“Robots are not going to replace humans, they are going to make their jobs much more humane. Difficult, demeaning, demanding, dangerous and dull- these are the jobs robots will be taking”
~Sabine Hauert (Co-founder of Robohub.org)
The impact of artificial intelligence in a contact center has certainly improved productivity and drawn attention from stakeholders. But how does it deliver a better customer experience? Let us understand the concept of contact center as a whole.
1. What is a Contact Center?
2. How does a contact center help improve CX?
3. What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
4. Origination of AI.
5. Why is AI important?
6. Artificial Intelligence in contact centers
7. How Artificial Intelligence can enhance customer experience in a contact center?
8. How AI powered ACD takes customer experience to the next level?
9. Sentiment Analysis
10. Insightful analysis
11. Future of AI in a contact center
A contact center is a platform which supports customer interaction across a number of channels viz. Phone calls, Email, Webchat, SMS and social media interactions. It is different from telephony based call centers. Key ingredients of contact center solutions are Automatic Call Distribution, Computer-Telephony Integration, Interactive Voice Response and Outbound Dialers alongwith non-voice channels and CRMs. A contact center is the central part of any customer service organisation/department from where clients are managed. The main goal of a contact center is to help customers resolve their issues and keep them happy.
Companies are well aware of the growing importance of customer experience (CX) as a unique selling proposition (USP), many rely on contact center models which can provide better client-agent interaction. It deals with clients directly. On one side there is the customer and the other side the agent, that’s why agents are being considered as the representative of the organization. Making sure of customer satisfaction at the end of the day is not an easy task. Humans are highly unpredictable, thus each interaction is unique.
1. Less waiting time to reach agents:
No one likes to wait or to be kept on hold while reaching a customer service team. It infuriates customers, especially when they are reaching out because of some issues. Customers believe a contact center is a one stop solution for their queries/issues. They do not see organization as different sections but to them it is a single monolithic structure. While it is almost impossible to eliminate waiting time, it can be reduced through different contact center solutions.
2. Efficient call flow management :
With the help of proper contact center software, call forwarding is possible to the right agent and provide the right solution within a defined time frame which in turn helps customer satisfaction.
3. CEM ( Customer Experience management ) :
It is a set of tools which helps in monitoring customer interaction data. With the help of CEM integration, companies can understand the needs of customers, their issues, frequency of issues and best way to resolve them.While contact centers have been in the forefront to create better customer experience using the traditional approach, Artificial Intelligence is aiding the contact centers to achieve more.
It is a technology which enables the software to carry out tasks that can be considered as ‘smart’. It focuses on developing computers which can mimic human intelligence such as recognition of speech, plan, make predictions, solve problems etc. machine learning(ML) is a branch of AI based on the idea that systems can learn from available data, understand the pattern and make decisions without human intervention.
Since the first century BCE, humans have been intrigued at the possibility of creating machines that can mimic the human brain. The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was initiated by John McCarthy in 1956 when he organized a conference based on machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics etc.It gave a completely new field of study widely known as data science.
In today’s world, the amount of data that is generated by machines as well as by humans is far beyond human’s ability to absorb, interpret, analyze and make complex decisions; whereas, computers are extremely efficient while calculating large data and to arrive at the best decision.
We need AI because work is increasing day by day and most of the time it's repetitive work which is increasingly wasting time and energy. So it is a good idea to automate routine work. It will save manpower of the organisation and the time/energy that is being consumed during repetitive work which will increase productivity. Additionally, companies can have more skilled workers for overall development. Due to the development of data science, automation has become very common. All the regular and routine tasks are mechanised. This is very much evident when we visit a company’s website chat portal, welcome messages are being used much before the actual conversation starts.
Application of AI in contact centers are new and evolving. Though the study shows that AI will not replace humans in contact centers as people are needed for great customer experience no matter how far technology advances, it can help in reducing the operational cost, personalize the customer experience, increase agent efficiency and provide many actionable insights.
A Contact center receives a large volume of calls each day and most conversations go without being stored or analyzed, what a waste of data! The conversation carries valuable information which can help improve business practices and increase Customer satisfaction score (CSAT).
With the help of AI, all the information that has been received through calls or chats can be tapped to retrieve the insights of the conversations. Tools such as speech-to-text transcription, keyword spotting, caller intent queries etc can help to develop predictive insights into the voice of the customer.
It is a pre-recorded voice message that is being sent to a large number of customers to inform customers of such updates or alerts. However, customers would be anxious to speak to a live agent if the call alert is regarding a flight cancellation or a sudden charge to their credit card. With a Conversational AI powered voicebot, the customer can interact and get into a full length discussion without waiting in a call queue and pressing different IVR options. Still the customer wants to reach out to a live agent? Live agent handoff can be done by the voicebot and it can also provide the context to the live agent so that she can continue from where the voicebot has left.
