Successful call centers rely on continual oversight and detailed scripting to reduce call times and maximize first-call resolution rates. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), these crucial goals can now be delivered at scale.
But the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace is a contentious issue. Yes, this fast-improving technology improves efficiency and drives innovation. But many believe this comes at the cost of human interaction. There are also concerns about AI’s impact on job security.
Implemented correctly, however, AI can help human call center workers to achieve their primary goals — customer satisfaction and sales growth.
How Artificial Intelligence Is Already Being Used in Call Centers
Call centers are already using AI to improve customer service and boost efficiency. Here are some of the most common uses:
Chatbots have been streamlining online customer journeys for years. Designed to handle the most common questions asked by customers, this early example of AI frees up live agents to deal with more complex, time-consuming issues.
Chatbots are there to answer basic, frequently asked questions. Often, they can resolve a customer query with no human interaction. They can also escalate issues to human operators when a simple answer isn’t available.
The most common questions include:
- How do I pay my bill?
- Can I return my item?
- When is this product back in stock?
- When will I receive my item?
- Can I reset my password?
The basic function of chatbots is to answer common questions. But AI technology is improving all the time. The more advanced chatbots can provide detailed explanations. They can also resolve customer complaints and perform basic administrative tasks.
Artificial intelligence combines with automated call distribution (ACD) to improve the speed and accuracy of call routing. The AI directs customer calls to the person or department best placed to deal with the issue. This improves the customer’s experience and frees up call agents to deal with the issues they’re trained for.
In recent years, call routing has become more intuitive. Natural language processing (NLP) allows call center systems to recognize the exact nature of a customer query. Instead of relying on a selection of scripted questions, customers can “talk” to the AI — either verbally or through a written message. And if the issue is too complex, the AI diverts the call to a human operator.
Data analysis is a labor-intensive, time-consuming process that can shift focus away from the immediate needs of customers. But call center AI can perform this task in the background. This has the potential to slash labor and administrative costs.
Imagine you’re trying to staff your call center for maximum efficiency. AI can monitor vast data sets over the past few years in search of trends and activity spikes. Utilizing metrics such as call length, duration, and seasonal variables, an advanced AI can create a trend map. It can then use that data to create an ideal staffing schedule that minimizes costs.
Automated data analysis is now being used to carry out a range of essential tasks, including auditing and overseeing security protocols. And when used in conjunction with natural language processing, it can identify common problems by looking for frequently used phrases. In a real-world setting, this might help you identify an ongoing problem with a particular product or service.
The success of a call center is often measured by monitoring key performance indicators, compliance, and customer service. Instead of managers spending hours at a time listening to their agents on calls, AI can listen for certain trigger words. The system can then target individual interactions or operators for further investigation.
Companies from many industries are already using AI to monitor calls for training purposes. When systems pick up problematic words or phrases, they report them for corrective feedback sessions later in the day. As a result, new agents can quickly improve their performance and rid themselves of bad habits.
Innovations in Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing is a constantly evolving technology that helps computers to understand human speech. NLP reads or listens to communications to derive meaning from the language used. The computer can then take the appropriate next steps, such as offering a solution or escalating the call to a human operator.
NLP can understand human language and use the information to provide services or solutions. Machine learning makes the process more intuitive. Interactive voice response (IVR) in call centers can respond to the verbal requests of callers to ensure the AI offers the most appropriate customer service solutions available.
When you call a bank these days, you usually have to interact with an NLP system before speaking to a human. A recorded voice asks you your reason for calling, and you have to articulate the reason. At the other end of the line is an AI, which listens, understands, and takes decisive action. The system might transfer you to a human, but there’s a chance the AI can deal with your query immediately.
How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Call Centers
Artificial intelligence isn’t a replacement for human call agents — it’s a powerful tool used by agents. AI boosts customer satisfaction and call center productivity. And while it’s not perfect, it’s improving all the time. Research and development continue apace. New innovations are helping call center managers and agents work more efficiently.
AI is performing more and more of the time-consuming, administrative tasks that have the potential to take call agents away from their customers. Call center managers are using AI to identify issues with customer service, products, and services. As a result, call center software can identify even the smallest of problems and address or escalate them before they can do any damage.
AI Works with Human Agents
Human agents and AI continue to work harmoniously together. This improves the customer experience and allows employees to focus on what’s important — addressing the specific concerns of your customers. And while call centers may one day operate without human agents, that change won’t happen any time soon.
CallTools can help you to boost efficiency and customer satisfaction in your business. We offer a range of innovative, AI-based call center software solutions. We can help you find the right balance between AI integration and your traditional workforce.