

Going a step further, when you know your transcripts are correct, you can let an automated QA solution handle the QA process for you. Then your human analysts can focus on their strategic work, saving your company money, building high performing teams, reducing agent churn, and providing a far higher level of value.

7. Better sales and customer experience

80% of customers will go to a competitor after one bad experience.

If you lack clarity on what customers are saying, you can’t make things better for them. Accurate transcriptions means you can identify the top performing sales behaviors and scripts faster. You’ll also be able to quickly identify common objections, questions, and upsell opportunities 

High transcription accuracy paired with fast (or even real-time) AI call analysis can give you the opportunity to turn around a negative situation. 

And even if you can’t salvage that customer, it can help you identify how to keep the next 100.

8. Employee success

Your agents are at the frontlines of your contact center’s operations. However, they’re relying on you to ensure they have the right tools and support. Low transcription accuracy undermines agent coaching and training and can therefore contribute to negative performance metrics like low net-promoter scores and high long-handle times. 

On the other hand, accurate transcriptions ensure accurate agent assessments and the ability to get them the right support for improved performance.

9. Employee morale and retention

Turnover is a big industry issue with major costs. According to this CCW report, one in three contact center leaders (33%) say high agent turnover is one of their biggest pain points. 

Because high transcription accuracy leads to accurate assessments and appropriate training, you can avoid wrongful reprimands or terminations. Even better, you can show your employees you value them by appropriately giving bonuses and promotions. And you can help them feel supported in growing and succeeding by giving them the only coaching they actually need.

Transcription accuracy unlocks and multiplies the value in every customer interaction.

It’s amazing what something as seemingly mundane as “transcription accuracy” can actually mean for businesses, their employees, and the people they serve. 

With today’s powerful conversation intelligence tools like Observe.AI, you can accurately transcribe and analyze 100% of your call data and bring all key conversation moments to your attention. This leads to far-reaching business benefits: operational, cultural, and financial.

Leaders gain the insights they need to put out fires and make timely, strategic decisions. Employees feel good about their work. Customers have a positive experience with the company. Everybody wins.

Of course, accurate transcriptions are just the starting point for contact center success. Ready to see how the world’s leading conversation intelligence platform can transform your contact center into a hub of strategic business value? Contact us for a demo.

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