How Call Center Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Industry
Artificial intelligence (AI) is having a major impact in many industries, including call centers. While many fear that AI will soon replace live agents on the other end of the phone, nothing can substitute the human touch a live agent can provide. Rather than displacing agents, call center artificial intelligence is providing an opportunity to improve the experience for call center managers, agents, and end-customers. Here’s how.
How is AI Being Used In Call Centers?
Interactive voice response (IVR) systems have been in place in call centers for decades. And as technology advances, AI continues to find new ways to integrate into call centers everywhere. It’s likely that within a few years we will see AI enhance many of the current tasks being performed by live agents, helping to streamline processes and reduce costs. Here are some examples of how AI is helping in call centers:
- Virtual Agents. Virtual agents deliver a human-like experience to customers by providing a voice-enabled conversational interface. They can work in tandem with a live agent (for example by collecting routine information to pass to an agent) or on their own to help resolve issues with a customer.
- Customer Convenience. AI-assisted automation helps improve the customer experience by reducing wait times, extending operational hours, and helping to make the process more efficient. In many cases, customers can choose to work through an automated system or request to speak with a live agent. This allows customers to choose the manner in which they receive help.
- Predicting Customer Behavior. AI can draw on multiple data sources to help provide customer convenience. It can use data to anticipate needs, draw conclusions and handle them each accordingly. For example, if AI determines the event to be an emergency, the call can immediately be directed to a live agent.
- Agent Assistance. AI-assisted automation is doing wonders to enhance call center operations and reduce costs. Instead of agents needing to handle each and every call, text, or email, AI can help to filter and complete certain tasks for them. AI can also offer agents advice and alerts while speaking with a customer to assist with complex queries.
- Business Insight. Call centers are filled with a ton of data, including voice recordings from every call handled. With the help of AI, this data can allow organizations to gain valuable business insights to help improve processes.
- Call Routing. Advanced cognitive technologies are helping to automate routine interactions. With the assistance of AI, customers are often able to resolve their own issues by following an assisted journey through a series of prompts. For more complex queries, AI can gather relevant information and route the call to the appropriate agent as needed. Note that too many prompts without the option to speak with a live person can cause frustration. Prompts should be a short triage mechanism to get callers to the right place the first time.
- Quality Assurance. By processing recorded phone conversations and other available data, AI can help call center managers better identify and resolve problem areas. For instance, machine learning can help to categorize common questions and their most effective responses, which managers can then analyze and share with their teams.
AI is a Self-Learning System
With time, AI can use historical data to find the best way to respond to a situation. Advanced AI systems can offer live suggestions to assist agents during a call. These systems can identify key concepts through natural language processing and support agents with relevant knowledgebase content, customer information, approved scripts, and more. With live AI assistance, agents can improve call quality and reduce the time it takes to resolve customer problems. This can be especially valuable for inexperienced agents and for agents working with a new company or brand.
Why Human Agents are Important
Call centers stand on the front lines between customers and the companies they represent. They answer questions, give helpful advice, and work to build customer loyalty as well as protect the company’s bottom dollar.
A human workforce can help to give customers the answers they seek and convey information in a way that engages and promotes positive experiences with customers. The best customer service reps can take control of a conversation and lead the customer to a solution that they can agree on. These people often don’t need to follow a script, because they can use the information gathered and harness it in a way that makes everyone happy.
Replacing Call Centers with AI is Not Likely
Completely replacing call centers with artificial intelligence systems is not a viable option at this time. When you remove the human component of a company’s customer service system, you risk losing long-term customers. While many transactional tasks can be handled quickly and easily with AI, personal interaction in call centers is still essential. Through personalized customer-agent interaction, complex issues can be resolved and feedback can be received. There is room for humor, empathy, and personalization in conversations that would otherwise be missed with an automated voice. People will always prefer human interaction over automation.
Additionally, while call center AI systems can help to streamline processes and reduce costs once in place, they can be extremely expensive to implement, especially at a large scale. For this reason, many companies are either working to gradually implement AI tools into their processes or are choosing to outsource services to third party call centers who already have the technology in place.
Using AI to Help Live Agents
Rather than a tool meant to fully replace the live-agent system, AI should instead be seen as a tool to help improve that system while giving customers a choice as to how they would like to interact with the company. As AI continues to advance, more room can be made for it in call centers as an aid to live agents who are handling the company’s affairs.
Humans will always be there to help customers when AI cannot. Live agents are the only way to make a conversation feel more human, allowing customers to feel heard and that their concerns are valid and cared for.
Outsource Your Call Center Needs
Want to benefit from the latest call center artificial intelligence tools without the upfront cost of a large-scale technology rollout? Outsourcing your customer support needs to a third-party call center can allow you to take advantage of the latest technologies while ensuring high-quality customer service at a reduced cost.
Contact Stafford Communications today to learn more about our call center outsourcing services.