Contact Center Automation is an emerging category in which companies automate their most common customer service calls while empowering agents to focus on more complex and nuanced customer challenges. Contact Center Automation is powered by conversational AI, which allows machines to go beyond simple routing and data entry tasks, but instead fully resolve customer requests through natural human-to-machine conversations.
Today, more and more contact centers are adopting automation to offload customer service calls, chats and SMS requests as quickly as possible. Many are doing so to account for shortages in agent headcounts, plan for unpredictable request volumes, or to simply modernize their operations for the future.
In any case, the goal of Contact Center Automation is to ultimately improve customer experience (CX), increase operational efficiencies, and reduce costs.
The contact center is core to the success of any business, and it’s undergoing the transformation brought on by automation. In a recent session at the Gartner 2021 Application Innovation & Business Solutions Summit, Magnus Revang, a VP analyst at Gartner, discussed how to build a toolkit of technologies to succeed with automation.
There are three important considerations for any automation project:
- Deciding what to automate
- Picking the right tool for the job
- Sustaining automation
With conversational AI-powered automation, contact centers can quickly resolve tier 1 issues, eliminate hold times, and free human agents to focus on more complex issues.
Here’s what contact centers need to know about deploying their automation solution.
What should you automate?
There are two sets of concepts that are important to understand when determining what you should automate. The first is automation potential versus automation grade. According to Magnus Revang, automation potential is the “[a]mount of work that can be automated with available technology.” Automation grade is “[h]ow much of your automation potential have you realized.”
The next set of concepts is complexity versus sophistication. Complexity is the sheer amount of work and effort that goes into automating a particular piece of work. Sophistication is the level of capability that you need to do it. Are you automating something that’s highly complex, highly sophisticated, or both?
Revang says, “Tools add capabilities, but only increase your automation potential.” When you add more tools to your toolkit, you’re only increasing your automation potential to cover more and more sophisticated tasks, processes, interactions, and decisions. You’re actually not automating because automation is not necessarily automatic.
Which tool is right for the job?
There is a growing amount of automation tools available to contact centers. These categories of tools are all expanding and increasingly overlapping with one another. For example, Contact Center Automation platforms also touch AI and machine learning, RPA, AI knowledge management, and more categories. As a result, you may not need individual tools for each category. It is important to evaluate your current tools and whether their capabilities have been surpassed by emerging solutions over time.
With such a crowded landscape, “you have to determine what you’re automating, and the sustainability of the tool.” Are you automating a task, process, interaction, or decision? Each has different tools that are best suited for the job.
From there, it’s important to determine the level of skill and effort needed to realize the automation potential. For Contact Center Automation, the skill and effort levels required is extremely low – thanks to pre-trained solutions and repeatable use cases. Many of today’s Contact Center Automation providers bring plenty of their own expertise and resources to the table. APIs allow Contact Center Automation solutions to only require connection points to interact with necessary softwares. On the other hand, solutions like Google Dialogflow or Amazon Lex require high skill and effort, since you’re building your own AI with existing toolkits.
Many contact centers discover that while they may have the skills you have in their organization to build a solution themselves, the resources are better spent elsewhere given the availability of pre-trained solutions.
Is automation sustainable?
When deciding on the tools or solution you should invest in, the last thing to ask yourself is “How adaptable to changing conditions does your automation effort need to be?” Contact Center Automation projects often get stuck in the list of IT requests and aren’t acted on unless they’re the number one priority. The automation stays stagnant, despite everything else in your business changing. To avoid this, you need to consider how adaptable your tools need to be.
Think about how frequently your automation solution will need to change as well as the level of complexity and sophistication of these changes. This will determine whether you need a dedicated team to manage the automation and what that team will look like.
The field of AI is growing rapidly. In order to keep up with customers’ expectations and your competitors, your automation models need to be frequently updated and retrained. While changing what the AI says to a customer is a low skill and effort task, training the AI models isn’t. Do you already have a team to make these changes, or can you get a team to do so?
When deciding what type of Contact Center Automation tool to use, make sure you choose the sustainable option. If you’re a contact center that prefers to use few engineering resources, partnering with a proven partner will ensure the sustainability and adaptability of the solution with minimal effort on your team’s part. Building Contact Center Automation yourself means you’ll need to have a dedicated team to maintain it over time.
Contact Center Automation can deliver amazing results to enterprises and contact centers, and conversational AI is one of the main tools that’s powering it. If you’re ready to add conversational AI to your own automation roadmap, learn how Replicant can help you automate your most customer service requests without having to hire a single agent or engineer.