Typical call routing and scheduling software is necessary in keeping center operations afloat; however, they are unable to keep up with evolving customer demand without other forms of technology and call center workforce automation software working in tandem.
As such, new automation technologies are rapidly emerging and creating a lot of hype in the market – AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), chatbots. And, center leaders are working diligently to understand how automation improves center operations, agent engagement, and the end-customer experience (CX).
With the unique challenges within center operations in mind, here’s an overview of how contact center automation compares with other forms of automation.
Call Center Automation Software
Solutions in contact center automation focus on customer experience while also placing emphasis on agent development, performance, and engagement. This comprehensive approach also increases overall operational efficiency and productivity to reduce costs.
Automation eliminates countless manual tasks completed by the workforce team each day. Scheduling updates, adherence exceptions, or even listening to voicemail messages about absenteeism or tardiness can be automated. Center leaders can proactively and immediately act on center changes that today require time-consuming manual intervention. Without this precision, opportunities to drive efficiency can come and go.
Agent training and development activities are completely automated and delivered during available time, so service levels are never compromised. This eliminates the need for the workforce team to manually schedule classroom training and move agents off the floor. Ensuring a better prepared and developed workforce improves both the agent and customer experience. Contact center automation provides every agent with their own automated manager, increasing workforce efficiency and agent engagement.
According to Gartner, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate bot technology across their engagement channels by 2020. Bots are ideal for guiding customers to serve themselves. This tactic works quite well for first-level support and for answering frequently asked questions, leaving the complex issues for agents.
Bots give agents a break from the simple monotonous questions—but they lack the emotional component of a human. For example, when there’s an escalation issue, that human to human interaction allows for empathy and understanding to be displayed. The combination of bots and agents can offer the perfect balance for improving the customer experience.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
When considering RPA, call center leaders might use this technology to handle simpler tasks, such as repetitive manual entry or looking up data. “It’s like taking the robot out of the human,” according to Leslie Willcocks of McKinsey. This technology promises to free agents from robot-like work, yet still allowing customers to interact with a human agent on more complex issues.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI will take longer to rise as a viable solution for call centers due to current capabilities, and Gartner predicts AI will handle 15 percent of interactions by 2021. The future of AI for the call center first promises to offer guidance to the customer before they ever need to talk to a human. The other option would present helpful information that the agent can give to the customer while on the phone (rather than making the agent search for information while the customer must wait).
What makes AI appealing is that it can help solve those complex issues, such as predicting how customers will respond on a call. And from there, it can continue learning and offering the data to help agents handle complicated issues. While it may seem like AI has all the answers, it doesn’t eliminate the need to have agents handling customer interactions. As with chatbots, AI and your workforce will work better together to meet customer demand.
While bots and AI help drive CX, they might miss the mark on addressing other critical areas of call center operations: agent development, performance, and engagement. And, RPA solutions better suited to solve simple processes vs. complex issues handled by contact center automation. While there are many things to consider when evaluating automation, one thing is for certain. Automation works best in conjunction with humans to reduce effort and improve the customer experience.
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