Call Center Automation Adaptation: Balancing Technology with Live Agents
With technology’s role in customer service growing, call center automation adaptation is essential. What’s the right balance between automated and live service?
We’re in an era when automation is increasingly taking hold in call centers — and for good reason! Automation allows businesses to cut costs by reducing the amount of labor used on tasks that are just as effective when automated. And customers are often happy with the convenience of avoiding lengthy phone calls whenever possible by resolving their issues via the quick click of a button.
At Working Solutions, our decades of call center experience have convinced us that intuitive, self-service automation is essential for a successful high-volume contact center. However, we also understand that this can go too far. How, then, should a call center approach automation adaptation — in other words, what balance should be struck between automation and the use of live agents?
Call Center Automation Adaptation Tip #1: Automating Agent Recruitment
At a certain level, automation has already proven itself to be popular with customers. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are examples of automated customer service tools that are already household names, used by millions of people for simple day-to-day transactions like buying groceries or looking up quick facts.
And, as Kristin Skiko writes in an exploration of call center agent recruitment for the Working Solutions blog, those same tech-powered shortcuts can be employed in the onboarding of customer service agents.
“Technology has made it so simple to automate processes that were once done by people and recruiting is no exception,” she explains. “One-way interviews and online assessments make it possible to hire without ever interacting one-on-one with the candidate.
Technology has made it so simple to automate processes that were once done by people and recruiting is no exception.
Advances in technology offer the power to employ agents from all walks of life and all fields of experience, which can dramatically increase a call center’s ability to meaningfully interact with customers. “Need a tech support expert with medical background, who happens to be fluent in Portuguese? Widen the geographical net as far as possible to increase your chances of finding the perfect match.”
“Advances in technology offer the power to employ agents from all walks of life and all fields of experience.” Click To Tweet
In other words, automation adaptation isn’t always about interacting with the customer: For skilled call center managers, putting automated technology to the best possible use means using it to streamline basic operational services, as well as fielding customer interactions.
Call Center Automation Adaptation Tip #2: Know When to Go Live
Yet even given the clear advantages that technology offers for agent onboarding, there’s still no denying that the primary goal of call center automation adaptation involves a customer-centric attitude. To this end, many contact centers have seized upon the efficiencies offered by AI agents, or computerized agents powered by artificial intelligence and designed to simulate certain human interactions.
This goes beyond using services like Alexa and Siri to field basic requests from customers, and actually putting AI agents on the phone for inquiries and sales calls. Yet, perhaps needless to say, this approach isn’t always embraced by customers, who sometimes find AI agents impersonal and off-putting. Sometimes, the human touch is much more important than basic operational convenience.
“Customers expect to have their needs addressed quickly, but they also want empathy and to have their requests easily understood,” writes Steve Stover at VentureBeat. “Most importantly, they want to be quickly passed to a human agent if their concerns are too complex for the technology to process.”
“Customers expect to have their needs addressed quickly, but they also want empathy and to have their requests easily understood.” Click To Tweet
For call centers, that means putting artificial agents to use for basic tasks like fielding calls or directing inquiries to their proper channels. Yet it also means knowing when to switch those customers and prospects over to live agents — and not losing a moment in doing so.
“An overwhelming 88 percent of consumers surveyed said they expect a natural transition between automated self-service technologies, like voice-based virtual assistants, and a human agent when purchasing a product, placing an order, or contacting customer service,” as Stover points out. And in an era of instant gratification, customers are also quick to jump ship when they hit any level of frustration with your service.
Call Center Automation Adaptation Tip #3: Drawing the Line Between AI and IA
Yet how exactly can you tell when it’s time to shift customers to a live agent, before it’s too late? Knowing how to walk that fine line means understanding the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent agents, as Working Solutions Chief Marketing Officer Gail Rigler explains in a look at customer service trends.
Particularly for industries requiring more complex transactions like global travel booking or healthcare billing, AI can only go so far. Though it can get those customers through the early stages of the process, AI is often unsuitable for more complex workarounds, or “common-sense solutions” that an agent with long-time, real-world experience would understand.
To address more complex situations, “I find person-to-person prevails — be it a helping hand, calm voice or cool head,” Gail writes. “It’s where seasoned service agents perform well. Why? Because their personal experience and insight exceeds any automated bot response or algorithmic-derived decision-making.”
Knowing where to draw that line often requires the expertise of professionals. If you’re intimidated by the prospect of getting this balance just right, it may be time to enlist the services of a proven expert with the experience and know-how to handle both the automated and personal aspects of customer service — and, perhaps more importantly, who knows how to fuse them together without alienating customers.
With a proven history of providing top-tier, on-demand call center services, Working Solutions has become the go-to choice for customer care outsourcing for a wide variety of businesses (including a roster of Fortune 500 companies).
Contact us and find out how we can help you better manage to balance in call center automatic adaptation.Let's talk!