Artificial Intelligence at Call Centers
A Focused and Human Approach
By Robin Singh
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a big part of our society. In fact, a study by Gartner suggests that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships with organizations will be managed via technology. Considering that we can expect such revolutionary changes in the next 2 years, the question is - will customer service agents become extinct?
So far, we have seen the perks of chatbots and call center software automation in handling time-consuming and repetitive tasks with speed, accuracy and efficiency. Artificial Intelligence has opened up new opportunities for enhancing customer experiences across multiple channels, primarily by capturing, analyzing, and sharing vital data.
Although human representatives don't possess the ability to process information at exceptional speeds, but working alongside AI might be mutually beneficial. On one hand, clients will get a rapid resolution of their queries and requests. And on the other, agents could dedicate their extra time to focus on more urgent matters.
The truth is that corporations are still unsure about the appropriate use of artificial intelligence in the industry. But one thing is for certain, a focused and human approach is the only way for AI and call centre agents to get along and prosper.
While some people look at Artificial Intelligence as some kind of a sci-fi almighty robot capable of world domination, it's actually a series of algorithms scientists like to call soft/weak AI. Once fully automated, this technology can interact with customers, but such convenience would not come without limitations.
AI cannot be relied upon to deal with more complex issues and complaints that involve emotions because they lack the ability to understand them. For instance, the system can't comprehend sarcasm, so if an angry customer says something like "wow, great service", they simply won't understand the meaning behind it.
In other words, a human touch is an absolute necessity for the supervision of AI empowered call centers in the same way a rookie needs a bit of training before interacting with clients.
So what is AI's ultimate purpose?
Well, the utilization of AI in call centers comes down to:
- Supporting operators with knowledge
- Finding patterns in a vast amount of data gathered from both sides of phone calls
- Analyzing agents' performance
- Predicting lead conversions
Speaking of knowledge, many advanced cloud-based CRM vendors now offer the solution of combining enhanced knowledge with Artificial Intelligence. When the call center's knowledge base software is aligned with sensitive artificial intelligence, AI algorithms are free to train and therefore improve the accuracy and precision of their methods.
And the results?
The customers are more engaged and lead conversions become higher.
Call Centers of the Future
Although AI technology is currently at a nascent stage and is still in the development phase, there is no doubt it will reshape call center operations. We can expect to note higher performance rates due to virtual customer assistants (VCA) that will be able to accurately predict customer demands, requests, and queries and attend to them with tailored-solutions.
Meaning personalized customer care will not only improve the client's experience, but it will also provide a competitive advantage to early adopters of AI. While human service representatives will still be a necessary part of the process, AI will play a key role in automating the vast majority of interactions, anticipating customer needs, and providing instant virtual help to prospects, thus increasing the chances of conversion.
How will this work?
We can say that AI will become a personal assistant to call service agents. People will still call the customer service, but they will get AI help in the process. To better understand the future we are facing, let's examine the three vital functions predicted for AI in 2020:
- Virtual customer assistant - A customer who wants to change their account details will talk to an agent to request this type of service. However, the process will be further governed by an AI assistant who will identify and update the details by using voice print analysis to confirm the client's query.
- Anticipating customer needs - Before answering the call, the AI system will, within milliseconds, analyze the customer account, behavioral patterns, current situation, and then decide if the call is urgent. AI anticipates if the customer is in need of immediate help and labels the call according to urgency and purpose.
- Client interactions - So what happens if the call is really important? An agent replies and speaks with the customer about an issue. However, the AI assistant listens to the conversation and extracts keywords by applying natural language processing. From there on, AI analyzes the situation for finding the best possible solution which will be sent to the customer once the call agent confirms it.
Call Centre Agents and Artificial Intelligence can work better as a team. Robotics will change many job functions but they will not be able to efficiently perform entire business processes alone. It will help to put a stop to repetitive tasks and provide opportunities for creating new job positions as well. And not to forget that not every customer would prefer talking with a machine, so human roles are absolutely safe.
Right now, the best thing companies can do is to implement AI along their current call center software solution. This can massively improve the company's connections with customers and the quality of customer service.
Thanks to AI voice recognition and analysis capabilities, agents can be better trained by pinpointing certain weaknesses. An added bonus is that with knowledge recommendation features and call summaries, consumers will immediately get the answers they need. Ultimately, it's a win-win situation for all parties involved.