4 ways how Artificial Intelligence can help contact centers serve customers better

By | November 1, 2021

No matter how big or small your contact center is, it could use some Artificial intelligence to deliver better customer experiences. Here are some ways how AI can help.

Customer service is a human-centric function. There is no doubt about it. But, when call density spikes and there are only so many calls and tickets that your contact center team can handle, you need the extra muscle of Artificial Intelligence. It will help your contact center to sustain and even deliver better customer experiences that every business would be proud of.

Today, customer service is an increasingly significant factor in consumer choice, with 90% of individuals surveyed by Microsoft saying that customer service is either ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ in their choice of a brand. Also, the pandemic has also increased customer expectations to new levels. They expect omnichannel customer support by default, want real-time resolutions, demand personalized offerings, and whatnot. As a critical component of the overall, It is your contact center’s responsibility to find new ways to enhance the customer experience.

Enter artificial intelligence (AI). Able to improve customer interactions through Agent Assist, natural language processing, and machine learning (ML) analytics, contact center AI might be just the tool to supercharge your customer experience, improve customer loyalty, and also reduce customer churn. In call centers, it will also help reduce agent fatigue and ultimately help improve agent productivity.

In this blog post, we’re going to some ways how the power of AI can be used to benefit your contact center.

What does artificial intelligence in a contact center really mean for your business?

While you might be imagining chrome-plated automatons answering calls and tapping away at keyboards, the reality is a little closer to what we’re already used to. Nope. Bicentennial man is also not how contact center AI would look like.

 

Instead, it would take the form of software hidden from plain eyes but that which will empower contact center agents to deliver extraordinary results. They will take the form of feature additions to your contact center software.

Most modern companies use cloud communication operated via computer for their contact center operations. It allows agents to easily respond to customers via phone, instant messaging, social media, and email. These platforms make switching between different channels seamless and provide a single storage location for your business’s customer relationship management (CRM) tools and data.

Contact centers can operate far more efficiently, flexibly, and affordably using these systems than is possible with traditional on-premise landline Private Branch Exchange (PBX) telephone networks, which is why they’ve become the go-to option for so many businesses.

Imagine these systems getting a dose of Artificial intelligence? AI can maximize and augment contact centers with tools such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and voice bots that take care of tasks otherwise performed by agents. Parallelly, there are other offerings like speech analytics and call transcription technologies that increase the effectiveness of your human agents.

5 ways how AI can help in a contact center

Incorporating AI into your customer service setup dos not mean a rip-and-replace of all manual processes. On the contrary, it is finding areas for improvements and optimizations. It usually begins with identifying functions or processes that are repetitive in nature and also consume a lot of time for human agents. AI can automate these processes and even take care of a chunk of the typical customer service workload, saving your agents time and reducing your overheads.

Let’s explore some of the features of AI systems today, and how they can help improve the running of your contact center operations:

  1. Automating quick resolutions with self-service bots
  2. Managing call density with IVR menus
  3. Maximizing issue resolutions with intelligent call routing
  4. Understanding caller sentiments using speech analytics

1. Automating quick resolutions with self-service bots

From grocery stores to online shopping, customers are becoming increasingly independent in making purchase decisions. They are also becoming increasingly aware of solving problems on their own by finding support articles, searching online, or joining user communities. Studies show that an incredible 86% of consumers expect online self-service options as part of their shopping experience.

Self-service bots play into that digital transformation, helping shoppers get their questions answered promptly and precisely, and saving your agents’ time. Thanks to AI technology, self-service bots are becoming more advanced by the day, even in the telephony space. There are voice bots that can listen to the caller’s voice input and find the right resource or solution.

 

These voice bots can also be programmed to transfer a conversation to a human agent in specific scenarios when human intervention is necessary. A basic use case of this is voice-based IVR input that can spare customers from the need to give dial-pad-based input.

2. Managing call density with IVR menus

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have now been applied in so many use cases across customer service that it’s almost become strange when you don’t find one on a helpline. IVR is the technology that allows callers to interact with an automated phone system by using their voice, as explained earlier, or through keypresses on the dial pad.

It’s a great example of how computer technology can help improve your customer service: by scanning the caller’s voice and directing them through the appropriate menus, to a help article, or to the live agent most able to solve their problem.

The technology saves a lot of time and takes a repetitive task off your representatives’ shoulders. AI has made understanding natural speech input far more intelligent, allowing for a relatively free-flowing conversation featuring open-ended questions, all while efficiently moving the customer’s concern towards resolution.

 

3. Maximizing issue resolutions with intelligent call routing

Long gone are the days of switchboard operators manually connecting calls to extensions using physical cables. But a surprising number of businesses still rely on human agents to direct calls to the most relevant department or service agent. For a contact center dealing with high call volumes, that’s simply not an option.

While you may be familiar with preprogrammed “Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Customer Service…” answerphone systems, AI technology takes this to the next level. The software can now be used to automatically triage calls and prioritize them based on the callers’ call histories, records of the problems they’re looking to have resolved, or even based on speech pattern analysis. In fact, custom call flows can also be set up based on the time of the call, country/region from where it is coming, holiday-specific call routing, etc.

The system is programmed to identify the caller and their reason for calling as fast as possible, before routing them accordingly. It does this by comparing:

  • Caller data
    This might include a pre-coded priority level or information on their previous communications
  • Agent data
    This might include skills-related data, their current availability, and training imparted for specific call scenarios.

The AI system will compare this data, alongside the caller’s current wait time, and decide whether it’s best to transfer them to an available agent or to keep them on hold until a more suitable representative becomes free.

4. Understanding caller sentiments using speech analytics

Some of the most significant recent advances with AI in contact centers come in the form of natural language understanding and the conversational experiences it can provide. Programs can interpret the spoken word and make assessments based on that input, providing clear answers or taking predefined actions. As we’ve already seen, this technology powers IVR systems that can have complex, intelligent conversations, helping to create smoother and speedier customer interactions.

But it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to machine learning, AI solutions can study patterns in the interactions your agents are regularly having with callers, and learn to answer those common questions all by themselves.

That doesn’t just mean the system picking up on keywords and identifying trends: the technology is also able to analyze the tone, vocabulary, speech rhythm, and inflection of a caller. That allows the software to come to a conclusion about their emotional state, and assess the level of satisfaction achieved for the customer. Of course, the accuracy of this is not 100% right now and is something that is getting better by the day.

When fed back into predictive models, that data then helps identify the best ways of handling specific calls, which can be supplied to agents in real-time when they find themselves in a similar situation. In an IVR context, the AI software can learn to escalate calls more rapidly when certain emotional triggers are detected in the caller’s speech patterns.

The scope of speech analytics is simply staggering, and with it, you can increase the effectiveness and productivity of your customer service systems – both human and otherwise.

Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman

________________________________________________________________________________

About Freshdesk Contact Center

Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller) is a modern-day contact center that enables businesses to augment their telephony operations with Artificial Intelligence. It can empower your customer support and sales teams to drive effortless customer interactions with the power of AI.

With its cloud-based architecture, Freshdesk Contact Center brings together the best of legacy features like IVR, call waiting, VoIP solutions, and advanced call routing capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting.

Visit our website for more information.

The post 4 ways how Artificial Intelligence can help contact centers serve customers better appeared first on Freshcaller Blog.