Artificial Intelligence and automation are being increasingly adopted in contact centers to deliver self-service options for consumers and to assist human agents. Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) with advanced conversational AI capabilities are now helping customers resolve routine requests during self-service interactions while providing a smooth escalation path to the live agent, who is fully prepared to pick up the conversation where the IVA left off. This AI-powered “digital workforce” can also provide guidance during live interactions, giving human agents the freedom to focus on high-value, revenue generating activities.
Let’s look at four ways a digital workforce can augment operations in your contact center.
Contact centers are targets for fraudsters looking to gain access to legitimate customer accounts. Now more than ever, enhanced user authentication practices and technologies are needed to prevent bad actors from impersonating customers. This is especially true for businesses in heavily regulated industries such as banking, healthcare and government.
IVAs can help organizations reduce risk, enhance security and increase customer trust by leveraging voice biometrics. Voice biometrics technology enables IVAs to authenticate callers’ identities using their unique and highly secure voiceprints. With this technology, customers can verify their identity quickly and easily without needing to remember PIN numbers or go through the tedious process of answering security questions.
In addition to improving security and the customer experience, voice authentication can reduce call handle time and overall operating costs.
Another way IVAs can improve contact center operations is by optimizing call routing. Natural Language Processing (NLP) makes it possible for virtual agents to greet callers with open-ended questions like “How can I help you today?” As customers speak naturally to answer (“I have a question about my bill”), the IVA can understand the caller’s intent and route the call to the correct destination.
This approach improves upon traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems that provide lengthy, directed dialogue menus and require customers to use their keypad to navigate the system. IVRs not only require more customer effort; they are prone to error, resulting in calls needing to be transferred when they arrive at the wrong destination. This can cost you – in transfer fees and in lost business.
IVAs make call steering more accurate, meaning call queues, and conversations with your human agents, will run more smoothly.
In addition to authentication and call steering, IVAs can automate routine service tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions, processing credit card payments, scheduling appointments or checking the status of an order.
When executing a service task, the IVA uses APIs to connect to your back-end systems and retrieve the information it needs to resolve the request. Customers can get what they need quickly, without waiting for a live agent. The entire experience requires less effort, which research has shown can have a major impact on customer loyalty. Additionally, because IVAs can access the intelligence and data they need to solve many requests without human intervention, you can increase your automation rates – and in turn your cost savings.
Of course, not every call can or should be automated. But when calls do need to escalate to live assistance, IVAs can serve as co-pilots for the live interaction. As an IVA gathers and confirms customer information, your system will automatically remember it. By keeping contextual data intact and passing it on as the interaction progresses, live agents have a head start toward taking care of the customer’s needs. Most callers will be relieved if the human who picks up the phone already has a good feel for what’s happening – thanks to the help of the virtual agent.
Additionally, AI-powered Virtual assistants can “listen” during a call, automatically transcribe the interaction, and provide real-time coaching and knowledge base recommendations. Real-time call transcription means agents can spend more time listening so they can give customers the attention they deserve. Virtual assistants help agents quickly locate the information they need and be reminded of relevant cross-sell or upsell opportunities. Agents can also pass a call back to an IVA so that it can process a transaction or collect sensitive information, which improves PCI and HIPAA compliance.
Putting it all Together
Combining the unique skills of live agents and their digital counterparts can supercharge the contact center to better meet the needs of customers and the business. Virtual agents augment the work of human agents by authenticating callers, accurately routing them to the right destination, automating routine tasks through self-service, and co-piloting interactions to a successful resolution.
The future of work in the contact center has arrived. And with benefits like higher automation, cost savings, and improved customer and employee satisfaction, it’s time to embrace the future.