AI and Automation in Contact Centers

AI and Automation Change the Game

Artificial intelligence scares most people in the support center industry. We understand the fear as many wonder if it will take over the human element that has traditionally been needed to implement exceptional customer service.

But what if we told you that AI isn’t to be feared, but utilized.

Automation has been slowly creeping its way into our everyday lives, sometimes in ways that we do not even realize. Checking into a hotel or even ordering your food at a restaurant has become all but totally computerized. You even see people skipping lines at the airport to use kiosks or using their phones as tickets.

Experts have predicted that by next year, 85% of all interactions a customer has will be without the assistance of a human agent. This is where people begin to get nervous about automation. But that shouldn’t be the case.

Complex queries and processes are now passed to human agents that no longer need to spend their time with mundane tasks that can be easily handled by automated systems. These systems can be used to assist human agents in locating necessary information that they can then use to bring an even more personalized, swift and empathetic experience to the customer.

Systems such as virtual assistants are just what they sound like: assistants. They are implemented to assist the agent in helping the customer quicker and more accurately. These virtual assistants can help answer inquiries on the front end while your human agents utilize that information on the back end for a better overall experience if they are ever to get involved.

AI and automation also show your consumers and even investors that you’re forward thinking. The statistics predicting the use of automation aren’t something to scoff at. People undoubtedly need a human touch when it comes to customer service, but they also need speed and efficiency. One cannot be without the other.

So let’s dive in. Here are the ways in which AI and automation will reshape the way you see your support center in the future.

Swift action

The painful truth about automation is that it’s just faster. There is a level of speed and responsiveness that automation brings that just isn’t possible with a human agent. Not only that, but AI has allowed virtual assistants or just queries in general the ability to learn the behaviors of customers — predicting their purchase habits and offering them similar products or services.

This ability to learn customer habits, wants and needs arms a human agent with valuable information. It makes the conversation much quicker because there is no back and forth about what was previously handled by a virtual assistant. Plus, customers will be able to receive answers or information they are seeking before even having to ask.

Not only is this a helpful little feature, but AI and automation can monitor for problems that customers may be facing and offer solutions or FAQ’s in real time. This real time aspect is also able to benefit the data and information agents have at their disposal when helping a customer.

Quick fixes often mean good customer service in the eyes of the consumer. Common or FAQ inquiries can be swiftly handled by virtual assistants. This frees up more time than ever before.  

This is important especially during the purchase process. Purchase abandonment is a huge process and AI offers some unique solutions.

It’s always on

One of the best parts of automation is the fact that it runs 24/7, 365 days a year (if you pay your subscription on time).

Customers are able to get real time responses any time of the day. In this truly digital and speed oriented landscape we’ve found ourselves in, waiting days for a response to an issue is a deal breaker for must customers. The standard of customer service has shifted and 24 hour support has become a norm.

It also combats time zone issues that outsourced call centers may have. Many businesses use companies overseas to handle their support services, and while they are cost efficient they run into a time zone issue.

Messaging services are in

Social media went from sharing cat videos and pictures of your kids to a full blown customer service platform. When exactly that happened, we’re not sure. But we know that it did and we know that you should be utilizing it.

Customers use these platforms to share complaints or praise with brands every day. These interactions seem minuscule but they hold immense weight. Sure, it seems strange that a customer would get the wrong sandwich and take it to Twitter…but that’s where the customer feels most comfortable — and it’s your duty when implementing a robust customer experience to meet them where they’re at.

So how does AI and automation tie in? Well, chatbots exist on these platforms…especially Facebook. There are over 100,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger right now.

Save on training costs

The best part about automation or AI software is that it learns as it goes, but you don’t have to spend on the training. So in reality, you only have to train it “once.”

This is in contrast to spending endless amounts on training new employees on tasks and processes that could easily be handled by automated systems.

Moreover, agents that are equipped with tools that help them do their jobs more effectively and with less headaches are less likely to jump ship — decreasing turnover.

Unbiased and reliable

We’re not saying that your agents aren’t reliable, but rather that automated virtual assistants and systems innately work at the same pace, at all times. They don’t show up to work late or call in sick.

They also don’t have biases or prejudices that could jeopardize a customer interaction. This is especially true during initial inquiries and troubleshooting where patience may run thin with a human agent. Automated processes allow human agents the freedom to work on more creative problem solving tasks.

Customers want self-service

Something strange happened with the millennial generation. They prefer to understand the problem and fix it themselves. This is a seemingly small change in a customer’s mentality, but it’s an important one.

According to this recent study, 72% of millennials don’t think a phone call is the best way to solve a customer service problem. Instead, they look to forums and FAQ’s to figure out how to resolve the issue themselves. They also turn to chatbots as their self-reliant tendencies point them toward never having to contact a customer service agent at all.

Personalized customer journey

We all know the value of data in the customer support arena. Data powers decisions and creates goals to strive for.

The combination of big data and the analytics collected by AI and automated services provides agents with a level of information that was previously unimaginable. This information is what will allow your agents to offer extremely personalized support in each and every customer interaction. This means that throughout every step of the customer journey, the customer is receiving quick customized solutions.

Individualized support like this will improve customer satisfaction, drive purchases, create advocates, and promote loyalty amongst your consumer base.

Final word

AI and automation is an extremely valuable tool that will not only help your agents but your company as a whole. These systems are highly customizable and able to work within your organizations needs. The ability to collect data at such an alarming rate will also provide context for growth and arm your agents with the necessary information to satisfy your customers.

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