In the last few decades, the dot com bubble proliferated online services including call centers at a never-before scale and more so in recent years. No doubt technology has made a leap which is nothing short of magnificence. From the days of packed rooms with enthusiastic agents with headsets to the present where the support has evolved beyond phone calls, we have come a long way. Today, ambitious technologies are on the anvil and more will come along without ado. So without straying off-topic, let's discuss what's trending now. AI or Artificial Intelligence is the buzzword that you are likely to hear, moving forward. It has already touched various verticals and horizontals to make life easier for businesses and end-customers. That brings us to one important question "how is AI impacting contact centers & the contact center experience?" If we look at the past, much of the call center functions had an element of human touch. After a customer raises the ticket, it gets assigned to an agent and if the issue was simple it was resolved without putting people through paces. But then, instant fixes weren't always a routine. Sometimes, it took multiple levels of support to arrive at a solution. Meanwhile, the customer is kept waiting while the time and money is burnt without results. It was an awkward experience for both agents and clients whenever issues couldn't be fixed in the first pass. Occasionally, tensions flare up, and calming agitated customers took more skill than hitting a ball from the tee into the hole. Therefore, the importance of AI in customer support is quite significant.
In a survey, it is was found that by 2022, the power of AI for call centers will supersede all other business drivers by up to 20%. It helps organizations to do away with micro-managing roles to let AI intervene and make smart decisions. Even outside the scope of complete automation, AI can work side-by-side with human agents to enhance the live agent experience. To understand how to improve contact center experience with Artificial Intelligence here's what you must know is current -
IVR or Interactive Voice Response became popular around the millennium and it became a standard customer interaction method in the years that followed. It wasn't soon before people started disliking the bot interaction because in most cases, it failed to bring adequate relief or solution in the nick of time. Opting to speak to an agent became the obvious result by those desperate to avoid the IVR. To a few online businesses, the effect was immediate and opposite of what was expected. Soon, agents had their hands full with a tsunami of irked callers filling their bandwidth. Along with the barrage of angry customers, they also received a mix of trivial queries only to complicate the situation. Eventually, companies getting overwhelmed began outsourcing agent support functions to avoid the risk of a bad reputation.
It wasn't until the AI emerged, that problem began to dissipate. The AI language algorithms and models interpreted languages and context to assign priorities. It shaped a system that auto-segmented customer issues based on patterns and keywords to reduce the agent's effort. The language models were trainable and translated 90% of vernacular phrases without error. Most callers found relief with instant answers to specific queries than getting placed in a queue. After initial success, the system saw large-scale implementation across various disciplines. Today, AI-powered agent support is a norm because several early adopters have realized a two-third reduction in running expense with double the productivity. A typical call duration was shortened to 2 minutes which itself is a feat for call centers.
At the inception, most automated assistants just gathered customer information to allow agents to follow up. Today, AI is much more capable than before. Artificial Intelligence in call centers is intelligently learning through analysis of data created and gathered at touchpoints. Over time, this has allowed AI to support decision-making and speedy outcome by performing data crunching in the background. It was the moment when a new milestone was made because it was a sign they were achieving human-like intuitiveness by interpreting pieces of information just like a human agent. The technology builders didn't just stop at this achievement. They went further by incorporating NLU or Natural Language Understanding. It was proving a ground-breaking way to capture and measure the sentiment of a caller by parsing speech, context, and vocal characteristics registered from touchpoint. It was enough to interpret intentions and prepare human agents so they can take over the conversation in case the AI isn't capable of resolving the client issue. As a result, calls began to culminate in a positive experience for the client because they needn't start over by explaining their concern. Adopting an AI-powered human agent was a turning point for online business as it increased the bandwidth of agents and almost always resulted in a positive outcome with reduced call time and a touch of personalization.
Clearly, AI is revolutionizing contact centers with agent collaboration and is becoming a catalyst for smart decisions and customer loyalty. Until the recent pandemic, we saw a spurt in companies including telecom and eCommerce majors using AI applications to capture variables like count of phrases uttered by callers and the number of calls that triggered a particular script. These were often assigned scores, which were benchmarked to automatically tip the sales team about opportunities. It also helped the marketing teams to swing into action and create personalized recommendations and offers to attract potential buyers. The AI-powered human agent ultimately paid off in many ways as an effective tool in reducing the churn rates and improving brand outlook in the customer's eyes.
A decade before the millennium, call centers adopted "skill-based routing". It was a simple but effective system back in the day. The software analyzed customer profiles and mapped them to agents possessing the exact skill relevant to assist. Today's AI is nearly the same, but a step up from what already existed. AI's predictive behavioral routing model uses analytics to compare callers with predefined personality models. If a match is detected, the caller is diverted to agents with the right expertise. Although AI is touted as the future of the online business model, it is still not fully embraced worldwide. If the rate of adoption by call centers is anything go by, it's an indicator that AI will take time to become a norm across the industry. As COVID-19 lockdown forced businesses worldwide to adopt the remote working model, the AI proved itself as a capable technology if done right. With many more months still left for normalcy to return, it's expected that AI will grow in not just popularity, but also adoption. Experts opine that AI will grow from $800M in 2019 to a whopping $2.5B by 2024. If estimates are true, then it's time for call centers to seize the moment to be ahead of the change.
AI and automation are propelling the business into uncharted territories where opportunities are still unexplored. It is becoming an indomitable force that will set the foundation for strong customer relations. Today, it is already giving businesses a chance to personalize the experience for clients while saving cost and effort for agents and small businesses. With the boost in technology, in the years to come, AI will become more accessible to businesses of all sizes. So if you haven't already begun the groundwork to prepare your business for a smarter future, you could be losing valuable clients who are hassled by bot-like IVRs and dated methods to have their issues addressed.
If you require special customer support services powered by intelligent technologies like AI and ML to BPO automation, it's best to skip hiring an FTE, and prefer agent support from Flatworld Solutions. We bring value to your business and offer technology access that frees your staff to focus on priorities. We have state of the art call center technology as a business driver, inspiring us to deliver the best to improve your brand outlook and customer satisfaction. With knowledge of how AI improves contact centers at affordable rates and quality, there is no better substitute for us.
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