Contact Center Automation: How It Improves Customer and Employee Experiences
As more consumer and business activities move from the physical to the virtual realm, organizations that invest in customer experience management are nearly guaranteed to gain an edge against competitors who sideline the investment.
After all, contact centers are a major component of customer experience. As the gateway through which many customers interact with your brand, the most effective contact center solutions will ensure that every customer’s time with an agent is smooth, fast, and informative.
According to a Gartner survey about customer experience management, 86% of respondents indicated they were planning to compete on customer experience in the upcoming year. Not only does that mean your competitors are exploring ways to gain and retain more customers through automation — it means many of them already have a head start. If you’re not actively competing on customer experience today, you might have to play catch up.
Advances like contact center automation, which is just one of many ways to improve experiences for customers and employees, is essential for achieving this competitive edge. With an increasing volume of self-service requests and limited human agents to field customer inquiries, automation enhances the customer experience and empowers the human agents who interact directly with customers.
What Are Contact Center and Call Center Automation?
Contact center and call center automation are tools that redefine how companies manage inbound and outbound customer interactions across all touchpoints: voice, chat, email, and messaging.
To understand how valuable this kind of automation can be, consider how you handle customer inquiries today. After a customer calls or initiates a chat, you might queue them to communicate with the next available employee. The customer has to wait, and your employees likely field many of the same, easily resolvable problems. By contrast, contact center automation tools can ascertain exactly what a customer is looking for as soon as she makes contact. The customer doesn’t have to wait for a human agent just to state her request.
For many common questions or concerns, automated tools can directly address customer inquiries without human intervention. At times when a human agent is required, the tools use intelligent routing to quickly direct customers to the correct person or division, minimizing wait times.
Benefits of Contact Center Automation and Conversational Intelligence
Contact center automation can streamline your customer interactions, leading to greater customer satisfaction. By the same token, conversational intelligence helps ensure customers can engage in self-service for many of their most frequent questions or concerns.
With conversational AI, automation won’t abandon customers or prevent them from actually solving their problems. A modern contact center automation platform should include conversational AI tools that can understand natural language and conversational habits.
Natural language processing helps create a self-service experience centered around the customer. Gone are the days of waiting for a robot to read off a long list of menu options. Conversational AI puts customers in direct control of their experience.
Automated tools can query information exactly as it’s presented to them. They’re not prone to spelling errors or keystroke mistakes, so they can retrieve and deliver data faster and more accurately than a human agent.
Whereas a human agent might incorrectly key in a customer’s name or account number, an AI-powered customer service bot or virtual agent will always get it right. The virtual agent will verify information exactly the way it was provided to accurately authenticate it against the information stored about that customer. This process removes the potential for human error in many customer interactions. AI can also quickly authenticate a customer’s identity against the customer's biometric information or other data.
Based on customers’ profiles, words they’ve said, the preferred language a customer indicates, or information from the customer’s previous interactions, the virtual agent can personalize the conversation. This human-like adaptation to a customer’s preferences leaves the customer with a more positive experience of your organization’s brand.
In addition, personalization can extend to channel-specific preferences. An organization might present customers with a choice of channels for engagement, such as chat, phone, or social media. After communicating with a customer, the virtual agent can default to the preferred channel for future conversations.
Thanks to built-in machine learning capabilities, virtual agents learn more about customers over time. After your company starts using conversational AI, the virtual agents get “smarter” and do an even better job serving customers.
Over time, a virtual agent behaves like a longtime employee with deep institutional knowledge of customer information and preferences. Unlike a human agent, however, the virtual agent never leaves your company. The institutional knowledge stays with you.
If you’re not using contact center automation today, it’s likely that your employees are burned out by the nearly identical service calls they field on a daily basis. As experts in your company’s offerings, they have higher-value assistance that they’re able to provide.
Fortunately, using automation in contact centers helps employees achieve their potential.
With conversational AI operating the proverbial controls for the most common customer inquiries, human agents are free to work with customers on more complex issues. The agents will have more time to build meaningful connections with customers and will spend more of their working hours helping customers with substantive issues, which will lead to greater satisfaction among both customers and employees.
