Wondering how to use artificial intelligence (AI) in your call center? It’s a hot topic, and many call center managers want to know what this rapidly evolving technology will mean for their organizations. There are so many questions — and some concerns, too. Some people worry that AI is dangerous. Others have their eyes on job loss, thinking that AI might replace human agents altogether. For some, there’s nothing to see but opportunity, and they want to discover everything they can about AI technology for their contact center.
There is plenty to learn about artificial intelligence and its cousin, machine learning (ML). For starters, let’s debunk the myths and get to the facts. The first thing to know is that AI is not something to fear. On the contrary, it’s an excellent tool to enhance the customer experience and give your contact center a boost. Here are some answers to common questions about AI. And a few ideas about harnessing this emerging technology to help optimize your call center operations.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
At its core, AI is a computer technology that is considered “smart,” meaning that it’s able to mimic human thinking. AI can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as making predictions, planning, and adapting to circumstances. AIs can also understand and even translate languages. Machine learning is a branch of AI that involves training computers to discover patterns in data sets. The computers then use those observations to make inferences and decisions with little human action or instruction.
The lockdowns of 2020 and onwards accelerated the rate at which contact centers adopted AI technology. Contact centers made a move to AI-powered IVR systems and chatbots to assist with huge customer call demand.
Will AI Replace Human Agents?
It’s not surprising that job loss is one of the major concerns about AI. Much of what we think we know about AI is speculative — and portrayals of AI in books, movies, and other media have been unflattering at best, and terrifying at worst. From autonomous robots that want to take over the world to ferocious canine war machines, we often aren’t provided with positive images of the potential for AI technology.
In the real world, there is a strong consensus amongst tech industry experts that AI will significantly benefit people in the workforce. In the contact center, AI can route customer calls, answer simple questions, and write and send general emails. AIs are already doing these tasks. They don’t threaten agents’ employment because these tasks don’t require the friendly touch of a human agent like many other customer interactions do.
Some tasks definitely DO require the human touch, and AIs can help with that, too, by eliminating mundane tasks like data entry and staff scheduling, giving employees more time to focus on tasks that require a human touch. AI technology can further support agents with its ability to analyze call sentiment in real time and offer in-call scripting recommendations. AI can help the agent understand what the caller wants to accomplish and how they feel, improving metrics like first call resolution and average handle time.
3 Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence in Your Call Center
Using AI can enhance your customer’s experience while also revolutionizing the workday for your agents. Here are three ways you can harness the power of AI to improve contact center operations.
1. Improve Customer and Agent Experience with AI-Powered IVR
Interactive voice response systems are the front line for call centers. They act as guides to connect customers with the correct agents for their specific needs. IVRs can save agents time by correctly transferring their calls and improving the customer experience. Equipping your IVR system with AI is a game changer.
AI-powered IVR can use natural language processing to answer specific customer inquiries, which leaves room for the more specialized inquiries (like questions about repairs) to be patched through to live agents. NLP also makes it easier for customers to navigate the IVR, as AI can make the best decisions for skills-based call routing depending on customers’ requests. Customer interaction with an AI that involves smart call routing might look like this:
IVR: How can I help you today?
Customer: I need to pay my membership fees.
IVR: No problem. Allow me to direct your call to the next available Membership Services agent. They’ll be with you shortly.
Fonolo’s Visual IVR system allows your contact center to offer customized call-backs to customers on landlines, online, and via their mobile devices.
2. Improve CX with “Chat Now” Functionality Monitored by AI
Nothing personalizes a customer’s experience more than providing the ability to get in touch with an agent using the medium of their choice. Offering a “Chat Now” option on your website, where customers can get instant assistance, provides flexibility for resolving online inquiries, no matter the time. An AI-powered chatbot can answer your customer’s questions at any time. It can never be too busy — there’s no queue for chatbots. Customers can click “Chat Now” any time of day and receive immediate answers to many of their questions, written in natural language.
3. Improve Operations with In-Depth insight into Metrics and KPIs
AI can take your contact center’s statistics and provide an in-depth analysis of every data point. It can connect dots you might have missed and provide insights into metrics like average handle time and first-call resolution rate. By analyzing customer sentiment, and the tone of the call, AIs can also shed light on your customer experience, and agent performance, improving your entire call center operation.