Artificial intelligence, a.k.a AI has become a buzzword, sometimes cynically appended in the market to make something feel sufficiently advanced and digital. Yet true AI is already advanced technology and can achieve impressive results, and so it can be tough to pick the AI truths from the exaggerations.
Of course, it’s fair to ask: how can AI unlock value for call centers? Is it even a thing? How would you know what value to expect from it? And how is it any better than an actual human?
In the broadest level, we can all agree that customer demands have increased significantly and across a multitude of channels, a challenge that has outgrown any standard helpdesk frameworks; many customer service-facing enterprise roles are overloaded with requests – some simple, some very complex – and the volume has exploded with the advent of social media and other communication channels.
In tandem with this, a culmination of improved business science concludes that customer behavior should feed into business strategy. Marketing and product development, creating more efficient processes, and differentiating yourself from competitors – these are all questions answered by knowing more about your customer.
Helpdesks and call centers are at the heart of this change. But to manage such new expectations, they need help. Your agents and team managers need the best tools for the job, whether they share a location or all work remotely. And the best tool, no exaggeration, is AI.
Say Hello! to augmented intelligence
In this instance, AI stands for augmented intelligence, the combination of human and artificial intelligence. It’s a common reaction for humans to feel threatened by artificial intelligence, in the sense that the intelligence is trying in some way to outthink or replace them. This narrative soon pops up among call center staff: are you trying to replace me with a robot?
We know that’s not the case, and that in reality, we’re just trying to optimize the response to customers, and to help them understand that they are cared for; people who work with customers know a machine can’t do their jobs!
Instead, Artificial Intelligence can help create augmented intelligence: the combined efforts of a human and Artificial Intelligence supporting them. Chess grandmaster and legend Gary Kasparov, the first person to lose this game against an AI, is a prominent evangelist for the concept. That’s because machines make fewer mistakes than humans, can handle bigger data sets, and can be taught to give consistent responses to a common group of issues. Humans bring the intuition, empathy, and creativity, things an AI cannot – in fact, Kasparov is convinced that AI will enhance humans – in his words, “promote” us.
As it evolves and becomes more advanced, Artificial intelligence now routinely outperforms humans at a variety of tasks. But no AI has yet managed to beat a human-AI combination. A person empowered with the insight and powerful output of an AI is unbeatable, and this applies most readily to the customer service environment as in a call center.
So, a call center infused with Artificial Intelligence capabilities, is in part, an augmented intelligence experience between customer agent professionals and accompanying AIs. Now, let’s take a more detailed look at how AI boosts the performance of agents.
Automating the way to customer excellence
With Artificial Intelligence by its side, call centers can operate on another level. It can introduce automation into common tasks, which relieves agents of the burden of repetition and frees them to exercise their more creative problem-solving side.
Digital automation takes this to the next level, automating many different types of simple and complex processes in a workflow or juggling various circumstances and choices. If there is a repetitive or rule-based digital process, it can be automated and save agents a lot of time and help them refocus their energy on more valuable tasks, such as one-on-one interactions with customers experiencing novel challenges.
One example of this is voice IVR. using automation to scan the users’ voice and direct them to appropriate IVR menus, to a knowledgebase article, or to the agent itself for a quick resolution. These are not intensive AI tasks, but they will save your agents a lot of time and routine brainwork.
How AI can help unlock value for a call center
Human-AI partnerships, through augmented intelligence and smart automation, create an AI-powered call center. These components make it clearer to see what potential value you can gain from such an investment. Let’s drill down to a few specific value propositions:
- Use predictive analysis to create contextual and personalized experiences based on past interactions and other customer data insights.
- Help educate customers by directing them to relevant product-knowledge and guiding them to answers on-the-fly, thus opening up agent time.
- Use sentiment analysis and customer journey mapping to identify customer frustrations and help reduce churn.
- Increase onboarding speeds, both of customers and new employees, through automated capturing processes or interactive assistance for new recruits.
- Use advanced analytics to explore customer data, as well as agent and team performance.
All of these aspects and others take on extra significance when you factor in a pandemic situation. AI-supported agents can be much more effective, helping retain customers, and do so remotely.
At the same time, those managing call center teams have a single view of operations. Team managers can use the same analytical and automated process potentials for better oversight and enablement. In today’s remote-work environments, such tools go the extra mile to ensure productivity and engaged agents. But they are as useful when improving any call center environment.
The AI-first help desk emerged over several years, gaining momentum with the digital tide. It offers incredible value through better human capital and operational efficiencies, delivered through accessible and cost-effective platform services. That is how you should measure its impact, and how artificial intelligence can unlock value for call centers.
Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman
Freshcaller is a modern-day cloud phone system for customer support, sales, and remote working teams. With its cloud-based architecture, Freshcaller brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced call routing capabilities like Smart Escalations, Customizable Performance Reporting to help you set up state-of-the-art phone operations. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
Visit the Freshcaller web page for more information.
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