Automation has a huge impact on enhancing contact center operations. Keep reading to find seven ways to enhance agent productivity.
A smart security system that automatically locks the door at a certain hour of the day, energy monitoring systems that reduce energy consumption based on your previous usage history, or even smart plugs that allow you to control the microwave and the oven with the sound of your voice—what sounded like science fiction decades ago is now part of our lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are changing the way we live and simplifying our routine tasks, enabling us to pay attention to what really matters.
But what does this mean for the contact center? Automating contact center tasks is about saving agents’ time and effort and allowing them to focus on the customer. With agents spending less time on routine tasks, they can provide customers better service and create deep relationships that foster retention and loyalty.
Below, you can find seven examples of how contact center automation increases agent productivity and enhances both the agent and the customer experience.
The future of AI in the contact center
1. Routing calls to the most appropriate agents/departments.
Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are the most popular forms of automation in the contact center. An IVR is an automated business phone system feature that gathers callers’ information by giving them a few options in a menu and routes the call to the most appropriate agent or department according to their choices.
For years, IVRs had a bad reputation, with high levels of customer frustrations and service leaders admitting that some IVR systems hurt the customer experience. This was due to circumventing and unclear phone menus and disconnected flows that would lead customers to be caught in a never-ending loop of options. However, the new generation of AI-powered IVR brought a new life to the industry, allowing companies to implement new technologies such as voice assistants, predictive analytics, and biometric authentication that enhance the customer experience while navigating the menu.
From the traditional “press one for sales” to more modern menu options (such as requesting a callback or getting a self-service update), IVR systems can now provide customers a more pleasant experience, while freeing agents to focus on complex issues, reducing the number of calls that are transferred to an agent, and positively impacting contact center performance metrics.
2. Leveraging self-service channels.
One of the best ways to improve contact center productivity is to divert callers to other channels. While some customers will still want to talk with a human agent, a majority of customers (especially younger generations) prefer to solve simple queries on their own. Calling customer support is often associated with long waiting times and call queues and they feel it will be easier and faster if they look for the answer themselves. A Talkdesk Research™ report found that 85% of Gen Z customers interacted with virtual agents, in the past year, to get customer support.
Implementing self-service options (email, chat, SMS, or virtual agents) will decrease the call volume and increase agent productivity. In addition to freeing up agents to handle more important issues, agents can also interact with more than one customer at a time (i.e. one on phone and one on the chat) and respond to chats and emails during idle time, thus maximizing productivity.
3. Automating repetitive manual tasks.
Agents have a lot to take care of. Why not automate some of the more repetitive manual tasks? Not only will this free up agents to take care of more important issues, but it will also significantly reduce errors and ensure that the information in your business tools is always up-to-date. Streamline contact center operations and enhance agent productivity and team performance with contact center software that offers automated tasks such as:
- Creating a case in Salesforce every time a call is missed,
- Call logging and recording after a call ends.
- Adding a new ticket to Zendesk.
- Updating customer information on CRM.
- Proactively sending customer order update messages.
4. Increasing first call resolution rate.
First call resolution (FCR) means adequately addressing the customer’s issues the first time they call. FCR has a large impact on agent and team productivity as callers whose issues are resolved on first contact are less likely to call back about the same issue (which decreases call volume—freeing agents to handle more pressing issues) and are less likely to be transferred or escalated to a manager (so they will not tie up other team members on the same issue).
FCR is negatively influenced by the lack of access to customer information and systems data. This occurs when software isn’t integrated when agents don’t have access to the customer’s history (i.e., support tickets, items purchased, cases, and call logs), or when agents forget to input information into the business tools (or it isn’t an automated process), and when agents don’t have access to accurate information about the product/service (via a knowledge base, training, or access to a manager). Agents in these situations are less likely to resolve the customer’s issue on the first attempt and more likely to have to transfer the call or call the customer back.
5. Providing contextual, relevant information to agents.
There is no bigger productivity-zapper than constantly having to search through multiple systems, emailing engineering, calling in a manager, or asking a colleague to find an answer to a common question. To combat this, companies are utilizing an AI-powered knowledge base, combined with virtual agent assistants, to give agents contextual and relevant information that helps them solve customer queries quicker and easier.
For example, if a customer calls with a question regarding troubleshooting, the agent can type the problem description in the knowledge base and instantly be directed to the product documentation. Also, if the knowledge base is on the company’s website and accessible to customers, agents can try to direct them during the call, so they’re able to search there first next time they have a question, decreasing the number of calls.
6. Optimizing workforce management and planning.
Call volume fluctuations can be the Achilles Heel of contact center productivity. You can’t know with 100% accuracy how many calls come at a given moment in time in contact centers given time of the day, week, or month. But you can predict, based on historical data, market insights, and other available information, how many agents you will need to handle the expected volume of interactions.
Having the right number of agents for the incoming queries is not only essential to answer customers’ expectations, but also to ensure agents keep engaged and satisfied with their job. Happy agents create positive interactions with customers.
Workforce management tools help optimize staff scheduling, reducing the time spent assigning agents to shifts, and making it easier for supervisors, managers, and team leaders to manage the daily workload on the contact center by ensuring that the right agents, with the right skills and training, are on shift exactly when you need them.
7. Improving internal communication.
A determining factor for a successful company is how well its employees work together. However, communication is not always easy between departments, and, specifically in the contact center, leads to an increase in average holding time, because agents often have to put customers on hold to contact the sales, billing, or technical department.
Putting customers on hold or transferring calls can not only cause customer frustration but decreases productivity on an agent and team level. Utilizing an internal communication system makes it simple for frontline agents to ask the technical team, a manager, or a colleague an answer to a question, so they don’t have to transfer the call.
By integrating unified communications (UC) with the contact center, organizations can break down barriers between teams, drive effortless communication, promote a customer-centric culture, and increase overall performance.
Before you go.
In the end, customers want their interactions with companies to be easy, quick, and pleasant. They don’t care if you use software A or B, or if you had implemented automation flows or not. But they will notice if your agent takes ages to find the answer to their question, or if the information provided is not consistent across the different channels.
Automation removes the burden from agents’ shoulders, reducing errors and streamlining processes, so they can focus more on creating valuable relationships with customers, and less on following rules and processes.
If you’re curious about what automation and AI can bring to your organization, we suggest you:
- Read our ebook on how contact centers are transforming customer experience with AI.
- Watch the webinar about the future of AI in the contact center.
- Take a quick look into Talkdesk AI features.