The quality of service and efficiency of how a contact centre is run directly impacts its ability to be successful. Technology is always advancing so to remain competitive it is important for every organisation to regularly review the systems and processes in place to see how these can be improved.

The Genesis of Automation and IVR

Attempts to automate phone-based customer interactions have been around for decades. First-generation IVR (interactive voice response) systems were one of the first systems to automatically interact with a customer through voice recognition and/or keypad inputs. The IVR’s primary role is to automate some of the simpler tasks such as providing account details, transferring funds, or paying a bill. This type of automation allows agents to make better use of their time.

The advent of web interfaces, such as queries through chatbots or social media, means the focus is now on the entire business’ omnichannel experience. Tremendous advancements fuel today’s generation of contact centre automation in AI-powered natural language processing, sophisticated voice bots and intelligent machine learning. This has shown that humans and virtual agents can operate as co-workers helping to make the agents’ job more interesting.

How Automation Of The Contact Centre Works:

Automation within a contact centre can increase efficiency at the front-end and back-end, allowing managers and agents to make more informed decisions. Modern technology can respond to situations faster than most human counterparts, providing a competitive edge when achieving KPIs. While modern technology demonstrates impressive computing speed, its ability to solve complicated customer queries is currently limited.

Modern-day AI makes decisions and outputs based on the analysis of previous events, then makes a consolidated prediction for future outcomes. Whilst this technology has shown remarkable results at improving agent efficiency and quality of customer service, the technology displays a lacking ability to handle complicated queries or account for future events that the system has no existing experience in dealing with.

The COVID-19 pandemic placed tremendous strain on contact centres worldwide, forcing tough decisions and the need to adapt to challenging circumstances. Whilst modern-day technology was not able to predict the events of the pandemic were going to take place, it did assist managers and agents through difficult times.

Types of Automation:

Automation is primarily used in the following ways within a contact centre but is not limited to:

Chatbots and Active Listening – Chatbots are becoming one of the fastest adopted technologies in the world. This trend extends far out of the world of contact centres, with many business websites adopting chatbots of their own. Active listening is an important part of the automation process for IVR systems. Natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) provides inputs into natural language generation (NLG), which delivers intuitive IVR systems and improves other touchpoints with the customer service model. IVRs can now process basic requests faster than ever while mimicking a human experience and maintaining the same level of quality. This AI technology has allowed the contact centre industry to maintain a high standard of customer service whilst also achieving higher levels of efficiency.

Robotic process automation (RPA) – This functionality automates common, reproducible agent tasks in the contact centre. RPA can be used to prompt agents to read specific verbiage or help drive call handling efficiency.  Whether your agents need assistance ensuring compliance or auto-populating data from one system to another, RPA can help boost agent engagement and customer satisfaction.

Intelligent Automation  – A great way to provide your staff with the help and assistance they need to provide the best service they can to your customers. This functionality can make the most out of idle time by sending activities directly to agent desktops. It integrates with your ACD and WFM tool to monitor contact centre metrics and uses this information to determine when to deliver training during the most optimal time. Using predetermined business rules, this type of automation solution prompts agents to work on their prioritised list of tasks. Examples include: 1:1 coaching, personalised training, time to read company updates or responding to emails.

Improving The Customer Experience:

Modern-day automation analyses customer interactions, agent behaviours, contact volumes and hundreds of other variables to deliver a concise contact centre operation plan to help achieve key KPIs. Points of automation such as an IVR, process and intelligent automation have enabled companies to improve their customer service, reduce shrinkage and increase agent engagement regardless of turbulence in the external environment.

The Future Of Contact Centre Automation:

Consumer demand is expected to increase dramatically; Deloitte predicts retail spending growth will reach 5.9% for 2020-21, leading to an overall increase in demand for customer service. Growth within the Australian workforce size doesn’t compare to the growth in consumer spending, meaning the contact centre industry is now expected to make more from less. Automation, through its various forms, will help greatly by removing the need for agents to do many of the simple, repetitive tasks they do today and ensuring they get the coaching and 1on1 time they need. 

If you would like to find out more about automation speak to one of our friendly consultants today.