Customer experience and contact centers, in particular, are great starting points to implement artificial intelligence (AI) solutions since they are a large source of customer information, generating enormous quantities of data that is impossible to process manually. Here’s how AI can be used in contact centers:

1)  AI Can Be Used to Predict Customer Intent:-

Your customers may contact you for a multitude of reasons. Some of these reasons are fairly straightforward, others are intricate, yet, rarely are they entirely novel.

With the immense data that you are collecting with every recorded phone call, chat interaction, and email, you have a strategic asset that can be used to train machine learning models to understand customer intent within conversations.

Once you understand true customer motivations, you can then use AI to optimize interactions through:

Flagging interactions for fraud and compliance risk

2) AI Can Help You to Track Customer Effort:-

Customer effort is one of the leading indicators of loyalty. Analyzing customer effort can guide companies in identifying emerging issues before they explode into major issues.

Traditionally, the effort has been quantified through structured questions on a survey. However, AI and machine learning techniques, combined with text analytics, can aid in evaluating the level of effort expressed in any piece of unstructured customer feedback.

AI can do this by interpreting word choice and sentence structure, as you can quickly understand which aspects of the customer experience cause friction in any feedback source – not just in surveys.

3) AI Is Best Implemented With the Support of the Entire Team:-

Before you deploy AI, it is worth considering that one of the biggest risk factors in any IT implementation, system upgrade, or system change is the human users of that system.

By failing to communicate in an open, honest, transparent way how this technology is going to benefit them, you will meet resistance.

If you simply say, we are rolling out this new robotic-led approach on Monday, your employees will inevitably be negative towards the technology and may even actively sabotage it.

Instead, you need to get people involved in the process. Ensure they can test out the technology in a safe environment and make sure they are comfortable with it before you even start rolling the technology out.

4) AI Increases in Value With Good Knowledge Management:-

Any AI application will only ever be a good as the knowledge at its disposal. You need to ensure that when a question is answered in the contact center, that knowledge is captured and delivered into the knowledge management system (KMS), so that customers, bots, and advisors can feed off it.

After all, how can AI be used to make decisions when it does not actually know anything? It can learn but it needs relevant data to do that.

This is why it is so important to have processes and procedures in place that enable you to feed accurate data and intelligence into the KMS.

Many businesses are too reliant on their employees as a source of knowledge and therefore run the risk that if people leave the business, they take the knowledge and understanding that they have gained with them.

5) AI Is Driven by Customer and Employee Data:-

Any strategy that uses AI and machine learning should be considered within a broader customer experience AI strategy that considers how data will be leveraged across both the customer and employee journeys.

There are many opportunities to apply AI and machine learning across the customer engagement process.

For example, knowing the right moment to proactively engage with customers online, routing to the best agent based on the desired business outcome, and assisting them to accurately handle inquiries – AI and machine learning can help drive all of that.

However, AI applies to more than just customer journeys. It can also help identify why specific agents are better than others at certain contact or customer types, increase the speed and accuracy of workforce planning and scheduling and automate task completion post-contact.

SUGGESTED READINGS: Customer Service happens when the experience breaks down – Here’s How?

TOP 6 Reasons to Invest More in Customer Experience

Irrespective of the customer’s location, call centers play an important role in delivering reliable customer experience on a daily basis. Different call centers have their own unique goals that have to be met but at the end of the day it all boils down to providing quality service to the customers. Industry surveys have indicated that despite the surge in self-service technologies, customer service professionals (CSP) are preferred the most when it comes to experiencing quality service.

Customers too are more knowledgeable regarding the products they purchase and hence prefer interacting with CSPs who possess superior language, communication, and problem-solving skills to resolve their issues. A research revealed that more than 50% of the time, customer service agents failed to answer customer queries. It therefore becomes imperative for companies with call centers to constantly work on improving the quality of service to the level that the customers expect from them. A reliable customer care call center service expert can provide you with the necessary support required to set up and run an excellent contact center.

Here are a few strategies that Call Center management can implement in order to improve their performance:

It’s always better to hire the right call center representative when they are young. Prospective candidates must be hired at the very beginning of their professional career and trained to be the best at what they do. During the hiring process, the emotional quotient of the candidate must be gauged as it can have a profound effect on job performance, teamwork and most importantly decision making. They must also be provided with good incentives and benefits considering the high attrition rate of employees that the call center industry witnesses every year.

More often than not, working professionals face scenarios, which they are never trained on how to handle. This can happen due to various reasons such as outdated training methodologies, no contact between trainers and front line managers and so on. The trainees must be taught the craft on the floor with the trainers and front line managers working in tandem. The managers should also take up the role of mentoring the trainees with the ultimate goal of enhancing their performance.

