Our first-time evaluation of this dynamic market, The Forrester Wave™: Conversation Intelligence For Customer Service, Q3 2023, is now live! We looked at the top 11 vendors in this market today and evaluated them across 32 criteria.

Forrester defines conversation intelligence for customer service (CICS) as:

Software solutions that analyze speech and text conversations between contact center agents and customers to derive actionable insights for improved operational efficiency in the contact center, increased agent and organizational compliance, and better customer experience (CX). These are standalone platforms that include capabilities such as automatic quality monitoring and agent augmentation features that improve agent performance through relevant coaching.

The CICS market is an interesting one, with vendors coming to the space from various angles. In The Conversation Intelligence For Customer Service Landscape, Q2 2023, we outlined the three key “pillars” of CICS, reflected in the three foundational current-offering criteria of this Wave:

  1. Conversation analytics
  2. Automated and hybrid quality scoring
  3. Agent augmentation

While other current-offering criteria certainly matter (insights and coaching are two of the most compelling in 2023), the three pillars above proved to be where vendors “declared their major.” Every vendor in this evaluation is working to build a comprehensive offering spanning these foundational pillars, but not all have made it there yet.

It’s A Specialty Vendor’s Game

One requirement for participating in this Wave was ecosystem openness — meaning the vendor must sell a standalone CICS solution independent of interaction channels or workforce optimization (WFO) solutions. While it’s certainly true that today’s CCaaS platforms (and other interaction solutions) have many of the capabilities we evaluated in this Wave, many fail to meet the level of analytics sophistication of these CICS specialists. Not to mention, very few companies rely solely on one platform for all their customer interaction needs these days, necessitating a specialized conversational insights solution. Helping clients find a CICS platform that will gather insights from conversations across their various platforms and interaction channels — including feedback sources such as surveys and reviews — is one of my most common guidance-session topics.

Bottom Line: This Ain’t Your Grandpappy’s Speech Analytics

CICS vendors have dedicated years to developing practical applications for conversation analytics that help buyers drive business improvements both within and beyond the contact center. CX teams augment their feedback programs to reduce reliance on surveys; marketing teams capture in-call outcomes to drive campaign optimization; and digital teams identify opportunities for improved web journeys. Even within the contact center, we’re seeing a noticeable shift away from ops metrics as acceptable coaching fodder: “Hey you, improve your FCR!” is not actionable guidance.

Which CICS Vendor Is Right For Me?

Be sure to download the full Wave scorecard (the XLSM attachment on the right of the page) to dig into the evaluative scores and scales. You’re able to customize weightings based on your own evaluative needs (e.g., if you don’t care about screen recording, drop the weighting down), allowing you to see how each vendor scored in the criteria most important to you.

But as always, I am here to help! Forrester clients looking for some guidance as they evaluate CICS solutions can book a guidance session with me. We’ll sort you out.