Contact centers might not get the level of media coverage that other pandemic-stricken functions do, but make no mistake, contact centers can’t catch a break.
Hiring shortages, high agent turnover, productivity declines, and unpredictable surges in customer demands and call volumes are just a few of the challenges facing today’s contact center leaders.
From insurance, to e-commerce, to telecommunications, contact centers have quietly become one of the most scrutinized departments across every industry.
According to “10 New Call Center Trends & Predictions for 2021/2022”, published by the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic has created 68% more call escalations, 50% more difficult calls and 34% longer hold times.
What takes the issue from problem to crisis is the fact that hiring customer service agents has never been harder, nor more important. Fortune reports the “Great Resignation” has the economy down 5 million employees from pre-crisis levels.
Our recent survey reveals brands that don’t address gaps in customer service are at risk, with 76% of respondents saying a poor customer service experience negatively impacts their perception of a brand and one in three saying it affects loyalty.
In our guide “Overcome the Contact Center Crisis with Conversational AI,” we outline why conversational AI is leading contact centers back into customers’ good graces with answers to some of the industry’s most pressing and timely challenges.
Here are some of the highlights:
Elasticity creates contingency plans
Like any effective crisis response, a good strategy begins with emergency preparedness. Elastic capacity – a defining feature of conversational AI – adds instant flexibility to contact centers who are at the mercy of unpredictable call volumes.
This is reducing the need for industry leaders to hire and balloon costs when volumes change. It is also eliminating the need to notify a third party vendor that you’re anticipating a surge. When call volumes spike, conversational AI automatically responds in tandem.
Instant ROI alleviates budget constraints
From an operational standpoint, conversational AI is reducing OpEx costs for contact centers while ensuring that they can scale service to a virtually unlimited number of customers — without adding human agents, hiring a BPO, or investing in the costs and time of training new agents quickly.
The pandemic has strained budgets, but AI improves efficiency and streamlines processes and workflows with the kind of ROI leaders need more than ever.
Natural conversational AI achieves results
Natural language processing, machine learning, and big data enables conversational AI to converse in a human-like way. Instead of having customers attempt to hit certain keywords, callers can express themselves naturally.
Through speech recognition, conversational AI is able to respond to multiple intents and changing contexts, allowing it to resolve the majority of tier-1 requests without a live agent.
More empowered agents leads to less turnover
Conversational AI provides customers with a premium experience, while reserving human agents for higher-level support, cross-selling and upselling opportunities. It allows agents to deliver better support while making their jobs less stressful.
It fundamentally changes how contact centers operate by introducing an additional “digital workforce” that completes tasks alongside human agents to deliver better customer experiences while improving employee retention and productivity.
Customer frustrations are put to rest
Conversational AI is allowing contact centers to directly address the most common complaints levied by today’s customer. Hold times are eliminated entirely. Service becomes available 24/7, year-round. Customers don’t need to repeat themselves or conform to machine-like patterns of speech. And contact centers don’t need to retrain agents to see their CSAT scores improve with each call.
As contact centers map a new way forward following a tumultuous two years, conversational AI is doing more than just bridging the gap. It’s allowing industry leaders to rethink what’s possible when serving the modern customer and optimizing their workforce management strategies.