The modern-day consumer expects an exceptional experience throughout a purchase journey, right from engaging with a product to pre or post-sales support. When the experience is less than desirable, they don’t hesitate in jumping ship, and they will also spread the word about it. In the wake of poor customer service experience, nearly 85% of people stop buying from a business and almost 80% share their experiences with others.
On the other hand, people are willing to increase their spending by an average of 13% when businesses focus on outstanding service. In short, embracing a customer-centric ethos is any business’s best bet to ensuring growth. The disruptive change orchestrated by tech innovations in contact center operations presents a unique ability to meet and exceed customer expectations.
For instance, data from sources such as caller history, past transactions, interactions with digital campaigns, and conversation records can make consumers’ interactions with contact centers more seamless and satisfactory. Similarly, tools such as Conversational AI can prove effective in bolstering customer satisfaction, reducing the tendency to churn, and inculcating lifetime value.
This article takes you through the best contact center automation and implementation practices that will help you drive the maximum ROI.
How to get the most out of your contact center automation?
Realizing the potential of technologies such as machine learning and AI, many contact centers today are exploring the possibility of automation to make caller experiences more seamless and effortless. To ensure that contact center automation yields the desired result of cutting back the risk of losing customers due to a subpar support experience, here are 10 best practices to swear by:
1. Focus on customer experience
An unwavering focus on customer experience should be right at the top of the list when thinking about contact center automation. One of the first things you should aim for is eliminating long wait times. When 66% of consumers feel that a business can enhance their experience by valuing their time, this becomes non-negotiable. That’s why a conversational interactive voice response (IVR) system emerges as one of the most effective contact center automation tools you can leverage to boost customer experience. Conversational IVR systems can not only add a humanized touch in addressing caller’s concerns but also free up your agents to deal with callers with more complex needs. Besides, the entire conversation between the system and a caller is recorded in the system. Your agents can access this to get a sense of the issue/query at hand, saving your callers the frustrating experience of redundant information.
With the right contact center automation software, this database of customer interactions can be curated from multiple channels – social media, chats, emails, phone calls – thus, leveraging a true omnichannel experience.
2. Use data to shorten the customer journey
Data is the key to keep the contact center automation setup working like a well-oiled machine. After all, the whole idea behind embracing the technology is to add maximum value to the callers in the shortest time possible. While you may be maintaining data from different resources, it is also important to keep track of what this data is amounting to.
This means ensuring that you don’t fall into the trap of data silos where you have mounds of information but your agents and bots are unable to access the relevant bits in the short window of interactions with a caller.
Integrating data storage systems is a more reliable approach to maintain data hygiene.
Everything from Intelligent Call Routing to virtual agent-led support and self-service models rest on it.
3. Seek customer inputs
You may be deploying the most recent contact center automation trends and working with the most advanced tech tools. But how do you know any of it is working the way you expect it to? You may have to look beyond agent feedback and internal review to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not.
Your customers are the most reliable resource to give you a lowdown on the effectiveness of your contact center automation strategy. The trouble is that only one in every 26 disgruntled customers may reach out to a business to complain about their experience. A majority will silently start looking for alternatives if their experience is poor.
That’s why maintaining a proactive approach in seeking customer feedback through social media, telephonic, email or online surveys is among the best practices to improve the effectiveness of your automated process and cut back on customer churn. You can use Conversational AI virtual agents to conduct personalized conversational surveys at scale. Conversational analytics can then successfully intervene to obtain critical insights from such surveys and corresponding conversations.
4. Prioritize quality management
Quality management has been a key focus area for contact centers for some time now. With automated tools, you have an opportunity to optimize quality management with minimal effort. So, it must rank high in priority in the overall contact center automation strategy.
These are comprehensive smart solutions that can record 100% of calls as well as run speech analytics, evaluate customer responses, automatically assess and score calls, and capture desktop screen activity.
All of these can fortify quality assurance within contact center processes.
Another important piece of the quality management puzzle is to treat the results of these assessments and evaluations as training and coaching opportunities for your virtual agents and support staff.
5. Create an omnichannel support system
Another key focus area for contact center automation must be the creation of an omnichannel support system that is unified and consistent. In a forever-connected, mobile-driven world, opening up as many service channels as possible to make it easier for your customers to reach you seems like a given. However, having multiple channels of contact alone isn’t sufficient.
