Decades-high inflation and concerns of a recession have business leaders looking for ways to pursue cost-efficient growth in 2023. AI-driven automation can be a solution. Specifically, utilizing AI automation platforms in contact centers can drive down costs and improve customer experiences.
Over the last 20 years or so, efforts have been underway to automate the contact center agent. When someone calls a contact center for help, the last thing they want is the frustration of having to press a bunch of buttons to get to the person they need,
Voice recognition is friendlier and easier to navigate. In fact, available research and customer surveys suggest people don’t mind interacting with AI as long as the system is programmed with more human-like qualities. For example, instead of using an automated phone tree, callers can say, “Pay my bill,” and get routed to the appropriate department. Algorithms route calls to human agents with similar accent patterns based on historical agent-to-caller interaction data.
The same systems that direct callers to the most appropriate person and department also produce reports that provide macro and micro views of operations. Leadership can determine how many calls come in for the same issue, staff more appropriately for peak call traffic, and drill down to better understand why customers need an agent. Tracing the reasons customers call can identify a pain point on their customer journey that, when fixed, reduces the number of calls into a contact center and thus the number of agents needed.
Conversational AI (chatbots) is popular with customers because it allows them to have their questions answered in less time than it would take to call a contact center. Asking chatbots the same questions multiple times can yield different answers, but they can be configured to respond in the same manner to certain questions. This way, certain subsets of customers will receive the same information without needing to call the contact center.
Believe it or not, machines can be programmed to recognize human emotional cues. AI can track how often a caller or an agent raises their voice, for example, giving supervisors valuable feedback to identify training opportunities to improve the customer experience.
At the same time, this kind of machine learning can be used for upselling and cross-selling. When a representative has a conversation about one issue, the AI can be trained to identify certain words and phrases so it can offer ideas for additional products and services. By introducing relevant revenue opportunities into the conversation, brands could substantially increase year-over-year sales.
AI is almost certainly never going to fully replace human agents in contact centers. It simply doesn’t have the ingenuity and creativity of the human brain, but it can be programmed to answer the most common questions with uniform responses.
Perhap the best way to consider AI is more like an interactive virtual assistant. Using systems like voice recognition, chatbots, and responsive AI, agents have the time and energy to tackle more complex issues as well as the ability to establish engaging interactions with callers for an improved customer experience.