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Saurabh Lakhanpal - Blog

Automation in Contact Center

Automation means the creation and application of technology to perform an action with minimal or supervised human intervention. We all have seen the usage and benefits of automation in many industries like manufacturing, transportation, defense, utilities, and many others across all the functions. The Contact Center industry is no different. We have many use-cases for automation in the contact center.

In the contact center, we confuse automation with bots. While bots are a form of automation, there is much more which can be achieved in contact centers with automation.

The next question would come up, then, go on, tell us where can we use automation in our contact center? Before I answer that, let’s look at why automation is important.

There can be many reasons, but I’ll list a few:

1.      Maximizing productivity – A contact center will receive both easy and complex interactions. Removing easy interaction to reach human agents frees human talent to do what humans do best.

2.      Asset visibility – While you are trying to automate, you will tag everything implicated in your business process. The tagging will give you clear visibility of all the assets that you have: human and non-human. And a much clearer picture of where to utilize what.

3.      Sources of waste – You can detect under- or unutilized resources which in turn means more productivity for the business.

4.      Less ramp-up time – With automation, human talent has the access to information to better serve the customers. It means less training time and more productivity.

5.      Better projections – Eliminates the guesswork and gives you visibility on what resources are needed with what skill set to better serve customers.

6.      First call resolution and reduced AHT – With access to information through automation, agents will be able to provide a better FCR in a shorter time. Who will not be happy with better contact center KPIs?

Now, since we now understand automation is vital. Let’s look at its application in the contact center to convert it into an experience center for both customers and employees while taking care of the business.

A contact center is all about the interactions between customers & employees. Automation can be applied:

1.      Before an interaction

2.      During an interaction

3.      After an interaction

Before an interaction – Improving Customer Experience

It is the most used automation use case in the contact center. Most of the organizations are either using it or are planning to use it in the future. This automation use case is what we recognize as bots. These can be voice bots or chatbots depending on the channel used.

You need to identify why customers are reaching out to you. You can look at the selections made on the IVR or categorize the calls that your agents are handling. Identify which are transactional and must be completed on the IVR.

1.      Bots: Bots are virtual agents which can staff your contact center 24x7 without the need for a break. Teach your bots to crawl, stand, and then run in full force. Start with directed dialogues, make your customers adaptable, and then introduce free flow with natural language understanding.

2.      Biometrics for authentication: Do your agents need to authenticate customers before they can provide any sensitive information. Use biometrics, either face or voice, to authenticate customers before they reach agents.

3.      Backend integrations: A virtual agent can complete interactions basis the availability of data. Virtual agents may get access to data through integration with the backend customer information platforms. It enables your virtual talent to fetch and share relevant information with customers to complete interactions before it reaches an agent.

During an interaction – Improving Employee Experience

A lot of the interactions can be resolved by the virtual agents, but the more complex, irate calls will require human talent. It makes an agent's life difficult and requires them to be prepared with information to serve these demanding customers. With the help of automation, we need to equip agents to have all that information.

1.      Unified desktop: It is usually overlooked in a contact center. The agents struggle through multiple applications to get the information they need. Agents should have access to all the screens within the single interface. Whether it's a CRM system, a script they need to follow, or relevant customer details.

2.      Real-time assistance: Providing real-time tips and knowledge base articles to agents, depending on the real-time conversations, is pivotal in achieving FCR. It can also identify a potential churn and equip agents to prevent it.

3.      Process Automation: Identify and uncover opportunities where agents can accomplish tasks quickly through automation. It may include but is not limited to copy-paste, doing calculations, auto-filling forms, auto launching applications, et cetera.

4.      Guided processes: Attrition is the biggest nightmare for any contact center and the biggest reason for the knowledge gap among agents. A tenured agent will know processes at their fingertip, whereas a newbie will have to go through rigorous training to grasp them. With desktop automation, a guided workflow can be used to help all agents complete a process.

