- AI-powered technology in contact centers has accelerated over the past several years.
- Contact centers can use AI to drive more positive agent and customer experiences.
- RingCentral’s omnichannel solutions can provide contact centers with the most innovative AI-driven tools to ensure the most efficient and effective operations.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a pivotal element in contact centers over recent years, even before the pandemic. That said, the recent health crisis has certainly accelerated AI use in contact centers, driving more efficient customer experiences while making the job of agents easier.
AI enables smart interaction routing and customers self-service, among many other benefits. Further, AI technology continues to evolve and become even “smarter” than it already is, meaning that its potential in contact centers continues to grow.
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Here’s how contact centers can use AI most effectively to help improve the performance and experience of agents, while simultaneously giving customers a more positive experience.
Calls that are routed appropriately can cut back on call times and customer frustration. Today’s modern call routing systems are highly sophisticated thanks to AI.
Predictive call routing refers to matching customers to specific agents with the appropriate skills and experience to handle specific questions and issues. AI powers smart call routing by developing customer behavior profiles to gain an understanding of the customer journey and personas.
As such, the overall customer experience can be heavily customized to each caller. In turn, agents’ time is freed up as tickets are closed quickly. This reduces workload for agents, which can help reduce the incidence of agent burnout.
Interactive voice response (IVR) involves a series of recorded questions that customers answer, which helps contact centers understand the customer and what they’re looking for. For instance, customers may be asked questions such as, “What is your account number?”, “What is your name?”, and other queries that help contact centers better communicate with the customer.
IVR technology continues to evolve and improve, especially when integrated with conversational AI-enabled voice bots equipped with Natural Language Processing and Natural Language Understanding, providing a much better and more intelligent self-service customer experience.
Conversational AI-enabled chatbots allow customers to communicate with a contact center without actually speaking with a human representative.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 81% of customers prefer to deal with their questions and issues on their own before connecting to a live agent, and AI-powered conversational chatbots fit the bill.
If you’ve ever tried to reach out to a company to have a question answered or issue resolved, you may have noticed that chatbots are often one of the first lines of communication offered, and for good reason. Customers prefer digital channels to quickly and easily engage with a company and make use of self-service options, giving them the ability to solve their issues on-demand while cutting back on work for agents.
This ultimately reduces call volume, freeing agents up from mundane calls and allowing them to focus more on issues that require a human element. In fact, reports suggest that automation may potentially replace 29% of agent responsibilities, which can significantly reduce costs in the contact center.
According to Juniper Research, chatbots will generate annual savings of $8 billion in customer support costs by the end of this year. The company also discovered that chatbots can save contact centers up to $1 million for each second they trim from average response times.
The goal of AI is not to replace agents, but rather to free agents to work on more enjoyable, value-added tasks. Allow AI to handle the simpler, mundane tasks, while also reducing the need to add more agents to your contact center.
Since labor costs are traditionally the largest business expense for contact centers, a smaller workforce translates into significant savings. With the power of AI to tackle a large chunk of the work, contact centers may not have to rely entirely on human help from live agents.
As organizations work to use automation to help fulfill agent responsibilities, they can quickly scale their operations without the concern of skyrocketing budgets. Instead, automation from AI offers the flexibility to create a customized contact center that continues to meet customer needs without the exorbitant costs of adding agent seats.
Aside from helping customers and agents directly, AI also provides contact center management with powerful analytics to help identify what’s working and what isn’t. AI can be used to access insights into call times, first resolution, and other metrics that detail how the contact center is operating.
This type of innovative technology can quickly spot trends that will provide valuable insight about customer experiences. AI can measure customer personality, sentiment, and tone, and can provide much more comprehensive and accurate analytics to both the agent and supervisor.
While today’s customers continue to appreciate human interaction when communicating with contact centers, they demand high-level technology that allows them to self-serve in the channel(s) of their choice, 24/7.
Businesses that invest in innovative AI technologies and processes are better able to provide both an exceptional customer and employee experience, while also maintaining a strong competitive edge both today and in the future.
To learn more about how RingCentral’s digital cloud-based solutions can quickly and easily add automation and AI to your contact center, watch the webinar “Contact centers advance: AI and automation across channels” today.
Originally published Sep 08, 2022, updated Nov 20, 2023