Why automate your call center?

Today, running a call center is a difficult task. If you've never been to a contact center or call center, imagine this to put it in perspective: there's an office full of hundreds of agents and managers, answering tens of thousands of calls, emails and chats from thousands of customers. To take it a step further, agents are often new to customer service, have little to no professional training, and their average tenure is fourteen months. Agents are under pressure to resolve problems or requests quickly while dealing with angry or upset customers. To add to the challenge, customer service departments strive to provide each customer with the best possible experience. So how and why should you automate your call center, you ask?

This article explains contact center automation, why it's important to start thinking about automation and what the different automation alternatives are. We follow a step-by-step process of automating call centers with artificial intelligence and demonstrate real, concrete use cases.

    • What is contact center automation 
    • Why automation is important 
    • Alternatives for automating your call center

What is the purpose of automating your call center?

Call center automation is about performing repetitive tasks using technology including AI.

This can be full call automation or semi-automation by increasing the efficiency of human agents. The most advanced call centers use AI-powered solutions with natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU) and speech recognition models for a complete call automation .

Why is automating your call center important? important?

Automating your call center has become especially critical during the Covid crisis. According to CGS research, 74% of CX managers reported a significant increase in inquiries to their contact centers during the pandemic. This resulted in longer hold times, higher call abandonment rates and lower first contact resolution (FCR) rates.

While a sudden increase in call volume has a temporary effect, it can happen to any organization at any time simply because of a new service, a change in policy, a technical failure or even a merger of two organizations. No one can predict the occurrence of all of these situations, but companies should definitely be prepared for a sudden increase in customer demands or a planned scale-up of the business.

High call abandonment rate

A high call abandonment rate can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, as some of the customers trying to reach the call center may want to buy something. For example, in our experience, a 20% abandoned call rate actually costs 2% of potential sales opportunities, because on average 10% of abandoned calls were sales related. Of course, this number can vary from niche to niche, but call abandonment is certainly an issue that needs attention.

Poor customer experience

From a customer perspective, long wait times can negatively impact the customer experience. No one wants to wait several minutes on the line until they are connected to a virtual agent and a bad experience certainly leads to higher churn rates.

Cost optimization

Cost optimization is another argument in favor of automated customer interactions. The cost of a contact in developed countries can range from 3 to 10 euros per contact and sometimes even more. Just imagine the effect on a contact center handling 100,000 calls per month and spending 300,000 euros. So what could be the potential cost optimization if AI could automate 40% of the calls? We're talking hundreds of thousands per year.

Alternatives for automating your call center

There are several alternative automation processes that can be integrated into a contact center. In theory, all of these mitigate the typical contact center problem of long wait times.

    • Callbot powered by AI to simplify your IVR . As customers, we don't like too many options when we reach a contact center, and customer service managers understand this, so they simplify. There are usually three, but there can be as many as ten options. The goal is to get the customer to the right agent as quickly as possible. However, customers wait an average of 2.4 minutes on the line before being connected to the right agent. Whether this happens because of a complicated IVR structure (as in, 30% of the time, customers press the wrong button) or simply because of a customer clicking the wrong button, it all leads to poor customer satisfaction and a high abandoned call rate. The Callbot then seems to be the best alternative. See article on Callbots.
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    • Chatbot powered by AI that could potentially solve most customer queries. However, a chatbot cannot be an ideal solution and alternative to a contact center, simply because 53% of consumers still prefer to call, rather than text, a virtual agent or chatbot. The contact center manager of a large Northern European bank noted that he did not experience an immediate reactiondecrease in customer contacts after introducing live chat on their website. As a result, the volume of customer contacts increased after deploying live chat, while the number of customer service agents remained the same.
      Discover our Chatbots

    • An FAQ system system that would allow customers to find the necessary information on their own without having to contact a call center. The problem is that on average only 9% of customers who use self-service actually solve their problems, which again leads to lower customer satisfaction and more inquiries.
    • Hire more call center agents. Well, some organizations think that opening a new contact center and hiring more people could change the status quo. However, there are some issues you need to consider before choosing this option.

First, pay attention to the agent turnover factor, which is considered the number one challenge for contact centers. Since agents often need to know the answers to hundreds of different questions, the cost of training staff is high.

Second, managers do not have the proper tools to monitor the quality of actual conversations with customers, as they only have the ability to select random calls to listen to. When you have several hundred agents in a contact center, monitoring quality becomes mission impossible.

The two factors mentioned lead to a situation where it is difficult to maintain the service level agreement. Especially because new employees are constantly coming in and it takes an average of 6 months of work experience and training to be well prepared to actually solve customer problems. Considering that the average agent turnover is fourteen months, this becomes a real challenge.

An example of call center automation is worth more than 1000 words: 

Energy - Request for information on off-peak and peak hours

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Would you like to know more? Do not hesitate to contact us.