As artificial intelligence has become a driving force for change in various industries, the call center industry is no exception. With its ability to mimic human intelligence and process vast amounts of data, AI is transforming the way call centers operate. A variety of AI technologies are being integrated into the call center industry, from Interactive Voice Response systems to chatbots and AI-assisted agents.
AI, simply put, is the theory and development of computer systems. These systems can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, like visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation.
The term is often used in a blanket way to include several different types of machine learning. Specifically, the generative AI segment of AI has been a major game changer in the last year. Up-and-coming new programs have helped people around the world create images, text, and audio with it. This AI creates an output based on the information put into it.
Generative AI is most attractive because it uses feedback from responses to output in order to handle complex inquiries better. Two factors have catapulted artificial intelligence into new realms. The largest advancement comes from the powerful punch now packed into computer hardware, allowing for better processing. Additionally, research into Artificial Neural Networks, computer systems inspired by human and animal brains, has allowed for more complex problem solving.
Considering all the advancements we’ve seen in the last year, you may be wondering, “How are call centers applying AI to their operations? ”
IVR and Better Matching
Traditionally, call centers have matched customers to agents based on their skill level or expertise. The most common way to route a caller is through the use of interactive voice recognition.
While IVR is technically AI already, historically it only utilizes Natural Language Understanding to give recorded answers to pre-determined prompts. IVR comes in two forms, one for verbal commands and another that requires pressing numbers, creating tones that act as prompts.
One of the biggest setbacks with IVR is that it relies on someone to build the system. It takes a team of experts to develop a complex program that covers all customer requests. Creating an effective IVR means having the foresight into the needs of your customer and constantly making manual changes to processes.
To cut down on these human errors, many contact centers have implemented AI with great success. One example is the ability to make interactive voice response (IVR) systems less frustrating for customers to use. We’ve all been known to press 0 or repeat “representative” in order to get to a live agent. The use of artificial intelligence in IVR systems has improved its ability to identify customers’ words, reducing the need for live agents.
Recently, some contact centers have taken predictive call routing a step further and began routing calls based on customer behaviors. By using AI, callers can be placed with an agent whose personality type best matches their own.
Chatbots and Better Responses
Chatbots, also considered AI, utilize Natural Language Processing to provide automated responses to text messages by customers through a web portal. This service assists in resolving straightforward queries promptly. It can even be utilized to gather additional information before a live agent joins a chat. These prompts save time by gathering relevant details, enabling agents to enter the chat well-prepared to address any customer inquiries.
Just like IVR, creating chatbots required a highly involved team dedicated to building predetermined paths. This requires foresight into the kinds of requests a customer may have and often leads to unused prompt responses.
Stronger AI-powered chatbots are becoming more common, leveraging technological advancements to handle more complex than a typical call and response. By using the latest developments in machine learning, chatbots are getting better at truly answering inquiries.
Historically, customers could submit simple inquiries, like account cancelation requests, to chatbots. They would receive a standard response or action, like confirmation of the account closure. With the advent of strong AI-driven chatbots, consumers can give more detailed information with their queries. This could include explaining the reason they would like to close their account, like new charges or rising prices. An AI-powered chatbot can offer several solutions, including deals, less expensive plan options, or an explanation of the new charge. This leads to less frustration and more control for customers before ever speaking to a live agent.
AI goes beyond being a tool for enhancing customer self-service. It can also provide significant benefits to agents in handling inquiries more effectively. Through various techniques, AI applications can actively listen to calls and offer real-time solutions for agents to offer. As a result, the process is streamlined and the workforce is reduced, allowing agents to focus on more complex tasks.
In addition to its other applications, AI has proven to be effective in monitoring customer satisfaction within call centers. Contact centers utilize AI to track specific customer interactions, allowing them to assess loyalty and satisfaction levels.
In the event that there are a certain number of negative interactions, an alert is sent to agents. They can then take additional measures, such as offering discounts or perks. This approach helps maintain customer engagement and fosters a positive connection between the two parties.
A Better Quality Assurance Process
AI can provide valuable assistance to call centers beyond customer-facing roles and tools. One area where new technology can be particularly beneficial is contact center management, specifically in quality assurance. By utilizing AI, customer interactions and service quality can be proactively monitored, providing timely feedback on areas for improvement.
AI-powered quality assurance systems use Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and semantic intelligence. They can monitor various forms of communication, such as calls, emails, and chats. This helps them to track customer intent.
These AI systems are capable of tagging specific moments within conversations as areas for improvement. In some cases, they may even offer helpful tips to agents on how they can enhance their performance. This advanced AI-driven quality assurance approach enhances overall call center operations and helps to consistently improve customer service.
The Potential of AI
The integration of AI technology holds immense potential for the call center industry. Smarter AI solutions can significantly enhance self-service options, reducing the reliance on live service and resulting in substantial cost savings. Real-time feedback from AI can also help reduce call times and improve overall efficiency.
Although early adopters are making huge technological advances and pioneering the field, adoption rates are still relatively low. However, the industry is buzzing with excitement about the revolutionary possibilities that AI offers.
To get connected with an outsource contact center utilizing new AI technology, contact our expert advisors for a no-charge consultation.