Today’s AI-powered Contact Centers help create great experiences by solving customer challenges and simplifying purchases. Additionally, a Contact Center AI can provide your organization a more effective, efficient, and visible way to improve your business agility and customer experience through simple, intuitive cloud-based tools that enable real-time, day-to-day adjustments of messaging, agents, queues, call paths, and more.

Contact Center Providers offer cloud-based omnichannel solutions that handle not only voice and text-based interactions but also include social channels and SMS. For example, Contact Center leader Five9‘s SaaS solution even offers an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) that uses AI and Natural Language Processing to let customers hold an intelligent, productive conversation with a voice bot. The bot guides customers to the best possible outcome quickly— without ever involving a live agent.

How the Pandemic Impacted the Contact Center AI

The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to provide full, at-home resources and customer-service solutions for agents literally overnight, all without impeding the quality of their existing services. In addition, the pandemic constricted our workforce, reducing the number of people available to deliver high-level services and support. Thankfully, today’s cloud solutions enable organizations to use remote agents while maintaining the same level of security and the same quality of service and support.

The evolution of Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) enables customer self-service to achieve a high level of caller satisfaction by handling common issues without the need for a live agent. However, IVAs should be coupled with live agents as a backup for handling complex issues. The ability to expand customer options and services is bound only by a Contact Center administrator’s creativity. In short, the new distributed workforce, coupled with automation and self-service, can help address the worker shortage. In addition, cloud-based solutions have also helped to eliminate the complexity of distributing an on-premises system to workers’ homes that may lack the necessary infrastructure to properly support it. In fact, the average organization today can go from zero to full Contact Center implementation in under a month.

The Criticality of Frictionless Communication

It’s no surprise that today, most customer interactions are digital. Customers can start and end their journey online without ever having to pick up the phone, thanks to omnichannel solutions. Omnichannel solutions interact with all text and voice-based channels (e.g., email, chat, SMS, social, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). These solutions also incorporate all these communication methods and channels into a single platform to provide customers with more interaction options—driving even greater customer satisfaction levels.

Customers are indeed moving away from voice and are becoming increasingly comfortable messaging businesses via their Twitter, Facebook, or WhatsApp accounts to have two-way conversations. In order to effectively accomplish this, there are a number of questions that must be addressed first;

  • How should organizations communicate with customers via these channels?
  • What are the best ways to respond to those interactions to maintain the high-quality customer experience they expect from other channels?
  • How do you plan to QA those interactions?
  • How do you provide customers with a true, frictionless omnichannel experience?
  • How do you create a system in which the customer starts the conversation using one platform but moves to another—without forcing them to repeat or transfer the information between platforms.

The answers reside in the fact that the data is easily mined to determine which changes you need to make in your Contact Center AI. The larger goal is to improve overall customer sentiment by tracking and trending, not just specific customers, but all customer actions, requests, and complaints. The frictionless model needs to expand to match customer preferences for a seamless experience. Consider this timeline of experiences within a common interaction:

  1. The customer orders a product or service
  2. The customer wants to track the delivery date
  3. The customer wants updates on the status
  4. Once delivered, the customer has related questions
  5. The customer needs to replace parts

A frictionless cycle leverages automation to enable insights and provide proactive information (e.g., delivery or product-replacement updates) at each interaction, regardless of the channel preference. Depending on the complexity of the solution, historical data is automatically collected and tracked, allowing the system to predict what needs to happen next to ensure customers are enjoying a fully frictionless communication experience.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

In the next five years, AI is expected to transform the Contact Center business more than it has evolved in the past twenty-five years. One example that’s becoming increasingly more common due to its reliability and accuracy, is voice biometrics i.e. leveraging each person’s unique voiceprint to accelerate customer identification. Another example that helps organizations understand how to better serve their customers is Agent Assist i.e. an artificial intelligence engine that mines live calls and offers suggestions to help an agent in real-time, including discounts and refunds. This is great for improving data accuracy and service delivery consistency. Improving the result of a customer solution in a single call reduces the cost and impact on the business, streamlines the entire process for both parties, and ultimately drives satisfaction and NPS.

However a customer chooses to interact, your organization will be expected to access and provide the information they need as quickly and as seamlessly as possible—meanwhile the system should constantly be “paying attention” to ensure performance and results continuously improve.

The Benefits of Proactive Customer Assistance

Recent advancements have made outbound communication more pleasant, thorough, and accurate. For healthcare or financial institutions, this includes wellness checks, policy and procedure updates, etc. For sales and customer acquisition, this includes communicating the availability of products and services, along with discounts and special offers. Organizations no longer need to repeatedly contact the same customer with the same offer but can now leverage AI to restrict offerings to items relevant to each customer, based on their communication history.

Fine-Tuning the Message

Perhaps the most amazing benefit of this evolved technology is that—not only does it enable direct customer sentiment-capture in the preferred channels—but the intelligence (via quality management and analytics) allows organizations to analyze and evaluate interactions (text-based and voice) to determine customer preferences. This process uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze the words spoken, the tones used as well as the pace, and changes in pace. Analytics now provides full visibility of those interactions across all channels and can be mined to understand what is best for that customer on an individual basis as well as on a company-wide basis. For instance, one client was able to achieve better opt-in results after analysis revealed the issue was with the timing of the offer delivery, and not with the actual offer itself. The fact that the offer wasn’t presented at the right moment was revealed through data mining and analytics. By adjusting the process and the flow of the interaction, the client achieved a greater opt-in success rate.

Additionally, workforce management tools are extremely beneficial at determining where call volume really exists and where more manpower is needed to provide the service levels necessary at each moment and—put the right people in the right place at the right time. This represents huge savings for the organization and has an enormous impact on the customer’s experience by having the right staffing and the right skills available at the exact time it’s needed.

In summary, the omnichannel benefits to both the customer and the business are copious:

  • Having the proper information in the right agent’s hand at the right time
  • Understanding each customer’s preferences
  • Knowing how many times each customer has called about a product or service
  • Knowing which of your current products or services are best to offer each customer including better terms, discounts, and added-value incentives

Having all this intelligence automated or at an agent’s fingertips creates immense success with customer interactions. And in terms of outbound dialing, if an organization knows just the right time to call or text customers with the right offer—their success and conversion rate will increase dramatically. This entire process is a wonderful enhancement to increase revenue and lead conversion. These Contact Center enhancements are proven to help organizations rank customers by lifetime value and prioritize specific customers based on their loyalty, creating even greater value for your best customers. Contact us and let us help you modernize your Contact Center experiences.