Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way contact centers operate. From standardizing interactions with customers, to 24/7 availability, to analyzing conversations that provide valuable information to businesses, AI is the new necessity for improving customer service.
Customers require more efficient, quicker, and personalized service. In fact, 32% of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes through social media channels, which themselves are taking off as a means of doing business with brands. While customers look for an improved contact center experience, contact centers are considering ways to improve customer service operations and reduce costs.
Before we dive into how AI can progress customer service in the coming year, here’s a quick refresher on 2023’s big trends:
- Complementing humans with virtual agents
- Conversational IVR saved time and increased efficiency
- Greater data access & availability because automation is only as good as the logic it follows.
An important component to making AI strategies really sing, however, is ready and easy access to data. Contact centers can incorporate AI-powered knowledge bases as well as leverage their CRM to improve customer interactions, enhance the agent experience, and support automation.
As a CRM is a repository for customer data, a knowledge base is a centralized location to store information about processes and service tasks that can help customers fulfill support needs on their own. There are two different kinds of knowledge bases. An internal knowledge base refers to information available for employees to be able to provide support to customers. An external knowledge base is information available to customers. AI can leverage the information housed in your CRM and knowledge base to benefit your business.
Let’s look at how.
Transform customer interactions
AI is transforming the way contact centers are able to interact with customers. Through AI-powered chatbots, customers have access to reliable support 24/7. Chatbots can be configured to guide customers to self-serve, eliminating the need to speak to a customer service agent. Customers can forget long wait times and frustration trying to get answers to questions. AI improves customers ability to get the answers they need quickly and efficiently.
AI doesn’t need to remove human agents entirely. In fact, it actually improves the interactions between agent and customer. By collecting the necessary information, AI chatbots, for example, can route customers through the proper channels to best handle an issue. It can identify needs early and escalate accordingly.
Data analysis is also an important benefit of AI. By analyzing customer data, AI can help businesses determine what customers want and need. AI can collect this information through sentiment analysis, analyzing all interactions and recognizing keywords and outcomes. Businesses are then able to improve how chatbots and live agents handle customer inquiries.
The knowledge gathered and analyzed by AI can also be used to personalize the customer experience. Businesses can offer products and services that are most likely to resonate with the customer based on that data. The more information available, the easier to provide the most relevant customer journey.
Enhance agent performance
Incorporating AI into your contact center enhances agent performance. An article in TDWI stated it well: “AI can have the most profound impact not by replacing human agents but by supporting them, monitoring them, and extracting valuable information from their calls.”
AI can learn the types of questions customers ask and the best answers to respond to those questions. It then stores those answers and recognizes trends in commonly asked questions to provide a bank of answers for agents during a call. To take it a step further, AI can also anticipate the intent of a customer and provide the next best option for agents as they handle the call.
In addition to helping agents interact with customers more efficiently, integrating AI also lessens the call burden on human agents. By handling the first interaction with the customer, whether through virtual agents or IVR, AI can streamline escalations. AI can also collect customer data and provide agents with information about who they’re speaking to in order to provide a more personalized experience.
Contact centers can also use AI to monitor agent calls. By understanding how agents are communicating with customers, businesses can improve scripts and introduce new training. It can also track customer sentiment and recognize high performing employees.
Support business needs
Businesses are constantly changing and growing to meet the needs of their customers. AI is a tool that can support many of those needs. When companies expand rapidly, it is hard to scale customer service at the same speed. With AI, it is easier to scale. Virtual agents and IVR can grow quickly with you.
As mentioned earlier, AI analyzes data about customer needs, which allows contact centers to better prepare their agents. That same data can also help inform business decisions, including messaging, strategy and product direction. What answers are most satisfactory to customers? What product updates are resonating with customers the most? Are there keywords that have the most impact during an agent call? You can then measure the success of these decisions through sentiment analysis.
AI helps measure KPIs in the contact center. In addition to measuring the standard KPIs such as abandonment rates and handling times, AI can track first contact resolution, NPS, and conversion rates.
Artificial Intelligence is making its way into the contact center on a more frequent basis. The market for call-center AI technology is expected to increase from $800 million in 2019 to $2.8 billion by 2024. As you examine ways to improve your customer service, increase efficiency, and decrease cost, consider introducing AI into your contact center operations.