Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are becoming more widespread. They are also proving to be a major business driver as machines complement human labor. A research by PwC found that AI technology can increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to 26% in 2030 for local economies. In Malaysia, AI is a critical enabler as the government aims to boost productivity across all sectors by 30% in 2030 under the National Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and MyDigital blueprint.
A Covid-era survey revealed that almost 50% of Malaysian consumers are most frustrated with long hold times when contacting a call center. Almost two years after the onset of the pandemic, organizations are looking to implement and transform their operations with conversational AI and automation technologies. With the transition to a more digital and hybrid economy, traditional enterprises — be it financial services, telecommunications or e-commerce — will need to change their business models accordingly, with most transformations requiring a roadmap to deliver successful outcomes.
Starting from the front (office)
Being the first point of contact and interaction between customers and businesses, front offices are vital to every contact center ecosystem as they are responsible for creating lasting first impressions and have the opportunity to solidify customer relationships. According to PwC, almost one in three consumers say they will walk away from a brand they love after just a single bad experience. That is why it is crucial to tap into conversational AI and automation to augment human-customer interaction and build better customer experiences.
With front offices leveraging on solutions such as omnichannel AI-driven intelligent virtual assistant (IVA), this frees up time for human agents to focus and listen more actively on conversations. In turn, improving on agent productivity to achieve strategic business outcomes, rather than having them concentrate on repetitive mundane, everyday tasks that are best left to machines.
Stages of automation
So how exactly can businesses kickstart the process of integrating smarter technologies into their contact centers? The initial step is to understand what type of customer queries take up the majority of traffic so that businesses are aware of the kind of interactions and the type of customers they should be prioritizing. The more calls are automated, the more it prevents the risk of overwhelming businesses as well as agents who are at the receiving end to manage greater call loads.
This gives call center agents back the time lost from taking queries that can be managed through an automated platform and allows them to focus more on complex tasks such as identifying ways to satisfy customers. Regardless of businesses leveraging on automated processes, customers should never be left hanging with an automated response at any point in time. Giving customers the option to connect to an agent whenever they wish helps create a seamless customer journey.
Transforming contact center technologies to unlock business value
From here, a customer’s journey has just begun. Following through with customers is an important part in solidifying the relationship between them and businesses. Automating after-call work – categorizing and summarizing calls, updating systems, taking follow-up actions on promises made to customers during every interaction, and other tasks — can have a dramatic impact on costs, staffing, wait times, customer satisfaction, and quality. For example, some companies are seeing reductions of 60-80% in the duration of after-call work, reducing their average handle time per call by two minutes or more.
Given the volume of calls and the commitments made during each interaction, tracking and fulfilling each promise accurately and as timely as possible is a monumental effort when done manually. This is where promise management – a new area of automation that reduces repeat calls and agent effort while improving customer satisfaction – fits the bill. Contact centers can also automate promise management to extract, track, and fulfill commitments made during agent and customer conversations, thus integrating and automating the front and back office. The platform tracks commitments made by agents in real-time during the call, aligns expectations with customers immediately following the call, and manages fulfillment after the call.
Automating such processes can help eliminate unnecessary noise and distractions allowing agents to dedicate more time and effort into building great relations – ultimately delivering greater customer engagement.
Creating experiences that matter
As countries continue to adapt to living in a world with COVID-19, there are many lessons that businesses can take with them into the new normal. The crisis has certainly become a catalyst for lasting change – not just in the short-term but even medium- and long-term. With numerous smart solutions to help businesses better connect with customers by creating experiences that matter, it is important to embrace this change as there will always be a need for smart, agile, and remote contact centers in the near future.
By Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC
21 January 2022