5.      Wrap time automation: Agents need to put in call notes to wrap the calls. It can take a lot of the agent’s productive time for complex interactions. With real-time transcription notes taking can be automated, and agents only need to top and tail the transcription.

After an interaction – Improving Business Experience

While we have looked at how customer and employee experience can be enhanced using automation, it is time to look at how automation can help a business after an interaction is over.

1.      Automated Quality: Every contact center records the interaction for quality and monitoring purposes. These recordings can be analyzed automatically against the set evaluation criteria to provide actionable insights to businesses. Without automated quality management, you rely on 1-3% of manual evaluations and, it will not give you the right picture every time.

2.      Speech Analysis: It is the best tool to identify trends on the contact center floor by analyzing the recorded calls and providing businesses with actionable intelligence.

3.      Coaching: Automate your coaching processes to make use of the actionable insights around the talent pool that you have. Identify the skill gaps through insights from the quality platform and initiate a coaching program for a specific area. Additionally, you can automate the process to identify the impact of the skill imparted with before & after coaching quality scores.

4.      Back-office processes: Back-office staff performs a lot of manual tasks that can be easily automated like data validation, migration, retrieval of data, form filling, et cetera.

Now the question in front of you is to automate or not to automate?

You can use a value irritant matrix to identify 3 Es in the contact center and then decide whether to automate or not. These Es are:

1.      Explore: Explore and analyze the reason

2.      Eliminate: Eliminate the simple and transactional content

3.      Expand: Expand the agent’s ability to perform better

With that, I’ll pause and would love to hear some comments or suggestions on ways you think can bring in automation in a contact center. Or share a real-life scenario on what you automated and how it helped your organization serve customers better.

Publish Date: January 21, 2022 12:29 AM

IOT: What does it mean for Contact center Industry?

Imagine, you are cruising through the city and suddenly the car breaks down. You get down in hope of finding a mechanic and there is none nearby. You take your phone out of your pocket to reach out to on-road assistance service and “Ting”. You get a new message and to your surprise it is from your on-road service provider and the text reads, “We noticed your car broke down at city center. Hold on tight, one of our expert is on his way to service your car”.

Or, your washing machine stopped working. You call up the service provider and you were getting ready to answer the stupid questions like what is your name, address, problem with the machine, how did it happen etc. etc. But to your surprise, the voice at the other end greeted you with your name and had the detailed information about the machine issue.

These are not fantasy stories but the effect of Internet of Things or IoT. Well IoT is not a buzz word anymore and becoming a reality day by day and technology is working as a ladder for the rise of IoT. IoT transforms physical devices into “Smart Devices” to get the act upon data from built-in sensors. Using this technology companies can provide a solution for a problem or even alert their customers about a possible breakdown. Thus revolutionizing the customer experience and take the customer service to a new level.

IoT could have huge opportunities for the contact center industry, enabling businesses to provide proactive service and to be better prepared at the time of engagement. Businesses can add value to their standard offerings by providing proactive support to their customers. Contact centers will not only rely on the outdated information fed in at the time of purchase but also have the current information about the device. Customer service will be highly impacted by this. Now customers will not have to wait in long queues and listen to the boring MoH or go through account related questions or try to explain the issue to the agent. From operations/business perspective, they will benefit by:

  • level of customer service will be greatly increased
  • agents will be subject matter experts
  • increase in self-service channel usage
  • cost savings due to more streamlined and proactive approach

With the rise of IoT, a new channel will be added to the omni-channel experience. Customer’s IoT products will be interacting with the contact centers on their behalf and customers will expect a seamless and continuous interaction. It will pose challenge for contact centers who are not ready to chalk out an IoT strategy.

Contact centers who will be able to move with the time and treat IoT as a channel for customer service will find themselves with a service differentiator in a world where customers expects businesses to know them. IoT can act as a wonderful tool for Contact Centers to deliver exceptional customer service that too cost effectively.

Publish Date: March 28, 2016 10:14 AM

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