Key Take Aways
- Contact centers and CCaaS vendors are turning to automated customer service to meet growing customer demands
- As artificial intelligence in contact centers increases, vendors can choose to pursue total automation or agent assist solutions
- Total automation offers the most benefits for contact centers now and in the future
Last year, Google shared a demo phone call between their AI assistant and an unsuspecting receptionist at a local hair salon. The assistant’s incredibly human dialogue and quick adaptations rightfully wowed viewers, but it also emphasized the power and possibilities of artificial intelligence. And for contact center software, these possibilities will significantly affect and shape the future of customer service.
There are many movies and media that speculate about the future of artificial intelligence, yet we often fail to see the ways automation already shapes our lives. From virtual assistants to autocorrect, AI has completely changed the ways we think, learn, and interact, as seen by these statistics:
- According to Pew Research, 46% of American adults interact with their phones or mobile devices through voice-controlled virtual assistants
- When surveyed about digital assistants, 72% of business executives said they use them to simplify their lives
As our reliance on AI and automation increases in our day-to-day lives and interactions, it’s also growing in customer service. Keep reading to see how contact center automation is a coming — and much needed — development in our future.
How is artificial intelligence changing contact center software?
We now live in an age of instant gratification. With numerous solutions available at every fingertip, customers demand service that lives up to their demand for faster and better results. To keep up, contact centers have to carefully balance quick responses with personalized customer experiences, more interactions with less time, and automation with a human touch.
In the fight to meet evolving customer demands, contact center solution providers have largely focused on artificial intelligence as the best solution. Popular examples include:
- Interactive voice response (IVR)
- Chatbot software
- Business and marketing analytics
- Keyword monitoring during calls and interactions
As contact center artificial intelligence continues to evolve, software providers are faced with two options: full automation and agent assistance. While both benefit businesses, we believe full automation is the most effective, long-term option for contact center solutions. Automating agent tasks and customer interactions has already produced incredible improvements in contact center costs and efficiency. By continuing to automate services through artificial intelligence capabilities in their contact centers, businesses can enjoy savings such as:
- By 2022, Juniper Research estimates chatbots will create annual savings of $8 billion in customer support costs for the businesses that use it
- They also found that chatbots can save contact centers as much as $1 million for every second they eliminate from average response times
- McKinsey reports that automation has the potential to replace 29% of customer service agent responsibilities, greatly reducing workforce costs
Further automation of contact center features offers increased resources for business growth and new opportunities to create the ultimate customer experience. The addition of artificial intelligence in customer service has incredible benefits for businesses of all sizes and industries, some of which we’ve explored below.
1. Minimizing customer effort in customer service interactions
Quick resolutions are key to customer satisfaction. According to Hubspot, 33% of customers experience the most frustration when they have to wait on hold and another 33% are frustrated the most when they have to repeat themselves to multiple agents during a call. With advanced contact center technology, callers can be immediately connected with the right agent or department, often completely eliminating the need for hold queues. With outbound automation, contact centers can even reach out to customers before they contact the company. With the introduction of chat features to website pages, businesses are able to anticipate customer needs, finding immediate solutions and gaining total satisfaction.
By 2020, Gartner predicts that 85% of customer service interactions will be automated and handled without human assistance.
AI also minimizes customer effort by creating and accessing comprehensive customer files. Every interaction is recorded and stored, so customers are saved from repeating information every time they call. Since AI isn’t restricted to specific roles, which can limit agent access to information, they can also access more data without putting customers through transfers. Customers can do less and receive faster solutions than ever before.
2. Maximizing agent efficiency
Already, automation has drastically improved contact center results. The introduction of IVR systems, for example, has eliminated the time spent answering FAQs and low-priority calls, allowing agents to focus on more important tasks. With customer information, powerful analytics, and process automation at every agent’s fingertips, they can work faster and more accurately. As automation further streamlines contact center services, agent responsibilities can shift from customer interactions, allowing them to do much more in far less time.
3. Empowering smaller, more powerful workforces
By 2020, Gartner predicts that 85% of customer service interactions will be automated and handled without human assistance. For contact centers, this means significant reductions in workforce needs and costs. AI is capable of managing numerous tasks, requires little training, and doesn’t receive salaries or benefits. As businesses work to replace agent responsibilities with automation, they gain unlimited scalability without stressing budgets or needing to expand their workforce. Instead, total automation offers the freedom to custom-build a contact center that meets every need.