By Ravi Saraogi
Customer experience (CX) has become the top strategic priority for businesses worldwide. Online self-service has become a necessity for businesses to adapt to the increasingly digitised landscape. Contact centres are more valued than ever as they have become a critical CX driver. In Malaysia, up to 34 per cent of customers have cited that they will trust a brand more if they provide exceptional customer services. To leverage this touchpoint, businesses need to deliver strategies that will improve agent performance and productivity. After all, CX goes hand in hand with agent experience.
The impact of the right strategy
An over-reliance on legacy systems can result in an industry plagued by high attrition rates. Contact centre agents require the right set of tools to deliver on quality CX, which is where artificial intelligence (AI) and automation come in. When adopted strategically, technology can cut down on call waiting times, reduce margins, and free up agents to focus on what people do best – delivering a more engaging experience for customers.
Since the start of the pandemic, organisations across industries such as telecommunications, retail, banking, and more have been looking to AI and automation as a means of improving CX, boosting efficiency, and reducing margins. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 97 million new roles will emerge between now and 2025 that are better suited for a more heavily automated economy.
Driving business growth with AI and automation
Improving agent experience is the key to driving better CX. Despite the increasing cost for talent and training, businesses need a strategy to increase productivity, decrease margins, and build customer trust. Here are five ways how AI and automation can make a difference.
Optimising customer calls through insights obtained from customer conversations
Demographics are changing, and customers want hyper-personalised, tailor-made solutions, with no scripted answers – contrary to how machines work. This is one area where AI and automation can play an important role in coaching contact centre agents. Machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) can identify patterns in customer interactions from calls, emails, and text. It can even conduct real-time conversational analysis to derive actionable insights on customer preferences, intent, and sentiment.
By providing guidance on what the customer wants, technology allows contact centre agents to focus on effective communication and resolve queries quickly and efficiently. Not only does this reduce customer churn and improve agent and customer experience, it will also drive revenue and ultimately increase return on investment (ROI).
Improving agent efficiency by automating after-call work and shorten average handling time
In a contact centre, what happens after the customer interaction is as important as what happens during the interaction, if not more. Standard contact centre after-call work (ACW) tasks include call categorisation, call summarisation, system update, and follow-up action for promises management. A way to improve the experience for agents and customers alike is increasing the efficiency of ACW. This will free the agent from mundane tasks and shortens average call handling times – saving time and money. Overtime, contact centre agents can spend valuable time working on tasks that can drive measurable business value.
One example is the AI-powered platform known as conversational automation. Conversational automation is a category of technology solutions that combines conversational AI, robotic process automation (RPA), and workﬂow automation in a conversation-centric platform. Rather than recording a full transcript, which can be counter-intuitive, AI and NLP sections transcripts into greetings, problem discovery, resolution, and promises made. The call can then be summarised for the agent to verify before the customer relationship management (CRM) system is automatically updated.
Smarter promise management via automation and streamlining of promise fulfilment process
Contact centre calls typically involve promises made by agents, such as issuing a refund or arranging a time for a technician to visit. A cornerstone of building customer trust involves ensuring the accurate, timely, and documented fulfilment of these promises. In fact, according to a Covid-era survey, 42 per cent of consumers in Asia Pacific who have interacted with a contact centre expect some form of post-call follow-up. This can be a monumental task if done manually, given the volume of calls and promises made during each interaction. Rather than having agents split their attention between taking notes and communicating with the customer – which can reduce the quality of the call and result in errors – a robust conversational automation platform can leverage RPA to track promises made during the call and trigger follow-up processes. This reduces errors and frees the agent to focus fully on engaging with the customer.
Delivering personalised customer service with Intelligent virtual assistants
In the age of instant expectation and hyper-personalisation, long call-waiting times and legacy call handling systems are detrimental to effective CX. Across the industry, businesses are relying on modern, omnichannel call routing driven by intelligent virtual assistants (IVA). Powered by AI and NLP, these IVAs provide a conversational self-service interface using human-like voice bots and chatbots. IVAs can also incorporate call optimisation platforms to determine actionable insights on customer needs, sentiment, and intent. This will shorten call-handling times and lower CX costs.
Securing customer privacy and information
Another important trend across the contact centre industry is an increasing focus on transactional security, especially as many agents continue to work remotely. Customers are often asked to provide sensitive personal information during calls, making security a paramount concern for businesses. This is where voiceprint and voice biometrics come in. This technology can identify unique voice patterns, including behavioural and physiological traits, and automatically authenticate them throughout the agent’s shift, helping to prevent fraud and agent identity theft.
The future of modern contact centers
As business or CX leaders, we need to ensure that we are implementing the right tools and technologies to help our contact centre agents connect with evolving customer needs. As Nate Brown, chief experience officer at Officium Labs mentioned on Conversations That Matters, a podcast for contact centre professionals, “AI and automation not only make the customer service environment so much more effective, it also makes the entire organisation so much better and easier to interface with.” Customers will be able to enjoy a personalised experience and communicate with businesses according to their communication preferences, enriching the customer and agent experience.
About the author: Ravi Saraogi is the Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.
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