4 Ways Conversational AI Can Support Your Contact Center
Companies are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technology in a variety of settings, but one part of the business—the contact center—is receiving extra AI investment. The contact center AI market is projected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent by 2024.
Businesses are implementing new technology to help relieve various pressures on their contact centers. They need to scale to sustain increasing inbound communications, and to maintain consistent messaging and quality across communication channels. They need to support a shift from on-premise to remote work. And they need to deliver a great customer experience (CX) while reducing costs.
Conversational AI can help address all of these pressures. Conversational AI is a technology that listens, understands and responds to humans in a way that mimics natural conversation. It can be deployed across the enterprise in many forms, such as a virtual assistant (similar to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa) that provides customer service over the phone, or IT support over chat. Conversational AI also integrates with a business’s back-end data, like customer profiles and billing, to provide its customers personalized answers.
With these and other capabilities, conversational AI is much more versatile and powerful than the chatbots that have flooded the communications market in recent years.
Here are some ways businesses can leverage a conversational AI platform to reduce contact center costs and boost efficiency in both the short and long term.
HANDLING VOLUME SPIKES
Contact centers often rely on workforce management tools to help them schedule customer service representative (CSR) shifts according to predicted call volumes. But an unforeseen event, like a crisis or a service outage, can render staffing models useless while call queues grow. It’s during these times when the customer’s ability to self-serve makes a major difference in call containment.
When deployed in the IVR system, conversational AI engages callers and provides them with answers to more complicated questions than the typical chatbot does. Conversational AI also assists customers at scale: the system is effective whether 10 or 10,000 customers are using it at a time, and it can help flatten call spikes driven by billing questions, account status updates or company policy changes.
Placing a virtual assistant on the frontline takes care of a larger group of customers, who are also happier not having to wait in the call queue for the service they need.
EMPOWERING CUSTOMERS THROUGH SELF-SERVICE
Gartner research found that 40 percent of live volume could be resolved through self-service channels. Businesses can relieve pressure on their contact centers by bolstering self-service channels with conversational AI.
An AI-driven platform can assist customers in a variety of settings, from a voice-activated kiosk in their physical locations to a chat box in their online store. The same AI logic that powers the virtual assistant in the IVR can assist customers across other channels, which ensures they deliver consistent information and messaging.
Giving customers more robust self-service channels is a win-win, not only reducing call volumes but also delivering a better CX with the fast, convenient resolution.
TRAINING AND ASSISTING AGENTS ON CALLS
When CSR teams are dispersed, working from home rather than side by side in a physical office, it’s more difficult to train them effectively and consistently. At the same time, contact centers are trying to cover growing call volumes by staffing up and onboarding new CSRs as quickly as possible.
This is where another conversational AI use case—training support—comes into play. A conversational AI can listen in on a call in the background and, based on key terms or questions mentioned in the conversation, populate the CSR’s screen in real time with relevant knowledge base information. It can also give the CSR on-screen prompts on what to say or what required disclaimers to give the customer.
With this automated guidance on calls, contact centers can shift time away from training CSRs and toward training the AI logic that delivers all of them consistent information.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
A conversational AI platform, when applied to the IVR, can boost customer satisfaction and contact center KPIs in a short time. Once the AI is fully trained and integrated with the enterprise’s APIs, that’s when the contact center realizes its true value. The platform adapts to changes in the business’s offerings, processes, APIs and data with minimal manual adjustments, expanding the customer’s ability to self-serve through the platform over time.
Conversational AI helps create a more agile contact center, which quickly adapts to keep wait times short, channel switching seamless and interactions personalized under even unforeseen circumstances.
You can read more about conversational AI and other transformative solutions in our white paper on creating the agile contact center.