Multi-tasking is critical for any customer service professional to provide efficient customer service. The job requires not only speaking over the phone but also other activities such as data input and using reference materials for answering any customer query, all of this while maintaining sound interpersonal and communication skills. But the process of teaching these aspects must involve an integrated approach. A study conducted by Peppers and Rogers Group has found out that 65% of companies train their agents using effective tools to gain their customer’s trust. Soft skills and technical skills must not be taught separately. The training must be built around the call and how to handle them efficiently to provide the best customer service.

Automating business processes or using software is not what CRM is all about. Basically, it is a culture within the organization which focuses on providing the best customer service by leveraging the resources and having a holistic view of the customer. Customer service agents are immensely benefited by a robust CRM as they are able to access the required information about the history of a customer in real-time to deliver impeccable customer experience during online support calls. A Forrester Research has noted that close to 66% of enterprise organizations have implemented various capabilities of CRM.

Customers with queries, who are already frustrated, hate it when they have to wait for a long time for a qualified CSP to answer their call or resolve their issue. This directly has an effect on customer satisfaction. Most of the customers will just hang up the call after holding the call for less than a minute. For customers who abandon the call when they are requested to wait till the right CSP can resolve their query, an option of call-back must be provided. A Benchmark Portal study suggests, “If the call center’s data indicates that caller satisfaction improves 1 percent for every 2% improvement in first call resolution, the center could expect a 3.5% increase in caller satisfaction”.

Implementing contact center technology has the potential to satisfy customers and help the organization reduce their expenses of retaining old customers and acquiring new ones and become more competitive in the business world. Technologies such as advanced routing, reporting and analytics tool, courtesy call backs, speech recognition, cloud and many more can be used for improving first call resolution rates, reduce costs per call and improve call per agent per hour. According to DMG Consulting, in 2018-2019, contact centers utilizing cloud-based technology will increase by 50%.

Utilizing cloud computing technology in call centers has benefits written all over it. Call centers invest a huge sum of money on solutions, technology and infrastructure to provide flawless customer service and stay ahead of their competitors. Cloud allows organizations to utilize an agile operational expenditure (OPEX) budget to deploy solutions thereby avoiding expenditure on expensive infrastructure. Another advantage of implementing cloud technology is flexibility and scalability. Call centers have to keep evolving in accordance with the ever changing market demand. Cloud makes it easier to add new functionality, as and when it is required, in a cost effective manner.

Finding out who is well suited for the job is one of the challenges every call center faces. The hiring process or the training phase is the ideal time for finding the right person who will fulfill his/her duties without fail.  It happens so often that new recruits expect a stress free work environment but in reality are confronted with customers who are angry, frustrated or upset. Many leave their job as they find it too demanding. This leads to a huge loss for the company as a lot of time and money goes into training a candidate. A case study conducted by Contact Center World has revealed that annual attrition rates in India hovers around 50% whereas in other countries it is even higher. Therefore it becomes necessary to expose candidates to training that is close to real-life scenarios and let go of candidates who are not able to cope up.

Call centers, these days, use multi-channel avenues for interacting with customers. They utilize various tools for carrying out simple as well as complex tasks. Fulfilling these tasks in the most efficient manner is what results in a satisfied customer. Simple tasks can be handed out to less experienced professionals or the customers can be directed to self-help tools for the speedy redressal of their issues. Complex tasks on the other hand can be carried out by qualified professionals. Improving first call resolution rates must be the sole objective. By following this strategy of separating tasks based on complexity, companies can minimize operational costs and make the best use of resources.

After a customer’s query has been cleared, feedback must be prompted either through an email to the customer or through other non-intrusive means. Customers usually tend to vent their anger in social media forums if the customer service representative was unsuccessful in resolving their issue. This too is considered as feedback though it brings a bad name to the company. Implementing change management as an integral part of the organization’s project and program management can bring about positive growth. Change is necessary for organizations to demonstrate real value in their projects. Social media, as well as direct feedback, can be used to identify and rectify any shortcomings that might have unknowingly crept into the company’s operations.

Most of the technical aspects of customer service are largely hidden from a customer and it is the language, decision making, and communication skills of a customer service professional that matters the most when it comes to providing excellent customer service. Moreover, advanced call center technologies have been instrumental in helping call centers reduce cost per call, segment customers for personalized services, reduce average queue time, and most importantly improve first call resolution rates. Companies need to adopt these strategies to improve the overall operational performance of their call center. An experienced call center outsourcing service provider can help you improve the performance of your call center.

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