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How artificial intelligence in the contact center reduces call volume

Posted February 8, 2018 - Updated July 23, 2019
Handset phones

When it comes to a contact center’s key performance metrics, call reduction rates are often found near the top of the priority list. In fact, 60 percent of customers feel that one minute is too long to be waiting on hold, thus making efficiency in customer care a priority for many organizations. Not only does this mean a better customer experience, but also, reduced operating costs.

Reduction strategies have traditionally focused on training programs to help improve First Call Resolution rates, as well as analyzing contact center tickets to identify and address major pain points in the customer journey. These tried-and-true methods continue to have immense value in call centers, however, the advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI) and digital automation are creating new capabilities that are providing unprecedented opportunities to further streamline customer service.

With research from Deloitte suggesting that 56 percent of companies in the multimedia and technology industries planning to invest in contact center AI , demand for a new strategy that blends more traditional call reduction strategies with AI is emerging. The ensuing result of this collaboration will benefit both the contact center and the customer in ways that meaningfully impact call volume, brand sentiment and customer satisfaction.

Embrace messaging

According to IBM, 70 percent of customers would prefer using messaging over voice for customer service when given the choice.

Messaging platforms, whether offered via a pop-up window on a brand’s website or through social media channels like Facebook Messenger and WeChat, allow consumers to get the information they need, when they need it, ensuring accessibility and convenience. This feature alone is appealing, but when combined with AI, it also improves contact center efficiency.

AI-driven systems, like chatbots, can automate a portion of the customer-brand interaction by answering common questions, freeing agents to focus on more complex inquiries. IBM even suggests that by 2022, chatbots will save companies about $8 billion per year in customer support costs.

Leverage intelligent call routing

When looking to reduce the volume of customer service calls received by a contact center, it’s crucial that you get customers to the right agent on the first try. Failing to do so creates frustration for customers and puts unnecessary strain on your resources.

Most contact centers are already using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology for call routing, but according to a study on customer engagement in the banking industry, IVR has the lowest customer satisfaction rate among all major digital channels, including web, mobile, email, ATMs and non-IVR calls.

Introducing AI can help companies improve the IVR experience by making it more user-friendly. For example, if a customer calls multiple times to check on the status of an insurance claim, AI-based IVR technology can identify the call pattern, determine the reason the customer is most likely calling, and quickly escalate that query to the appropriate agent for a more efficient and satisfying experience.

Using AI-powered routing technology to assess a customer’s data in this way can significantly reduce average handle time and improve first call resolution, all the while creating a seamless and more consistent experience with your brand.

Zero in on digital self-service

Repeatedly answering common questions isn’t the best use of an agent’s time or skills. It can cut into their availability to resolve more complex and pressing queries, and even negatively impact agents’ job satisfaction and employee attrition rates.

AI can be used to help customers find answers to their questions on their own. “The first thing I do when I hit a snag on most websites is search for the “chat now” button. Yes, I know I will most likely be talking to a robot. But, as long as they answer my question quickly, I’ll leave a happy customer,” writes Daniel Newman, Principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, in an article for Forbes. “…for the most part chatbots are doing enough to solve little problems for customers. This frees up customer service reps to work on the more difficult issues.”

Both traditional and AI-powered call reduction strategies have their limitations, but when used in concert and leveraged by skilled agents, they can become a powerful force to reduce call volume. At the end of the day, however, no amount of automation or digitization will ever fully replace the intuitive and empathetic nature of an engaged customer service agent. AI requires a significant amount of past data to learn from, making new or unique scenarios challenging to resolve. Human agents on the other hand can quickly assess and connect seemingly disparate threads to solve problems never seen before. Combining AI technology with the high-touch approach of a human customer service agent remains the key to providing a world-class brand experience.

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