There’s much debate—as well as fear, uncertainty and doubt—around the impact artificial intelligence and automation will have on the future workforce. Will robots replace humans in the contact center and other parts of the company? The answer is simple: No Way!
Cool technology is no substitute for empathy, understanding, and the human connection that only people can provide, especially during times of need. To that end, customer service automation—in the contact center and beyond—should be viewed as an enabler of customers and agents, ultimately making their lives better.
Today, automation can effectively offload manual and repetitive tasks for contact center agents, lowering the average handle time (AHT) for interactions. In some cases, automation can complete end-to-end customer processes, such as an insurance policy renewal, without an agent, leaving them to focus on high-value or more “rewarding” customer interactions. Automation also assists agents with after-call work, updating customer records, and ensuring the right compliance checks, reducing the time it takes to handle customer service interactions.
Indeed, most companies look at the benefit of contact center automation in terms of improving agent productivity and reducing costs, and these are indeed benefits. However, automation’s bigger business benefits may lie in the technology’s ability to improve the experience for agents, resulting in higher job satisfaction, better morale and increased longevity in their position.
In the contact center, this means freeing up time for your agents to focus on more important or valuable interactions that only a human can solve. Or those that require listening and the empathy that automation cannot provide. As a result, the work your contact center agents do is more engaging, more fulfilling, and more rewarding. For example, an agent can spend up to 1 minute or more completing ‘after call work’ following every customer interaction, which typically involves updating customer records in the company’s apps and systems. Over the course of a shift, these moments in time can add up to a significant portion of an agent’s day. In fact, with some agents handling 10 or more interactions per hour, the time spent completing manual tasks really adds up, while agent satisfaction and engagement can unfortunately go down.
Now, let’s look at some things agents could be working on if we could give them all that time back by removing manual contact center tasks. Instead of searching for the right answers in multiple systems, automation can provide suggested answers to questions and next best actions directly in the agent desktop. In this case, intelligent process automation not only helps the agent to be more knowledgeable and more responsive, but they can use the extra time saved to more personally engage with customers. This can include seeking customer feedback or making a timely offer that can lead to new business. In the end, the agent spends more time on customer engagement and higher value interactions and less time doing repetitive and manual tasks.
Other automation examples can be found in common transactional processes that virtually all companies carry out, such as product returns. For a process that often includes several customer questions and the need for clarity on company return policies and procedures, automation can provide a way for agents to more quickly complete these critical interactions in a way that best serves both the customer and the company. By providing answers to basic questions in self-service using conversational AI and automation, while assisting agents with suggested answers and automating after call work, such as customer email confirmations and case management updates, you can reduce the time it takes your agents to complete the returns process by up to 50 percent.
Are you ready to explore all the benefits of contact center automation? To be successful, make sure you look beyond the customer and business benefits to include all the ways the technology can benefit your agents and workforce.