Artificial Intelligence

4 contact center AI elements to flatten the curve

Miguel Caetano

By Miguel Caetano

0 min read

Contact center AI technology can help flatten the curve and deliver better customer service.

Contact centers are finding themselves stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. The healthcare sector, government sector, and e-commerce business owners are seeing a spike in their inbound calls, but contact centers are traditionally staffed with dozens to thousands of agents working in the office. Oftentimes in 24-hour contact centers, agents share desks and equipment—including headsets. Put simply, contact centers are perfect petri dishes for healthcare crises.

It is crucial to ensure that agents can work from home and comply with increasing social distancing and self-isolation. A cloud native contact center infrastructure offers the most comprehensive and suitable solution, especially if it is mobile friendly. A cloud contact center easily scales up and down to meet volatile demand while maintaining call quality and enabling analytics tools that provide insights in real-time. It is the go-to option to keep agent performance and contact center key performance indicators (KPIs) on track.

Contact center AI elements can help flatten the curve.

While cloud-native technology is the essential component for any contact center to cope with a crisis, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can magnify its capabilities. Here are four AI elements that can help to flatten the contact center curve.

1. Getting help from virtual agents.

Virtual agents and chatbots usage is increasing across all industries. Based on a survey research, 70% percent of millennials reported positive chatbot experiences and Forbes reported that 66% of surveyed people had interacted with a chatbot within the last month. Business can use AI-enabled virtual agents to reduce their live agent load by providing following services:

  • Addressing most frequent questions. A chatbot (text based) or a virtual agent (voice based) can address the most frequent calls like information requests, update account information or even change or cancel appointments, meetings or trips.
  • Providing 24/7 service. Virtual agents reduce customer service pressure by providing service around the clock. A well designed AI-powered virtual agent can reduce live agent load in addition to answering questions during off hours.
  • Transfering to live agents. While a virtual agent can address several issues, customers need empathy and comfort. A virtual agent should be able to transfer any interaction to a live agent immediately once it senses customer frustration through natural language processing (NLP).

By solving the most common issues, virtual agents are deflecting contacts that would normally be addressed by live agents. The chart below shows this behavior. The ability for virtual agents to solve part of the interactions leads to an overall increase of resolutions and gives agents the opportunity to become experts in defusing even the most complex interactions.

2. Assisting live agents: Boosting contact center capacity.

Average handle time (AHT) is a controversial KPI in the contact center world. Some experts believe it promotes efficiency and effectiveness which leads to higher customer satisfaction (CSAT), while others believe it motivates agents to get customers off the line as fast as possible which lowers CSAT and first call resolution (FCR). 

Successfully managing and balancing these metrics is especially crucial in a time of crisis. Contact centers receive frequent calls from distressed customers during a crisis and need to respond to the issue quickly and completely. AI can assist agents with the following capabilities:

  • Empowering agents. Providing the right information to agents in real-time is extremely helpful. Proactively delivering this information can be key to improve performance and contact resolution.
  • Monitoring calls. Monitoring every single call to ensure agent performance in a crisis is invaluable as both agents and customers are under stress. AI improves performance by monitoring the interaction, whether it is a call or a chat, in real-time.
  • Warm transfer. Call transferring is one the most painful moments in a customer journey. Contact centers should provide a warm transfer to supervisors with the right information. Customers, in general, do not like to repeat their information. During a crisis, it’s unacceptable. An intelligent system should summarize the conversation with agents and, with extra information from your CRM, should be able to turn a cold transfer into a warm transfer.

With AI-powered assistive tech in the contact center, agents will need less time to answer more calls. The result is an immediate increase in contact center capacity without the onboarding of more agents. Below we see the impact it can have in a time of crisis, with agents addressing all the additional incoming calls represented in the orange area.

3. Proactive engagement with customers: Flattening the contact center curve.

Many experts recommend a genuine proactive and frequent engagement with customers. During a crisis, the need to reach out and get in touch with customers becomes key to any company. Contact center AI can assist by intelligently prioritizing outbound inquiries while optimizing the number of calls being done to stay below contact center capacity.

  • Smart Dialer: A smart AI-enabled dialer can determine which customers to call with what message and at what time.
  • Optimise Dialer: A smart automatic dialer can optimize agents’ time as well. During a crisis, every minute counts.

In a time of crisis, if a call peak is foreseeable, contact centers can leverage dialers to proactively call their most valuable accounts or notify customers about future contacts. A proactive engagement strategy leads to a more reasonable contact distribution over time, with less stress, fewer missed calls and improved customer satisfaction.

4. Intelligent workforce management: Predict and adapt to the curve.

Nothing is more important than managing agents during a crisis. How many agents are needed to handle the load and how many might be able to work. These two numbers might change every day or even every hour. Excel sheets and outdated software are not good candidates to handle your workforce management and optimization. In these situations, having a smart workforce management tool is key to forecast contact trends and adjust the number of agents accordingly. In the chart below we can see how contact center AI forecasting capabilities can enable these data-driven decisions and help to answer more calls (orange area) in a time where each interaction matters.

AI and the technologies we’ve covered can help businesses build up their defenses against the coronavirus crisis. These technologies were assets before the coronavirus outbreak and are now more useful than ever. They will continue to prove so in the long-term, as periods of customer service volatility may hit the industry again.

We hope this crisis will be over soon. Until then, please help the world by following the guidelines and flatten the curve. Stay safe.

To learn more on how AI can flatten the contact center curve, click below to watch the webinar for free.

Business Continuity CEO Covid


4 Ways AI Can Flatten The Contact Center Curve and Enable Business Continuity


Miguel Caetano

Miguel Caetano

Miguel is Product Marketing Manager at Talkdesk. He spent the last 5 years developing products and implementing campaigns in telecom industry. When he is not working you can find Miguel diving or playing tennis.