The contact centre is often the first port of call for customers. As the voice of a brand, it is essential that this stage of a customer’s journey is as seamless as possible – ensuring that customer enquiries are dealt with quickly and easily.
In today’s ‘always on’ society this is more important than ever. Tech-savvy customers not only expect instant answers to their questions, they also demand consistently high levels of service, irrespective of which channel they are using to communicate with a brand.
The strain on the contact centre
It’s a constant challenge for contact centres to keep pace with these increasing customer demands and evolving expectations. The advent of new technologies is easing this process – with chatbots, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all designed to provide a better all-round experience for customers.
However, to date, tech take up in contact centres has been low, with a recent report finding that a mere 13% of respondents had already deployed such solutions. In addition, and rather surprisingly for an increasingly tech savvy society, customers appear hesitant about the impact of a lack of human interaction will have on their overall experience.
AI in the contact centre
Introducing AI into the contact centre doesn’t signal the death knell for human interaction. In fact, a good AI tool will also work alongside humans, providing greater analysis of information to help contact agents provide a better service to customers.
AI tools bring valuable insight into what customers are looking for. By providing a continuous stream of analytics on customer requests, they can spot new trends that may not have previously even been considered. Additionally, AI can analyse previous customer interactions with a brand’s website, or even a chatbot, enabling agents to understand quickly why a customer is calling, and thus make informed improvements to their CX.
In addition, sentiment analysis tools can be embedded in speech recognition technology, enabling contact centres to detect a customer’s mood in advance of them speaking to an agent. If they are pre-warned that a customer is disgruntled, they can have solutions or offers ready which will best suit their needs. Alternatively, if strong buying signals are detected, this might be the agent’s cue to try to cross-sell other services.
Why AI and CX go hand in hand
When agents have this analysis to hand, they are able to provide customers with more succinct and informed answers based on the context of their browsing, all in real time, without having to spend the first part of the call asking basic questions.
These factors not only improve overall CX but also improve the general brand reputation of the contact centre, as customers trust that they can get a swift and pertinent response to their queries.
By equipping staff with software robots that can manage simple queries, connect systems and complete common tasks, agents will have a significant burden lifted from their workload. After all, happy agents mean happy customers, which in turn reduces churn rates, boosts referral rates, promotes a stronger brand and often leads to higher revenues and a more buoyant share price.
The age of AI
AI technologies may be in their infancy, but there is no doubt that AI and other solutions that tap into and mimic human thought processes will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the contact centre, where AI advancements place us on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution.
We may be a way off the rise of the robots, but change is certainly afoot. If handled well, the benefits of such technologies will be far reaching and will change the face of the contact centre, as well as the customer experience model, for the better.