Change seems to happen slowly and then all at once. The same holds when considering how artificial intelligence is changing the contact center.
You probably know at least a bit about AI and automation. Tools like interactive voice response (IVR) and smart call routing are tried and true ways to save time and money – and offer better service. They are also popular advancements in automation that employ varying degrees of AI. Most managers also rely on an analytics package (or several, depending on how integrated your software is) to monitor KPIs. Again: these tools employ automation and at least a bit of artificial intelligence.
But suddenly, there’s so much more. As data centers scale up to provide accessible and more affordable computing power, they also usher in a range of new capabilities. All at once, the future is here.
But what does this flood of possibilities mean for you? For your agents? And your operation? Here are four main areas where we expect to see advancements in artificial intelligence change – and improve – the contact center.
- More personalization and better customer experience
- Improved agent experience
- Access to next-level analytics
- Improved contact center operations
AI is Personalizing the Customer Experience
Today’s customers expect personalization. A 2022 Shopify report found that 73% of customers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations. And McKinsey and Company say that 76% of customers feel disappointed when they don’t receive personalized service.
Remember, too, that customers love self-service as much as they love personalization. AI-powered chatbots informed with a customer’s purchase history, browsing patterns, and service tickets can go a long way to answering both requirements. IBM says that smart chatbots can answer 80% of customer queries.
With an AI boost, predictive call routing can help personalize a customer’s experience by considering the customer’s call history, communication style, and even personality and matching them with an agent best suited to their needs.
When customers do connect with an agent, in-call sentiment analysis can decode customers’ emotions and offer in-call prompts, supporting agents, and improving metrics like first call resolution. It also provides a personalized experience to the customer, whose order history, needs, preferences, and even emotions are clearly understood.
Tools that personalize CX
- Conversational AI (Chatbots)
- Predictive Call Routing
- Sentiment Analysis
AI is Improving the Agent Experience and Increasing Agent Efficiency
Another place to feel the impact of AI is one of the most important: the agent experience. Contact centers are notoriously challenging places to work. Agent turnover is high, and the jobs are stressful. So it’s excellent news that agents feel overwhelmingly positive about the AI tools available to support them at work.
A 2022 study says that call center agents reported a 69% improvement in job satisfaction after using AI tools to support their jobs.
Tools like interactive voice response already lower stress in the call center. During call spikes, some advanced IVR products like Fonolo Web Call-Backs can allow callers to schedule a call for a quieter time.
- Connect customers to the right agent through call routing.
- Allow callers to schedule a call-back instead of waiting on hold.
- Communicate essential updates to customers navigating the system.
AI-powered software can also perform sentiment analysis to track your customer’s reactions and emotions in real time during a phone call. For example, a frustrated customer might pause more often, and their tone of voice may go up. AI can pick up on these signals by analyzing the tone and cadence of a phone call. The software offers live agent feedback via pop-up messages so that the agent can respond appropriately to their customer’s needs.
Tools that improve agent experience and efficiency
- IVR and Web Call-Backs
- Sentiment Analysis
AI is Providing Next-Level Analytics
Analytics are the backbone of tracking efficiencies in the contact center. Key performance indicators like first call resolution and average handle time help managers keep track of customer satisfaction and agent performance and engagement. Ultimately, these numbers tell you whether your call center is healthy and on-target to meet your business goals.
AI can take your analytics to the next level, or even the level beyond that! The magic comes from machine learning algorithms that sift through millions of data points, spotting trends and monitoring customer sentiment and agent performance. The data offers a much more detailed insight into customer interactions and can dramatically improve CX, agent experience, and customer satisfaction.
What does this all really look like? In practice, you’ll probably interact with AI powered analytics as part of your contact center software package. Your analytics software should have pre-built reports that align with your business goals. And agents should have access to real-time performance analytics, too. You’ll need to plan ahead to get the most out of your software.
Put your data to work
- Create a vision: Decide what data is important to you and why. You’ll be overwhelmed with too much information if you don’t start with a plan.
- Choose your software: Make sure your analytics package has the resources you need and an intuitive presentation style that makes sense for you and your team.
- Prepare your team: Don’t bombard them with irrelevant numbers. Deliver actionable insights in a simple, compelling way.
- Trust the data: Consider gamifying performance results to reward performance. Offer rewards that matter to your agents and engage your team in pursuing a higher level of achievement.
Tools that provide detailed analytics
- Interactive Dashboards like Fonolo Portal
AI Makes Call Center Operations More Efficient
In addition to improving customer satisfaction rates and first call resolution, IBM says AI tools lower operating costs. By letting smart chatbots respond to 80% of calls, IBM says the per-call cost shrinks by an incredible 80%.
A sidebar effect of this increase in efficiency and rapid growth of AI, is that contact centers are even more relevant – and more interesting – to businesses. Call centers are the beating heart of customer interactions, with direct access to customers and (now) millions of data points. These days that means contact centers are viewed with increasing interest in business boardrooms. Some say contact centers are the next big tech frontier!