Customer Service

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Contact Center Automation: Tools to Scale and Improve Customer Experiences

Jenna Alburger

November 16, 2021

Contact center automation helps scale and improve customer experiences. Right now, contact centers are facing higher call volumes, new pressures, and changing work-from-home situations. Thankfully, automation is helping them adapt and meet these new demands. 

contact center automation desk

Table of Contents:

What is contact center automation?
Key benefits of contact center automation
Why is automation needed in contact centers?
Contact center automation tools
      Conversational applications
      Chatbots
      Cloud-native automation
      Real-time transcription
      Robotic process automation
5 secrets to scaling and improving customer experiences with contact center automation
Contact center automation companies

What is contact center automation?

Contact center automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in contact center processes. It increases efficiency, reduces costs, improves accuracy, and frees up human resources for higher-value work.

Though, the goal of contact center automation is not only to improve efficiency. Instead, it’s a key tool in improving customer experiences. 

Key benefits of contact center automation

There are many benefits of contact center automation. Below are 5 of the top business benefits and areas of impact. 

1. Drives operational efficiency

  • Reduces average handle time (AHT)
  • Reduces time to resolution
  • Improves first contact resolutions

2. Helps managers meet service level agreements (SLAs)

  • Improves average speed of answer
  • Reduces abandon rates
  • Provides better insights and SLA tracking

3. Improves customer satisfaction

  • Faster response times
  • Reduces average time in queue
  • More self-service options
  • More contextual experiences

4. Improves agent satisfaction and reduces employee turnover

  • Reduces repetitive and mundane tasks
  • Encourages creative problem solving
  • Frees up humans for higher-value work

5. Drives customer loyalty and revenue

  • Decreases customer churn
  • Reduces customer acquisition costs
  • Improves net promoter scores

Why is automation needed in contact centers?

Contact center automation is no longer a “nice to have.” Customer expectations are at an all-time high, making the customer experience more important than ever. 

As a result, contact centers are getting a well-deserved promotion from cost center to profit driver. Business leaders recognize that to be truly omnichannel, they must empower their contact center teams and give them the tools they need for success. 

1. Customer expectations are at an all-time high

  • 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company. (Microsoft)
  • 58% of American consumers will switch companies because of poor customer service. (Microsoft)
  • 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same thing. (Salesforce Research)
  • Roughly 50% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience. (Zendesk)

2. Contact centers face new pressures as customer experience takes center stage

With customer experience in the spotlight, business leaders are increasing the pressure on contact centers. The expectations of their customers are rising, so it’s only natural that their expectations for contact centers are rising too.

In addition, business leaders are taking a hard look at key success metrics. They’re placing a greater emphasis on metrics related to customer satisfaction, as opposed to just those related to operational efficiency. 

3. The effects of the pandemic are still lingering

Lastly, contact center automation is helping businesses deal with the lingering effects of the pandemic. Issues like: 

  • Unprecedented call volume
  • Staffing challenges
  • Tech-related work-from-home issues

With brick and mortar locations closed, call centers faced unprecedented call volumes. And although most physical locations are now open, behaviors are not likely to go back to pre-pandemic norms. Automation is helping handle this increased volume, without having to hire new employees. 

In addition, automation is helping contact centers move towards more sustainable work from home models. It’s driving better communication, collaboration, autonomy, and engagement. It’s also helping businesses offer employees more flexibility, which has become an important factor in employee retention. 

Contact center automation tools

Conversational applications

Contact center leaders use conversational applications to orchestrate contextually relevant experiences across complex journeys. Conversational apps are custom solutions that integrate with your tech stack, communication channels, and other tools that you use to keep your contact center running smoothly. 

Companies use conversational apps to build branded experiences inside of the channels that their customers already use (like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram). With them, businesses can build rich, multimedia experiences to help customers buy products, return items, get technical support, or do anything else they would normally do on a traditional app or website.

conversational application UI

Essentially, conversational apps serve as hubs for omnichannel communication. They provide an important framework for contact centers to deploy chatbots, automate workflows, and use the rest of the tools on our list effectively. 

automation with whatsapp

Chatbots

We know; chatbots have a bad reputation. But they’ve come a long way since they first came on the scene. Today, good chatbots are more like smart conversational agents. They can recognize intent, add context, and make experiences more valuable (instead of more frustrating). 

