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Over the past year, as the entire world has adjusted to a “new normal,” divisions across Maximus have worked diligently to make the necessary adjustments to continue providing best-in-class support to our clients. As thousands of Maximus staff adjusted to working in a new environment (their own homes), Maximus managers and supervisors found themselves also needing to adapt the way they lead, coach, and manage their teams.

The shift to a “work-from-home” environment introduced new challenges with regards to performance management. In the traditional contact center setting, managers, and supervisors relied heavily on their ability to interact with their staff physically, whether it was responding to an escalation by walking to an agent’s side or monitoring staff adherence to performance expectations. However, in a fully remote contact center, these management tools are no longer available or extremely limited.

Even as traditional management tools were removed, new challenges were also introduced. In the conventional contact center setting, staff may have been conscious of the noise created by their neighbors’ conversation. Still, they did not have to worry about being interrupted by their child who needed help with schoolwork!

With fewer options for proactively managing and supporting staff and new challenges arising — Maximus projects are taking the opportunity to introduce new tools that transform the way we think about contact center performance management.

Enter, Silence Analysis. While a manager or supervisor may not be capable of observing/listening to every call every one of their agents makes in a work-from-home environment — a Speech Analytics application is! Speech Analytics is an umbrella term for a variety of analytics techniques that aim to automate listening to consumer interactions by leveraging a combination of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML).

Silence Analysis requires using a Speech Analysis application capable of analyzing the full-length audio file of every consumer interaction. These tools are equally powerful in analyzing the words used within a conversation as they analyze and understand the periods of silence that occur during the interaction.

What can Silence Analysis do?

  • Listen to 100% of calls! Rather than rely on managers, supervisors, or QA to sample calls, Speech Analytics applications are capable of “listening to” every single interaction. Not only does this save time for managers and supervisors, but it provides a new level of visibility and insight into team performance previously unavailable.
  • Detect and quantify silence or “dead air” on a call. This enables reporting and analysis of silence measures such as Total Silent Time per call, Avg. % Silence by Call Type, Avg. % Silence per Agent. Of course, measuring these factors is only the first step. Once baselines are established, managers and supervisors can set targets for silence reduction. Silence reduction, in turn, translates directly into AHT reduction.
  • Identify good and bad silence. There are scenarios during an interaction when silence is acceptable. Typically, this is while the agent is working in their system and the consumer is waiting. Understanding how much silence is acceptable for various interactions can help identify tasks agents are struggling to complete.  By identifying these scenarios, managers and supervisors can take the necessary action to coach, train, and better support agents through portions of the script that may be causing unnecessarily long periods of silence. In turn, this directly improves the overall customer experience of a caller.

Silence Analysis is not the only trick in the Speech Analytics bag. There are a lot of new dimensions to call center analytics that are enabled through speech, including Topic Mining, Sentiment Analysis, and QC Automation — all of which are currently being piloted or implemented at Maximus projects.

Co-author credit: Eric Stewart, Vice President, SOA, Performance Analytics
Eric is the executive lead tasked with integrating analytics to drive health and operational initiatives. He has been an analytics leader with Maximus for over 10 years, with an additional 5 years supporting analytical and clinical initiatives with a large health provider organization. Eric plays a significant and ongoing role with all health operations (Medicaid, Medicare, Marketplace, COVID-19 Response) and the use of analytics to improve outcomes.