Call centers work in an extremely competitive industry, so they need to adopt every tool that will give them an advantage. Over the last few years, artificial intelligence (AI) solutions have become increasingly common in modern call centers. When AI solutions improve call centers, owners and managers are eager to invest in the technology.
If you’re unsure whether AI is the right option for you, take a few minutes to learn about the features and benefits the technology can give you.
AI Integrates With IVRs
Call centers have relied on Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software for years. The software became a key call center tool because it helps route incoming calls to agents who have the right skills to solve the customers’ problems. For example, a customer calling to ask about a billing issue will get directed to a representative with the training and authority to make necessary changes to the account.
Deciding who should receive a customer’s call isn’t always easy, though. Consider how many options a customer needs to consider when calling a cable or internet provider. A new customer might not know anything about the service packages. Does that person’s call get directed immediately to the sales department, or should the IVR send it to a customer service rep with a softer touch? Does the customer even know whether they want to learn about cable, internet, or both?
Traditional IVR systems will struggle to answer complicated questions. It simply doesn’t have the “intelligence” to decide who gets the call. Unfortunately, making the wrong decision could make the potential customer feel frustrated. A bad first impression could even mean that the service provider loses that customer to a competitor with a more intuitive system.
AI solutions add a level of decision-making that makes it possible for an IVR to function more efficiently. Instead of upsetting callers by shuffling them from agent to agent, it can make a smarter decision that routes the incoming call to the correct person and gets the job done more efficiently.
AI Offers Voice Pattern Detection
During face-to-face communication, people take a lot of visual cues from each other. If someone looks away while you talk, you know they’re not interested in what you’re saying. If they fold their arms and stare at you, then they’re probably getting upset.
Voice patterns offer similar cues about what a caller wants and feels. Call center agents, however, can’t always identify these cues. Imagine, for example, that you grew up speaking English in Florida. One day, a caller who grew up speaking Spanish in Mexico and learned English while living in Texas comes on the line. Dialects between states and regions in the US can vary. The differences in your accents, speaking patterns, and word choices could lead to misunderstandings.
AI can learn voice pattern detection that scans cadence, tone, and other factors to identify the caller’s mood. The system’s algorithm can give the agent real-time updates on how the customer feels throughout the call. This information helps the call center agent direct the conversation to reach an agreeable resolution. With the right AI, training, and scripts, employees can become considerably more effective at making customers feel positive about the call.
AI-Powered Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) Solve Minor Issues Easily
Most people have interacted with chatbots on websites. The AI technology that powers chatbots hasn’t been perfected. There’s still work to do. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them to solve common issues, though.
AI-powered IVAs can reduce the load that call centers have to handle. The more requests the chatbot can process online, the fewer calls customers make. When chatbots work well, you get more from your call center agents. They don’t have to spend time performing simple tasks. Instead, they can focus on building relationships and addressing more complicated issues that require human intervention.
Since AI can direct calls to the correct agent, you get even more value from your employees.
Your call center can go beyond chatbots. Voice-powered IVAs make it easy for customers to get information, schedule appointments, and request information without speaking to an employee.
You probably already have a lot of data about your customers. When someone calls, you see the incoming number. As long as the number is connected to an account, no one needs to ask the customer for his or her phone or account number. You don’t even need to ask for a name. Instead, an automated voice system can identify the account and greet the person by name. If your system doesn’t recognize the number, then the call gets routed elsewhere.
Virtual agents function like chatbots that can speak and hear. Customers that prefer using their phones can breeze through prompts to get what they need.
Benefits of Using IVAs: Summary
The benefits of using IVAs instead of relying solely on employees quickly become apparent. You will likely notice that your call center benefits from:
- Reduced hold times
- Decreased missed chats
- Shortened average handling times
- Increased accurate responses
- Improved customer experiences
You make your call center more efficient by letting AI make decisions without human direction. Even if it only works perfectly 90% of the time, you still get enormous benefits.
Balancing AI Integration With Human Agents
One day, AI integration could become so effective that you don’t need human agents. Don’t count on that day arriving soon. Your call center will need to balance AI solutions with human agents for many years.
You don’t have to think of this as a bad thing. Some people prefer talking to other humans on the phone. They don’t want to hear a computerized voice. When one of those customers calls, they can skip the virtual agent and get sent directly to an employee.
Currently, call centers are pretty close to having the best of both worlds. AI can handle a lot of your incoming calls. When it can’t, it swiftly connects customers to agents who have the information they need to lead the conversation to a happy solution for the caller.