AI doesn’t need to take a break or get eight hours of sleep. After deploying customer service automation solutions across all touchpoints, many organizations are able to scale their customer experience management operations. If you don’t offer 24-hour customer service today, you might be able to with the right tools.
Contact Center Automation Features to Consider
When performing due diligence on contact center automation software and platforms, there are certain features that are must-haves. Be on the lookout for the following features as you and your team complete your search.
In contact center automation, RPA technologies are what makes your automated technologies “intelligent.” Just like humans, the tools can query data sets to pull information for the customer. They can also process language, understand information on a screen, and perform keystrokes.
Consider investing in RPA tools that are easy to deploy, even by business users. Modern contact center solutions built around RPA should include graphical configuration tools that don’t require the attention of a software developer.
In addition to giving customers a personalized experience, virtual agents help human agents save time for customers by performing research on the fly. As a result, you can lower operating costs for the call or contact center while helping customers get better answers to the questions, faster. Virtual agents are powered by RPA, so customers get all of the benefits of robotic processing combined with human-like prompts.
Phone or online authentication can often take time, even with many virtual agents. Instead of prompting customers to answer security questions every time they call, look for solutions that include biometric authentication.
Using these capabilities, the virtual agent can authenticate a customer based on their voice. In certain cases, such as when an inquiry is associated with a user profile, the agent can even authenticate based on facial biometrics.
With low-code and no-code automation tools, you won't need seasoned IT professionals to manage the software. Business users can build, update, and test the virtual agents themselves.
This feature results in greater ease of deployment and more efficient management of your contact center technologies.
You’ll want to quantify your performance after you start using automation tools. That’s why you should be sure your platform includes analytics dashboards that make it easy to visualize the customer journey.
Unified reporting tools should include real-time and historical metrics, so you can easily gauge today’s performance versus your past performance.
How Is Contact Center Automation Implemented?
For call center automation software, voice automation, and other AI-powered contact center enhancements, the manner of deployment is highly dependent on the organization’s operating structure. Whatever the size or makeup of your company, your vendor’s client services team should customize the implementation to suit.
When MakeMyTrip, a travel intermediary, needed to improve the customer experience at its 24/7 contact center, they chose Avaya OneCloud CCaaS for contact center automation. The implementation process involved integration with existing contact center management products and collaboration with the client’s internal mobile and web development teams to deliver custom features.
Of course, it’s also critical to work with a vendor who designs the implementation around your organization’s unique circumstances. When selecting a vendor, don’t hesitate to ask pointed questions about how implementations are handled, especially if your organization faces unique and delicate circumstances.
The good news about contact center as a service, or CCaaS, solutions is that all of the tools reside in the cloud. You won’t need to maintain expensive and complicated on-site server infrastructure to run your contact center anymore. And when it’s time to update the software, you don’t have to do anything. The platform updates automatically. These aspects of cloud-based system architecture benefit every organization, no matter what kind of implementation you need.
How Long Does Implementation Take?
Time-to-completion for implementation varies, but a reputable vendor will prioritize speed without sacrificing quality or attention to detail.
The important thing to remember is that implementation speed is highly dependent upon:
- The size of the organization
- The number of users and business units affected
- Types of automation solutions selected
- Required feature sets for the new technologies
- Number and types of integrations and customizations
Avaya’s Automation Solutions
With Avaya’s OneCloud CCaaS customer experience solution, you get a complete contact center automation platform along with AI-powered tools, RPA, virtual agents, and low-code features that automate many aspects of customer experience management while improving overall customer satisfaction.
At the same time, you can empower human customer service agents by handing off routine tasks to RPA tools.
Avaya’s AI-enabled virtual agents provide 24/7 customer service across all channels, including web, email, phone, video, social, and even SMS. With built-in machine learning capabilities, these agents become even more capable over time, further personalizing and streamlining the customer experience.
When it comes to implementation, the Avaya team works closely with yours to devise an implementation schedule and plan ahead for integrations and customizations. We’ll work directly with your leadership team, IT professionals, and agents themselves to ensure the implementation meets every organization-specific benchmark.
Explore the Avaya OneCloud CCaaS feature set to learn more about platform capabilities, get current pricing info, and determine whether our contact center solution is a fit for your organization.