What is Contact Center Automation?
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What is Contact Center Automation?

Harry Chang
May 5, 2022 3 min read

Contact Center Automation: Service for Your Customers, Relief for Your Agents 

Contact Center Automation is the new way customer service gets done. It is a quickly emerging category that uses technology to automate tier-1 customer service conversations while empowering agents to focus on more complex and nuanced customer challenges. 

Rather than aiming to displace agents or deflect customers, Contact Center Automation uses a hybrid approach to resolve as many customer service requests as needed through automation, by whatever channel the customer prefers. By doing so, agent time is maximized on customer support conversations that require creativity and empathy. 

Contact Center Automation: Why Now?

Contact Center Automation provides a solution for contact centers to achieve their most important goals: satisfying customers, supporting agents, and reducing costs. 

This is especially important in today’s environment, where three major factors have made customer service harder than ever. 

  1. The Great Resignation. The ongoing employee shortage has magnified a crisis that has been building in contact centers for years. As a pure cost center, the economics of contact centers have always been built on a delicate balance of having just enough agents on hand to service customers, without so many that costs skyrocket. Turnover in contact centers has spiked amid a greater labor shortage, resulting in unpredictable agent forecasting, long wait times and frustrated consumers.  
  2. The Global Pandemic. According to the Harvard Business Review, the pandemic has created 68% more call escalations, 50% more difficult calls and 34% longer hold times. Excess stress on agents impairs their ability to provide good service, while on the other hand, the pandemic has increased both customer demand and expectations.
  3. Unpredictable External Forces. Catastrophic weather events, cybersecurity threats, supply chain disruptions and other unpredictable events create massive customer service challenges. Contact centers can’t scale up and down fast enough to meet customer demand in the face of these events. As a result, forecasting immediate and future staffing needs has become unreliable at best.

Core Features

Contact Center Automation leverages a suite of technologies that are tailored to customer service and designed specifically for contact center use cases.

While individual Contact Center Automation solutions may take varied approaches to features like conversational AI, integrations, multi-channel support, and analytics, a comprehensive solution should have a number a few core pillars: 

🗣 Natural Conversations
A Natural Language Understanding (NLU) brain that can quickly and accurately comprehend and converse in natural language to resolve customer issues in any language.

📲 Omnichannel Support
Multichannel support for voice, SMS, VIVR, webchat, social, email, in-app, and business messaging to resolve customer issues anywhere with seamless context switching.

🧱 Conversation Design
A user-friendly conversation design studio to design, deploy, and update autonomous conversation scripts across use-cases with pre-built conversation components.

📊 Conversation Analytics
Out-of-the-box, customizable analytics that provide insights into conversation performance, A/B testing outcomes, and KPIs like call volume, average handle time, and trending support issues.

🔍 Conversation Interface
Full visibility into conversation transcripts for reviewing, monitoring, and searching live and past conversations; auto-tagged metrics including disposition, sentiment, and timestamps.

🤝 Agent Collaboration
Built-in workflow capabilities including smart agent handoff, automated after-call work, intelligent routing, and agent assist for increased productivity and hybrid-working models.

🔌 Comprehensive Integrations
Out-of-the-box platform-agnostic integrations to deploy autonomous conversations across existing contact center, CRM, and internal system workflows

🔒 Secure Infrastructure
Scalable and redundant infrastructure that can handle millions of autonomous conversations concurrently with enterprise-grade security that is SOCII, GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI compliant.

Current Applications

The flexibility and forecastable ROI of Contact Center Automation have made it an essential part of the greater digital transformation taking place in contact centers.

Findings from a 2021 McKinsey survey indicate that AI adoption is experiencing a rapid rise, with 56% of all respondents reporting AI solutions in at least one function last year, up from 50% in 2020. 

The most popular AI use cases span a range of functional activities with Contact Center Automation ranking as the third most-common application in 2021. And, customers are more willing than ever to get resolutions through automation. According to the Replicant 2021 Contact Center Survey, 71% of customers would rather speak to a machine than endure 15 minutes on hold.

What’s Next

The longer labor shortages persist, the more choices leaders in contact center operations and CX will have to approach the problem. 

Brands will need to think long-term to decide whether incremental improvements in internal communications, agent workflows, and customer self service options are enough to get them back to stability, or if true transformation is needed in order to increase their competitiveness in a customer-first world where agents are hard to come by. 

In either case, Contact Center Automation has the potential to usher in a new era of customer service. It represents the next generation of contact center solutions with state-of-the-art technology tailored to the glaring needs of the industry. For the first time, it brings true innovation to a department that has traditionally been neglected as a sunk cost. 

Brands who embrace Contact Center Automation first will be in the best position to capture the agents and customers who have long demanded it.

Download the guide to learn everything you need to know about Contact Center Automation. 👇Learn how Contact Center Automation is transforming customer service with Replicant.