The contact centre remains one of the most important parts of a firm’s customer experience strategy, as it’s often the most likely way consumers will directly interact with a business. Therefore, it’s vital the process leaves a good impression.
However, too often, complex, confusing or repetitive processes frustrate users, and result in resolutions taking too long and involving too many steps, which will put businesses at risk of losing customers.
Therefore, firms must look to modernise these operations and take advantage of the latest technology. And one area that will be particularly useful in the contact centre in the coming years is artificial intelligence (AI).
Reimagining the chatbot
AI is set to become a prominent part of many aspects of our lives over the next decade, whether we’re aware of it or not. But in the contact centre, there are already several places where this technology is making its mark.
One of the most prominent is in reimagining what the chatbot is capable of. These tools have been around for a while now and can be a useful option for dealing with simple queries. But they can also be costly and time-consuming to program and may still only offer limited responses and require very specific user inputs.
With AI, and in particular tools like natural language processing and machine learning, the humble chatbot can be transformed. These tools give people the ability to interact with these services in a much more natural way and ensure they can handle a much wider range of queries without human intervention.
This frees up human agents for more complex enquiries and ensures people can resolve more issues quickly, without having to wait in queues. However, it will still be important to ensure that, if needed, a human agent can seamlessly step in and pick up the conversation in the same chat box should the limits of its capabilities be reached.
A more proactive contact centre
Another key use of AI is in making the contact centre more proactive, and this can manifest in a number of ways. As is the case with chatbots, implementing natural language and machine learning elements into systems can be hugely helpful for improving many channels, but this is only the start of what AI can offer to make operations more proactive.
For instance, a common use for these tools is when customers get in contact via phone, as natural language processing software can replace traditional – and often frustrating – IVR services with more effective call routing solutions. If customers are able to explain their issue simply in their own words, AI tools can use this to determine where to direct their call, ending fixed routing trees that may require customers to go through several options before reaching the most relevant agent.
Meanwhile, predictive tools can be used to better understand customers’ intent and offer agents the most appropriate data and course of action quickly, or even suggest the most likely upselling opportunities based on past interactions and their previous history.
Another option could be to integrate the contact centre with Internet of Things sensors contained in the products offered to customers. This could, for example, then be used to schedule maintenance or alert businesses to potential failures in items before they occur, letting the contact centre take the first step and get in touch to arrange remedies before the customer even knows they have a problem.
These are just some of the many ways in which AI can be integrated into the contact centre. It’s still relatively early days for the technology, but those that invest well and find innovative uses for it will be able to offer the best possible customer experience across all channels.
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