In fact, modern chatbots can predict customers’ needs based on their past conversations, purchases, or browsing behaviors. They can cross-sell and upsell products, solve issues faster, and generally make customers happier. 

Chatbots integrate with conversational applications, CRMs, and other tools. They can fetch information from a database with customer or account information. For example, your call center chatbot can help track a shipment, send order confirmations, and much more. 

Cloud-native automation

As the number of customer communication channels increases, it becomes harder for agents to manage. They must sort through multiple data sources and systems before they have the information they need to respond. 

Cloud-native automation connects data and automates manual processes, empowering agents to solve problems faster. Instead of scrambling to find account details and order history, cloud-native automation helps agents access the information that they need quickly. 

Real-time transcription

Though many contact centers are trying to steer customers towards digital channels, the phone still remains an important part of doing business. Real-time transcription gives contact centers more insight into if those phone calls are successful, and how they can be improved. 

Real-time transcription turns voice calls into text transcription, which makes it possible to use analytics and other tools to look for patterns in the data. 

Robotic process automation

Forrester defines robotic process automation (RPA) as a tactical, short-term fix to digitize common, reproducible agent tasks in the contact center. It’s an easy overlay to your existing technology ecosystem and extends the life of the contact center applications.

There are two forms of RPA: 

  • Attended RPA is defined by human-bot collaboration. They are like virtual assistants, helping an individual employee with their tasks to boost productivity.
  • Unattended RPA runs independently, scheduling back-office tasks, such as claims processing or generating invoices, from a work queue.

Essentially, RPA helps automate mundane, manual processes (like data entry). This allows the agents and employees to focus on their core competencies and work to make experiences better. 

5 secrets to scaling and improving customer experiences with contact center automation

1. Go digital-first and human when it matters

The evolution of digital channels has made life easier for both call centers and customers. Immediate, always-on service via native channels is a win-win. However, it’s important to remember that while a digital-first approach is important, it’s also critical to include a human touch where it matters. 

The goal of contact center automation should be to make human interactions more meaningful, not to eliminate them. 

2. Prioritize metrics related to customer experience

We know that customer experience is key to success in 2021 and beyond. The more you can understand the relationship between operational metrics and customer experience metrics, the better. 

Ultimately, the metrics listed below will be key indicators of success:

  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Retention Rate
  • Customer Churn Rate
  • First Contact Resolution (FCR)
  • Customer Referral Rate

3. Make sure you have the right technological foundation 

Without a doubt, technology can make or break a modern call center. You’ll need to adapt and try new software to stay ahead of the curve. However, it’s critical that you have the right framework to build on top of.

A cloud-based conversational platform is a good foundation for future success. It will serve as the hub from which you can connect new tools, adapt, and deploy new conversational experiences. 

If you are lacking the right technological framework, now is the time to correct it in order to avoid even more long-term challenges. 

4. Support and motivate agents

The idea of contact center automation can be daunting for employees. Many assume that they will soon be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. 

For that reason, it’s important to share your goals with employees. Namely, that automation is here to help empower them to make deeper connections and focus on what they do best. 

5. Use data to better understand customers

Lastly, it can be easy to run with assumptions of what customers want and need. As you embrace contact center automation, it’s important to embrace new data for better decision-making. 

What customers expect will likely differ depending on the channel, business, and stage of the customer lifecycle. So, make sure you segment your data appropriately for more actionable information. 

Contact center automation companies

At Hubtype, we know that managing a contact center is complex, as is the technology that’s needed to make it run well. Our conversational platform is built to address the challenges of modern contact centers, automate conversations meaningfully, and make customer experiences better.

Book a demo to find out more about Hubtype, and how our technology sets contact centers up to compete in a rapidly changing world. 

building the contact center of the future

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