Big Data

How AI Impacts the Future of Contact Center Agents

For the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been a major topic in business. Right now, one of the best uses for AI algorithms is to process data and then make recommendations or predictions related to the customer. There are more advanced ways to employ AI too, though, many of which interact directly with the customer. By adding newer types of AI to the contact center, another question arises: what does this mean for live agent support?

Invisible vs. Visible AI

Much of AI runs in the background, making it invisible to customers. For example, AI can analyze history and trends to make customized recommendations. While customers may not know how, they certainly know that their experience is improving. Visible AI, on the other hand, interacts directly with the customer. An example of this is Siri for iOS, a digital assistant that you can interact with relatively naturally and without looking at your device.

The invisible types of AI have been around for a long time. They’re mature, and they effectively improve and streamline processes. Visible AI, though, isn’t nearly as mature. There’s more room for error, and since customers are dealing with it directly, problems need to be swiftly addressed by live agents.

AI Accuracy and Live Support

There’s often a question of how much AI will replace humans in the workplace. It’s unlikely that AI will ever be 100% accurate, which is why a live support team is still integral to the contact center. Any AI that’s customer-facing requires a support team behind it that can quickly jump in if a mistake is made. Live agents are the only ones able to handle tasks that require empathy, in-depth decision-making skills, and high-level understanding.

Furthermore, some experts think that it’s best to keep AI and human-ness separate. They feel that no matter how much tech advances, AI is never going to be truly human – and maybe it shouldn’t try to be.

Smarter Hiring with AI in Mind

As modern contact centers integrate AI into their routine processes, there should be more of a focus on communication, creativity and empathy skills when hiring agents. Once you know which tasks you’ll automate using AI, you can hire people who match the skills needed for the tasks you can’t or won’t automate.

How do you use artificial intelligence in your contact center?

 

 

 

 

Using Big Data to Enhance the Customer Experience

Customers are happy to stay with brands that provide excellent service, and that includes knowing what they want and offering it to them when they want it. To the customer, this seems like uncanny intuition, but smart brands know this doesn’t have anything to do with a sixth sense. Analyzing customer data is the only “magic” needed.

Collecting and storing customer data is doing nothing for you if you’re not actually putting that data to use, though. Here’s how to make customer data work for you.

  1. Personalize the customer experience.

Today, simply having an app or website that works isn’t enough. A personalized customer experience results in better engagement, conversions and revenue. The customer should have their interests and preferences catered to when they log in. For example, customers who always pay online ­– and who don’t usually log in for other reasons ­– can be taken directly to the payment page.

  1. Fix problems quickly.

Real-time analytics show what’s happening now, giving you the chance to solve problems before they become catastrophes. For example, if a customer is having a problem with the support agent, you can jump in to solve the issue before the customer gets off the phone. If you end the call on a positive note, they won’t be tempted to bash your business on social media. You can also collect data from different social media platforms to discover when customers are talking about you online, and then get in on the conversation to solve issues fast.

  1. Figure out what you’re doing wrong.

Customer data can show you where visitors are getting stuck or at what point they’re abandoning your app or website. This can help you hone in on areas that aren’t working so well, giving you the opportunity to streamline processes even more. For example, do you notice that customers who try to engage in a live chat via the app often end up calling for phone support? Maybe the chat freezes or agents are too slow to respond.

User data can be turned into reports for all sorts of information, and customers can be segmented in a variety of ways, giving contact center agents the chance to provide excellent, targeted service. The best approach is to figure out which data you need so that you spend more time using it than you do collecting it.

How to Create Customer Personas

When it comes to customer service and marketing, knowing your audience is everything. Customers aren’t a concept – they’re real people with personalities, needs and expectations, and knowing how to cater to them is integral to your success. Creating detailed personas will show you where and how to best reach your target audience, and it can also help you build an effective customer journey map.

What is a customer persona?

A customer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Make it believable, as though you were describing a real person. Give them a background, outline their attitude, identify their motives, and figure out their negative triggers. You can even give the persona a name.

Here are a few specifics to include in your customer persona:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Goals
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Location
  • Needs
  • Size of household

Note that you’ll probably create more than one customer persona to accurately represent the different people who form your primary audience.

How do I add depth to a customer persona?

