Artificial Intelligence has been a scientific research area for decades and the latest advances in computing capacity, data collection and transmission, and NLP have generated much speculation on how this technology will evolve and what can be achieved in the next few years. However, this trend is not new. AI has lived through hyped periods, sometimes living up to expectations and sometimes not.
In the fight to meet evolving customer demands, contact center solution providers have largely focused on artificial intelligence as the best solution. AI gives your audience a chance to answer their questions themselves before they interact with an agent, as intelligent algorithms can quickly and automatically find the right information for customers by delivering self-service options.
Application of AI in smart contact centers
Some of the most common aspects of AI that contact centers need to consider in the coming months and years are:
Automation for higher efficiency
In a world where customers demand your contact center to be “always-on” and always available, it’s clear that some robotic assistance is necessary. Artificial Intelligence, even at a basic level, can allow businesses to automate some of the more repetitive tasks in the customer support journey. For instance, chatbots can provide customers with answers to basic questions so that they can serve themselves before seeking for an agent’s assistance.
Enhancing customer experience
Customer experience is by far the most important driver of the AI revolution. Companies want to make sure they give their clients the most convenient experience possible. With artificial intelligence, it’s easier to drive those amazing experiences. In order to ensure a call goes through to the person with the best equipped to handle it, AI can provide agents with contextual information about a caller. This means agents will be able to see what the customer issues were prior to the call, which products they are calling about, and more. That way, your customer does not have to repeat their issue constantly to get a result.
Capturing vital information
Today’s customers don’t want to be treated like just another number in your profit margin. Everyone you interact with wants to be assured that you understand and care about him or her. Artificial intelligence can provide that personalized experience by helping you to discover useful information. For instance, Discovery features in Artificial Intelligence contact centers can allow you to comb through patterns in customer voice and tone to find out when someone is angry or happy about a call. This sentiment analysis will ensure agents are informed when a conversation is moving in the wrong direction. AI solutions can also provide guidance on how to regain control of the discussion if it starts going south.
Predicting future needs
AI in a contact center can also use the data gathered from day-to-day conversations to make predictions about what a customer might want or need from your company. Because AI can analyze massive data sets rapidly, it can offer forecasts that humans would not be able to come up with. For instance, your system could analyze a customer’s file and suggest that they may need some new ink for their printer soon because they haven’t bought some in a while. This kind of predictive analysis can lead to excellent recommendations for agents to make during a contact center conversation, opening the door for upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
AI for real
The example below illustrates how AI can make the future contact center more effective.
A customer experiences car trouble and is stranded in the middle of a road on a freezing night. He/she calls the roadside assistance service. Even before the call is answered, the contact center’s AI judges it to be urgent. In a few milliseconds, it made that determination by acting on the context of the call:
- The caller-ID was associated with the customer account
- In the last 10 years, the customer has not called the rescue line even once
- Other customers with a similar profile call only when they really need help
- The cold weather in the customer’s home city means hypothermia is a risk if the customer is stuck without heat for too long
AI puts the customer at the top of the queue; his/her call will be answered next. It then finds out how long the customer has to wait for help and shows that to the agent when they answer his/her call.
In this case, AI used the context of the customer’s call to judge its purpose and urgency, and then routed the call appropriately. While it is not a leap to assume someone calling late at night from a city experiencing inclement weather might need urgent help, non-obvious patterns will be revealed in both public and private sources of data. Machine-learning tools will then anticipate how best to respond when it sees those patterns unfolding. Everything from staffing levels, to the best promotions to run, to the type of interaction a customer prefers, will be set by software programmed through machine learning.
The AI advantage in a smart contact center
The addition of artificial intelligence in customer service has incredible benefits for businesses of all sizes and industries, some of which are mentioned below.
1. Minimizing customer effort in customer service interactions
Quick resolutions are key to customer satisfaction. According to Hubspot, 33% of customers experience the most frustration when they’re put on hold and made to wait i. Another 33% are frustrated the most when they have to repeat themselves to multiple agents during a call. With advanced contact center technology, callers can be immediately connected with the right agent or department, often completely eliminating the need for hold queues. With outbound automation, contact centers can even reach out to customers before they contact the company. With the introduction of chat features to website pages, businesses can anticipate customer needs, find immediate solutions, and gain complete customer satisfaction.
2. Maximizing agent efficiency
Automation has drastically improved contact center results. The introduction of IVR systems, for example, has eliminated the time spent answering FAQs and low-priority calls, allowing agents to focus on more important tasks. With customer information, powerful analytics, and process automation at every agent’s fingertips, they can work faster and more accurately. As automation further streamlines contact center services, agent responsibilities can shift from mere customer interactions to meaningful engagement, allowing them to do much more in far less time.