You also need to leverage the right contact center automation tools to ensure that your callers have a uniform experience, irrespective of their mode of communication with you. This means a customer’s experience when they interact with your business over chat and on the phone should not be vastly different from one another. Besides, if a caller chooses to phone in after having interacted with a chatbot, they should be able to pick up from where they left off. This requires a coordinated & inter-linked omnichannel network, integrated applications & data resources, and a powerful Conversational AI platform stack that supports them.
6. Align KPIs with customer experience
Tracking metrics and measuring KPIs is undoubtedly a good practice for keeping a contact center running optimally. However, managers have to be wary of going down the slippery slope of measuring and tracking too much. Considering the amount of information automated contact center systems are capable of generating, this would result in you drowning in mounds of data and losing sight of key goals.
Since the ultimate objective is to align your contact center operations with customer expectations and deliver a heightened experience, the ideal approach is to align KPIs with CX. First call resolution, average hold time, the average time in queue, average abandonment rate, average handle time, customer satisfaction, and net promoter score are the metrics that must be prioritized over others to assess performance vis-à-vis service level.
7. Use the self-service model to augment agent performance
Fostering a self-service model is definitely among the best practices for contact center automation, as it can work as an independent well-oiled machine and offer your callers an alternative to resolve simple and routine issues on their own. This must be done hand-in-hand with adopting other automated tools such as ICR and Conversational IVR systems. As a result, your agents can be more available to address and resolve queries that callers are unable to work their way through, while virtual agents, chatbots, and readily available knowledge resources help in the resolution of standard and repetitive needs.
With the right contact center automation tools, an agent can intervene in case a customer is struggling with self-resolution of their issues, completely aware of their service journey and history.
8. Empower and train your agents
The age-old adage in the customer service industry ‘happy agents make happy customers’ still holds water. That’s why it’s important to empower and train your agents with the right resources so that they become more invested in the process of addressing callers’ concerns. A study indicates that focusing on agent engagement can reduce employee turnover, drive high customer engagement, and increase profitability by 21%.
Effective training programs can play a crucial role in empowering and engaging agents. This means moving beyond just one-time training programs for new agents or at the time of inducting a new software and committing to training as an ongoing process through coaching sessions, feedback, role-playing, gamification, and cross-training.
9. Keep conversations contextual
Context is the key to making interactions between agents and callers personalized. With easy access to the right data, agents can pull up caller history and steer their interactions with them depending on what they already know about the caller. Besides, automated contact center systems can also provide real-time data updates that help agents improve consumer experience as the conversation advances.
Contextual data also plays a vital role in improving the efficacies of bots and virtual agents, who have nothing else to go on other than the information fed to them by the system. The same holds true for call routing abilities as well. Without the right context, even the smartest ICR systems cannot redirect calls to the right agent.
If not optimized with the right context and data insights, these automated elements of a contact center can become redundant and irrelevant.
10. Be open to change
When the world around us is changing rapidly and in unimaginable ways, staying nimble and open to change becomes essential to survival. You may build the most advanced and fully automated contact center today. Some, if not all, of its functionalities will become obsolete a few years down the line. Something more groundbreaking will take its place. For instance, who would have imagined 10 years back that AI-powered bots could be effectively leveraged to handle and resolve caller queries? Yet, it’s the reality of our times. Invest in systems and service providers who are capable of keeping up with the changing contact center automation trends, augmenting, and reinventing to keep you ahead of the steeply rising tech curve.
How does Cognigy ensure the implementation of these practices?
With end-to-end conversational automation, Cognigy brings you a complete Enterprise Conversational AI solution for automating your contact center with all the best practices in place. From next-gen Conversational IVR, ICR, virtual support agents, automated calls, and text messages, our range of well-rounded, futuristic solutions is equipped to meet every parameter that you set in place to augment the effectiveness of your call center operations. Like you, our focus too is on enhancing your customers’ experience during their service journey.
Contact center automation needn’t be a complex process or make for a troublesome transition. In fact, quite the opposite. With the right partner, it can prove to be a seamless switch that enhances your contact center’s operational efficiency manifold.