There’s almost no way to add too much detail to a customer persona. By narrowing their traits, you’ll be able to target only the customers who will have a genuine interest in your brand. Dive deeper by answering questions like these:

  • What age are they at each of the touch points of the customer journey?
  • What is their biggest struggle when it comes to reaching their goals?
  • Aside from subjects within your niche, what other interests do your customers have? Where, when and how often do they engage with their interests?
  • Which social media platforms are they using and how are they using them?

Is there any help out there for creating customer personas?

If you’re struggling with answering the basic questions, or if you have the general descriptors down but don’t know how to add depth to them, there are several ways to more accurately identify your audience.

Market segmentation will help you divide your market into smaller, more identifiable segments, which could help you create more distinct personas. You can also interview your best customers; send surveys or take polls through email or social media marketing; and look closely at your stats from your different social media platforms.

Your customers are the most important people to your business. By creating personas, you’re able to appeal to their empathy, build stronger relationships and directly appeal to their motivations. To learn more about Personas, watch a recording of the West webcast: No More Stilted Robotic Conversations: 5 Steps to Smooth Dialogue

Elevated CX Is Achieved by Empowering Agents Through Tools and Technology

According to Gallup, highly engaged customer service teams achieve, on average, a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. So, it should come as no surprise that three out of five of our top tips for elevating the customer experience in enterprise contact centers are related to agent engagement and empowerment through tools and technology. The following are our five favorite ways to boost agent productivity:

  1. Declutter the agent desktop with an innovative UI.

Provide agents with innovative contact center technology that dynamically selects the most relevant data elements to be shown on the visible part of the desktop. Such technology increases agent efficiency by reducing the time it takes for agents to respond to customer inquiries. Findings in our 2017 trend report show that 40% of the respondents use three or more systems to handle channels in the contact center. Consolidating technologies and information is a great way to empower agents!

  1. Give agents easy-to-use technology for automatic customer recognition.

Having a contact center system that automatically looks up incoming interactions across both internal and external databases to identify customers allows agents to deliver a more personalized response to customers. When your omnichannel system can perform recognition across all channels and federate data from multiple CRMs and applications, agents are truly empowered to solve customer inquiries.

  1. Eliminate mundane transactions with AI and provide agents with AI Assist.

Most industry professionals see adding AI and bots to the contact center as a beneficial strategy for cutting costs and improving the customer experience. There is also evidence that agents feel more engaged when AI and bots are introduced because as bots handle easier transactions, agents are freed to handle the more advanced customer interactions. You can even take this one step further and use your AI to assist agents with intelligent agent reply suggestions.

  1. Automate workflows.

Enterprise process automations allow contact centers to play a larger role in the company. Such automations can be powered by incoming interactions, outbound contact lists, APIs, and a number of triggers, such as customer sentiment, across all channels.

  1. Limit downtime with active-active technology.

Enterprise contact centers can lose thousands in profits when their vendor experiences unexpected downtime. Unique disaster containment is a must in providing top-tier customer support. An active-active approach ensures that all sites of the overall geographically distributed system share the transaction load. If a site fails, the other parts of the system pick up the failed site’s portion of the transactions immediately.

The customer experience and agent empowerment are directly linked. In fact, customer experience leaders have 1.5 times as many engaged employees as do less motivated customer experience providers.

How do you empower your agents?

Important Business Intelligence Tools for the Contact Center

In order for the contact center to meet (and exceed) performance goals, the right business intelligence (BI) tools and technologies have to be in place. BI tools help contact centers improve and optimize their processes in order to heighten their success rate. BI digs deeper into the data you’re already collecting to find ways to relate your findings to the customer experience and, in turn, improve customer retention.

Aggregate Analytics

Aggregate analytics, also referred to as big data, deliver information about the contact center’s overall performance. Both structured and unstructured data is organized and delivered via an “at a glance” dashboard, or something similar. The key is to have only relevant data included so that supervisors don’t have to wade through inapplicable data.

Call Recording Tools

Speech analytics tools – a long-time staple of the modern contact center – accurately transcribe conversation audio to ensure that agents are adhering to a script or guidelines when speaking with a customer. In industries that have strict rules about what can and cannot be mentioned (like collections, for example), speech analytics are even more important than usual. Certain advanced call recording tools will allow for Voice of Customer considerations, too. Real-time feedback, call coaching and customer surveys enable supervisors to make decisions that can improve the customer experience in-the-moment.

