AI Can Save The Contact Center

To start with we have to ask whether or not the contact center needs saving.

Is the contact center dying and in need of revitalising treatment to the business model? Reports by Market and Markets show that some of the major components of the contact center solution (Call Center Interactive Voice Response [IVR] and Market Contact Center Analytics Market) are both on track for significant growth over the next several years.

  • The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) market is expected to reach USD 5.54 Billion by 2023 from USD 3.44 Billion in 2016. A 61% increase in 7 years
  • The overall contact center analytics market is expected to grow from USD 709.5 million in 2017 to USD 1,483.6 million by 2022. 109.1% increase in 5 years

This would indicate that the contact center is not just healthy but growing significantly. As the customer experience solidifies itself as the differentiating factor across industries, the contact centers grows increasingly important. The contact center is ground zero for customer service and communication at the most essential pain points in the customer journey. As contact centers move towards NPS and satisfaction scores in measuring performance, and as technology continues to evolve, it’s natural that contact centers would evolve as well.

The contact center as we know it, then, is far from dead. But it is sitting in a critical spot with huge opportunity for improvement and optimization, and companies that don’t join the revolution could very well find themselves left behind.

AI Can Increase Staff Retention

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the capacity to augment the contact center wherever the voice channel exists. By pushing customers through a funnel, calls are only being answered by agents when those cases require more human interaction and escalation. That directly results in staffing retention and continuity. Contact centers have adopted omnichannel capability to enable interaction through a range of channels including text, email, instant messaging, and automated text bots within a browser. This enables flexibility and drives engagement.

Contact centers used to be very different places and agents were represented like battery hens with a headset: crammed into an office floor and rated on the number of calls they could answer in a day. Job satisfaction was minimal. Today, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as organisations are investing huge amounts of time and money into increasing the engagement and retention of their agents . The increased focus on the customer experience translates directly into a focus on the employee experience; happy agents are much better at creating happy customers. AI can play a significant role in the day-to-day experience for an agent and ultimately decrease agent turnover.

What are the AI channel advancements that enable the contact center to identify key areas in their workflow and how best to support the customer?

Deflection – This is a key target for the contact center. Agents are highly trained and want to feel that their contribution is making a real difference. Effective output analysis of customer-agent engagements generated through AI tools can identify trends and patterns of frequent request and best practices to solve them. With the deployment of new automated services like synthetic agents or online portals, callers can then self-serve and feel empowered to resolve their own issues—a direct response to AI initiatives. Self-service subsequently reduces the load on agents.

Agent assist – Provides real-time information to agents to ensure they have the best and most unified information to advise the caller.

Gamification – AI services can play a part in the gamification of agent dashboards with real-time analysis of calls, delivering awards to agents when they hit specific milestones or targets.

Automated workflow – Workflows can be triggered off the back of an utterance. For example, words like ‘upgrade’ or ‘cancellation’ can stimulate the next phase of action for the agent without them having to do it themselves.

AI Can Identify Key Red Flags and Escalate a Call to a Supervisor

Customer service is paramount and one of the key elements for this is ensuring that calls are answered by agents that are actually able to resolve customer issues. Refined FAQ’s, self-service portals, and synthetic agents help in this regard as agents are more available and have more bandwidth to react to high demand.

In a challenging situation, immediate access to the information an agent needs greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. AI can be used through the recognition of both the theme of the call and the identification of specific words within it. Recognition of these elements can instantly prime the agents and educate them to provide the best information possible.

The ability to discern the sentiment and mood of the caller through the acoustics of their voice can aid the agent’s next actions. Contact centers can be enabled to leverage the language and acoustic models within advanced ASR solutions to route callers to specially trained agents.

Analysis of words and acoustics in real-time or for pre-recorded audio also enables the delivery of better compliance risk management. Advanced automatic speech recognition (ASR) solutions can better catch potential breaks in legislative compliance, especially in financial contact centers. The automation and utilization of AI solutions enables the contact center to monitor far more calls than traditional human QA teams. By utilizing AI, contact centers can leave the data gathering to automated tools, freeing up the highly trained QA teams to triage the generated data for maximum value.

AI Can Provide In-depth Analysis of Calls Through Audio Transcription

Artificial intelligence offers a huge range of value, especially for contact centers. Analytics provide the key to the development of more intuitive solutions using the data captured from calls, interactions and text. The data helps an agent understand not only the voice of the customer but also the age of their voice. The discovery of trends, themes, key words, and processes can inform how to make positive changes to deliver on key targets.

Accurate transcription in real-time means that interaction history can be captured, so agents can see exactly what was said. This can make a huge difference to the timeline of caller issues.With the deployment of ASR into a call center, calls can be captured and dealt with in real-time providing an easily searchable transcript when it comes to the clarification on the conversation.

So, can AI save the contact center? These days the contact center is a hive of innovation. AI makes the promise of advanced features, capability, insight, and engagement, all while reducing cost and optimising efficiencies.

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Alex Fleming Product Marketing Manager

Speechmatics

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