With the power of AI and smart integration with CRM systems, customer experience can be enhanced significantly compared to the existing way of standard callblast campaigns.
According to Gartner, 70% of organisations will integrate AI to assist employee productivity by 2021. Can chatbot and humans work hand in hand and blend into a service journey to enhance customer satisfaction? The challenge is to get the balance and strategy right. The chatbot is not merely a robot, it is a machine that can perform various tasks on behalf of an agent such as a business chatbot greets customers, collects background information and solves issues when they are simple. But for more complicated issues, agent intervention is crucial. It is a communication technology that improves customer engagement, increases productivity and automates processes for greater return.
An automated call distributor is a tool that primarily routes incoming calls to the contact center agents with specific skills. It is commonly used in contact centers which handle large volumes of calls. While its original aim was to route incoming calls, it became more sophisticated with omni-channel routing engines which are capable of routing customer queries that are being received via email, messaging, web chat, social media and other digital channels.
How does ACD route?
It is a skill based routing engine that works on digital and voice interaction. It matches customer requests with agents based on skills, customer sentiment, real time data analysis and AI powered behavioral profiles. It ensures every routing is done with the best available agent in the least possible time.
Following are the list of tools that will enhance the customer experience:
Intelligent call routing
The ACD routes call to the most suitable agent available based on several parameters like the region or language from where the caller is calling, the product/service for which the call is and agent score. For example, if the customer is from a specific region and prefers to speak in regional language/dialect, the call is routed to the agent who can speak in the regional language without asking Press 1 for English etc. ACD works in tandem to deliver smooth routing which enhances customer satisfaction
Fast response time
We all have experienced long waiting times to get in touch with customer support. This is because agents are busy with some other customers. In addition to that, even if you connect with an agent, he/she may refer you to connect with a different agent or department. Bouncing from one agent to another is not just frustrating, it also gives a bad impression of the organization. This is where AI powered ACD comes to the rescue. It ensures that the calls are transferred to the right agent and get an immediate response.
Better brand reputation
When customers don't have to wait to connect to an agent, neither their calls get transferred from one extension to another, when their queries are solved quickly and effectively, you get happy customers at the other end. These satisfied customers then work as your brand ambassadors who can vouch for a good experience with your brand/services. Gaining loyal customers will boost brand reputation.
In a high paced contact center with regular attrition it becomes very difficult to impart proper training. To ensure that the agents are well equipped with the next best action, Agent assist can guide them and suggest the appropriate response. Identify the customers past interactions, level of satisfaction and LifeTime Value, brands can promote loyalty points or some offer which the Agent Assist can suggest to the Live agent. So, agent assist can not only help the agent to quickly resolve the issues but also provide certain help which may delight the customers.
Sentiment analysis is a form of text analysis which measures the attitude of customers towards the product or services.
It is carried out by taking a piece of text, a sentence, a comment or an entire document to measure how positive or negative the sample is.
In today’s world, we are struggling with data overload, mountains of customer feedback might have been collected, and for humans it’s impossible to analyze manually without any bias or errors. Sentiment analysis provides answers to most important issues because it is automated and decisions are made based on a significant amount of data rather than intuition which is not always right.
Let us imagine a scenario where you are the owner of a small contact center and you receive 30-40 responses on mail over a month. It is very much possible that you read, analyze responses on your own. Now imagine that you are receiving 60,000 responses per month i.e, 2000 responses/day. Needless to say that it’s impossible to read and analyze data by yourself. Moreover, there is a possibility of biasness. Knowing the customer sentiments is equally important as resolving their issues.
Artificial intelligence can elevate analysis and provide more information to brands to act upon. Contact centers can use speech analytics to analyze post-call recordings to locate voice inflection that may go above a specific threshold level and help understand when and why a customer got angry and there is a possibility of churn. Speech analytics can also be used on a real time basis, on tones and inflections to get an idea where intervention from a higher skilled person is needed to handle an angry/frustrated customer. Also with hotword spotting the AI powered contact center can send instant alerts to the supervisor so that he/she can observe the call flow and can either whisper or barge-in the call and pacify the customer. This should be more extensively used in contact centers around the globe to work on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
AI has tremendous potential when implemented correctly. It is complementary to live agents in the contact center. We call it the digital worker. In the coming years, it will reduce the expenditure of contact centers and improve customer experience. But the human element will always be a requirement as empathy plays a vital role in running a successful contact center.
With further improvement in the field of AI, Smart Contact Centers can predict the expected call, customer churn and likelihood of upsell and cross sell. It will still be resolving customer issues but in a far more intelligent way.
“Customer will want to talk to you if they believe you can solve their problems “
Author Bio: Sumita has long years of experience in various segments of management ranging from contact center to process development with the help of lean Six Sigma methodology. She is an avid reader, occasional writer and extensive traveller across the Globe.