Predictive Voice Analytics

Predictive voice programs not only record agent-customer conversations, but also use them to make predictions about how both parties will respond. Emotional changes in the agent’s vocal features can determine if the agent is speaking in an appropriate way to the customer, while emotional changes in the customer’s voice can determine a variety of outcomes, like if they’re likely to become a regular customer.

Selling Recommendations

BI tools can increase revenue by recommending up-sell and cross-sell opportunities to the agent in real-time. By considering the customer’s purchase history and buyer persona, combined with predictive voice analytics, the dashboard can alert the agent when a selling opportunity presents itself. Not only is it easier to sell to customers with a strong purchase history, but BI tools can also determine which products and services will be of most interest to the customer.

The contact center is generating helpful information every single minute. Data is regularly being collected, sometimes passively. With BI tools, supervisors can gather and review all pertinent data to see where improvements can be made.

5 Tips for Root Cause Analysis in the Contact Center

The best way to solve a problem is to dig deep and find out where it started in the first place. Often, what you see of a problem is a symptom, not the cause. Here are five steps you can take to improve your contact center’s root cause analysis.

  1. Consider acoustic issues.

Root-cause analysis should take acoustic factors into account. For example, if the call has long periods of silence, this could point to a problem with the system. If the contact center agent can’t access data quickly enough or if there are problems with IVR, a slow system may be the problem.

  1. Flag conversations that are abnormally long.

Speech analytics will let you sort through calls based on parameters like duration and repeated calls. You can also find calls where specific keywords are mentioned, like those that are normally associated with a complaint. This will let you know which calls need the most attention.

  1. Monitor data in real time.

Accessing real time data can help you spot and stop issues early. If a new sales or marketing strategy launches and then phone calls start coming in within an hour or two, you’ll know that there’s a problem with the launch that must be fixed. Real time data lets you identify trends as they emerge, giving you the opportunity to stop a problem in its tracks.

  1. Sort problems into categories.

As you start to uncover the main problems customers are having, you can segment them into categories, such as product defects, customer education and marketing communication. Then, you can meet with specific teams to come up with targeted strategies to solve the problems.

  1. Understand the context of the situation.

Relying on word count frequency isn’t enough – the terms and phrases that are being used have to be understood contextually, too. Knowing the context of a problem instead of just the hard data will allow you to pinpoint the situation that caused or contributed to it.

Knowing the average number of complaints your contact center receives on a weekly basis is just a start. You have to figure out the root cause of the complaints in order to effectively tackle them and prevent them in the future. Root cause analysis is a way to solve prominent issues instead of merely putting a Band Aid on them.

4 Trends that Improve the Customer Experience

When customer service teams want to differentiate themselves from the rest, they focus on improving and optimizing the customer experience. Companies are more than willing to go above and beyond for the sake of meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Here are four trends that will help distinguish your contact center.

Relying on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, from video games to the automobile industry. Customer service has been impacted by the increase in AI, too. This technology can be used to chat with customers about easy-to-solve issues, which frees up live agents for more difficult and complex matters. Automation with AI can reduce customer wait time, interact with customers and collect important data for the contact center to later analyze.

Implementing an Omnichannel Strategy

One major gripe that customers have is repeating themselves to various customer support agents in order to get an answer or have a problem solved. Channel integration isn’t the same as omnichannel service. Today’s companies can’t just respond to a customer, they have to know as much as possible about the customer and their problem beforehand in order to provide customized, relevant support. Customer service requires empathy and a human touch in order to connect meaningfully to the customer.

Analyzing Big Data

While much of the customer experience is about interaction and communication, big data still has a pertinent place in understanding customer behavior. Big data can actually help the contact center connect on a more personal level with customers. There’s so much information that can be tracked now, from customer behavior at every point of the journey to customer preferences regarding any number of attributes. Data helps customer support do things like figure out what a customer is going to want before they even ask for it and determine the best way to reach a customer on the channel of their choice.

Providing Real-Time Communication

Using things like AI, which can automate several processes, and ominchannel strategies, which can cut down on the length of time it takes to solve a problem, gives customer support agents the extra time to handle some queries personally. Real-time communication, specifically via mobile and social media, is in demand, especially by younger generations who are used to communicating in these ways. Being able to provide immediate support improves the customer experience and builds trust in customers.