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2019 Trend Watch: Call Center Automation

“The only thing that is constant is change.” - Heraclitus

In the call center world, a constantly changing digital landscape challenges the ability to match evolving customer demand with agent availability in real-time. On top of this, there’s pressure to address attrition while reducing operating costs despite rising customer and employee expectations.

Call center automationThese challenges create stop-gap patterns that beg for automation beyond the typical call routing and scheduling software. While these solutions are necessary in keeping operations afloat, they are proving unable to keep up with current demand without other forms of technology working in tandem.

With this age of automation, consumers have grown accustomed to the “instantaneousness of everything” granted to them by their handheld devices, and want their issues resolved just as quickly. It’s crucial that call center leaders are prepared to make the changes necessary in order to keep pace with evolving consumer needs.

To address these challenges while driving call center success, here are trends to watch:

#1 - Chatbots Help Customers Help Themselves

According to Gartner, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate bot technology across their engagement channels by 2020. Bots are ideal for guiding customers to serve themselves. This tactic works quite well for first-level support and answering frequently asked questions, leaving the complex issues for agents.

Bots give agents a break from the simple monotonous questions. But what bots lack is the emotional component of a human. For example, when there’s an escalation issue, that human to human interaction allows for empathy and understanding to be displayed. The combination of bots and agents can offer the perfect balance for improving the customer experience.

#2 - Artificial Intelligence (AI) To Handle 15 Percent of All Customer Interactions by 2021*

AI will take longer to rise as a viable solution for call centers due to current capabilities. The future of AI for the call center first promises to offer guidance to the customer before they ever need to talk to a human. The other option would present helpful information that the agent can give to the customer while on the phone (rather than making the agent search for information while the customer must wait).

What makes AI appealing is that it can help solve those complex issues, such as predicting how customers will respond on a call. And from there, it can continue learning and offering the data to help agents handle complicated issues. While it may seem like AI has all the answers, it doesn’t eliminate the need to have agents handling customer interactions. As with chatbots, AI and your workforce will work better together to meet customer demand.

#3 - Contact Center Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Focuses on Agents

While bots and AI help to drive Cx, they might miss the mark on addressing other critical areas of call center operations. Solutions such as contact center robotic process automation (RPA) focus on customer experience while also placing emphasis on agent development, performance, and engagement. This comprehensive approach also increases overall operational efficiency and productivity while reducing costs.

RPA eliminates countless manual tasks completed by the workforce team each day. Scheduling updates, adherence exceptions, or even listening to voicemail messages about absenteeism or tardiness can be automated, leading to greater efficiencies, cost reduction, and a more strategic workforce. Center leaders can quickly act on opportunities that today require time-consuming manual intervention. Without this precision, opportunities that need to be addressed can come and go.

Agent training and development opportunities are completely automated and delivered during available time, so service levels are never compromised. This eliminates the need for the workforce team to manually schedule classroom training and move agents off the floor. Ensuring a better prepared and developed workforce improves both the agent and customer experience. Contact Center RPA acts as virtual assistants, helping both your workforce team and agents increase efficiency.

With new forms of automation entering the call center space to better address the ever-changing digital landscape, leaders need to evaluate how these technologies will impact both their customers and agents. There are automation solutions better suited to solve simple processes vs. complex issues. Some solutions may focus on one area of your operations, whereas others may focus on several areas offering a comprehensive approach. While there are many things to consider when evaluating automation, one thing is for certain. Automation works best in conjunction with humans to reduce effort and improve the customer experience.

Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/the-next-acronym-you-need-to-know-about-rpa

* https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/4-trends-gartner-hype-cycle-customer-service-customer-engagement/

USABILLA REPORT: In the Age of Automation, Customers Want More Human, Less Machine

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