Call center automation is one of the best ways to improve your customer experience, increase agent happiness, and light up your KPI dashboard in the best possible way! Sounds great, right?
But in a world of possibilities, you may wonder which processes are best to automate. Or where you should even start. Trust us; it’s worth the effort to review your operations and pinpoint the places where automation can offer the most significant payload. We’ll break it down for you, take a closer look at the various types of automation – and share a step-by-step guide to getting started. Let’s jump in with some basics.
What is Call Center Automation?
A little background first. Call center automation is a practice of using software to automate processes and perform tasks – often those that are simple and repetitive. Automation should reduce the need for a human staff member to complete these tasks or, in some cases, eliminate the need for human involvement. (Keep in mind that all automated processes need to be monitored at a higher level and continually optimized to ensure you are getting the desired results from your tools.)
Call centers must deliver consistent, accurate information, and automation can help meet this goal while improving the customer experience and reducing agent stress. Let’s face it; repetitive taskwork is tedious and leads to employee burnout.
A 2019 study found that 70% of call center agents reported experiencing emotional exhaustion, a key component of burnout.
Best Processes to Automate in Your Contact Center
The rise of AI and machine learning has dramatically – and suddenly – increased the number of call-center processes that can benefit from automation. Here are some popular examples:
Chatbots automate simple customer service
Chatbots use artificial intelligence to answer your customers’ questions with instant responses. They are becoming increasingly popular in contact centers and are one of the first AI-assisted tools many businesses try. Chatbots can handle enormous query volumes, reply to simple questions, and escalate callers to a live agent if needed. They can be trained to answer frequently asked questions, make recommendations, and even complete basic transactions.
Intelligent call routing directs calls automatically
Smart call routing is a popular contact center automation many of us are familiar with. These IVR-based systems screen callers with simple questions and direct them to the right agent or department. This can help to reduce wait times and improve the customer experience.
Voice call-backs offer return calls during quieter periods
Voice call-backs keep customers off hold by automatically offering a call-back during peak call periods when agents are overloaded. The best call-back software is omnichannel and flexible, allowing customers to schedule their preferred call-back time from any device. Look for easy integration with your existing software, quick deployment, and in-depth analytics when shopping for call-back technology.
Automated reporting and analytics offer real-time insights
Automated reporting and analytics systems provide real-time insights into the metrics that matter most to call center managers, such as call volume, wait times, call resolution times, and other KPIs. Automated tools help organize the enormous volume of data flowing through a contact center, and having this information at your fingertips allows managers to make well-considered, data-driven decisions.
Knowledge management systems support AI tools and agents
Your organization needs a well-built central repository of company knowledge – like an internal FAQ – to provide agents, and AI tools, with real-time access to the information necessary to resolve customer inquiries.
Automated dialing systems improve outbound calling
The line between inbound and outbound call centers is blurring as contact centers rely on call-back technology and take on increased sales and marketing duties. Increase the efficiency of outbound calling and reduce human error with automated dialing systems. These systems are enhanced with predictive dialing algorithms that maximize agent productivity by only connecting agents to live calls.
Streamlined lead nurturing drives conversions
Modern call centers are integral to your business’s sales and marketing process and rely on customer relationship management and sales software. Automation can help streamline processes like lead nurturing by sending targeted emails, SMS messages, and other communications to prospects at the right time, helping to build trust and drive conversions.
More Benefits of Call Center Automation
Automation directly impacts many of the KPIs that call center managers closely monitor. Here are more ways automation can impact the success of your operation.
Automation can improve CX
At the end of the day, the real goal of any contact center is to deliver an excellent customer experience. By reducing wait times, resolving issues quickly, and providing consistent, high-quality service, automation augments the human touch and helps agents deliver next-level customer service.
Improved agent happiness
Successful businesses know that employee happiness is directly linked to customer happiness. After all, an agent who works in a supportive environment with the proper tools and engaging, challenging workflow is much more likely to provide good service than someone worn down by repetitive, mundane taskwork. Automation relieves agents from monotony and lets them focus on creating positive customer interactions. Happy agents = happy customers.
Increased efficiency and accuracy
Automation can significantly increase the efficiency of contact center operations by streamlining processes and reducing errors. Automated reporting and analytics systems provide real-time insights into key metrics, ensuring agents spend their time well and signaling areas where more support or training may be needed.
By speeding up processes, decreasing wait times, and introducing efficiencies across workflows, automation saves money across your operation. For example, an automated dialing system saves agents time and company dollars by connecting agents only to live calls, with no downtime for agents or callers. Chatbots answering simple questions and respond to huge volumes of calls, saving labor costs – and reserving live agents’ attention for more complex queries.
Better data management
When automated systems store call center data from multiple channels in a central repository, they save immeasurable human hours that would otherwise be spent storing and retrieving this information. The data is easier to access and analyze, and automated QA systems (call recording methods screened with NLP-enabled AI tools) can also monitor the data’s quality and identify areas for improvement.
How to Automate Your Call Center: 4 Steps
Automating a contact center may seem daunting, but consider the benefits: streamlined operations, reduced human error, improved CX, and decreased costs. This simple four-step plan can help you get started.
1. Conduct an audit and assess your needs
Conduct and audit to assess your needs and identify which processes can benefit from automation in your contact center. Review your KPIs and consider call volume, wait times, call resolution times, and CSAT levels to decide which processes could benefit. Involve your staff! Agents will have critical insights into the aspects of their workflow that are overly repetitive or prone to human error.
2. Create a budget and choose your tools
Start with a budget to help keep goals realistic and manage expectations as you automate your workflows. Consider tools like chatbots, reporting and analytics systems, lead nurturing strategies, Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR), and knowledge management systems. You’ll need to delve into the fine print to be sure that new software is quick to deploy, easy to use, and integrates well with the systems you already have in place.
3. Deploy your tools and monitor your performance
Implementing your tools likely involves sorting out integrations with current software, configuring the new system, and training your employees on how to use their new tools. Your IT team will be involved, so ensure they understand the benefits of automation upgrades.
It’s important to remember that automation is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” scenario. You’ll have to monitor performance and metrics like CSAT scores to ensure your tools are optimized for peak results.
4. Continuously improve
Finally, it is essential to continuously improve your automated processes by regularly reviewing performance metrics, soliciting feedback from customers and employees, and making adjustments as needed. Automation is an ongoing process, and there is always room for improvement.