Posted by Dan Burgin, Sr. Director, AI Omni-Experience Practice on Sep 20, 2022 10:00:00 AM
The satisfying potential of contact center automation that solves your customers’ needs.
As consumers, we are all familiar with the pain of calling customer service.
You’ve purchased a really great product or service. You’re excited for it to arrive at your door, or for your newly purchased service to get set up. But far too often, this is when your customers start to have problems.
The product arrives broken, or you can’t get it to work as expected. What do you do? You dig through the website or packaging to find the Contact Us phone number.
This is where customer pain starts.
You set aside an hour, take a deep breath, and cross your fingers that you dial the right phone number. What other choice do you have?
Your call is probably answered by an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. You know the ones: If you’re a new customer, press 1. Existing customers, press 2. If it’s a decent one, it will identify and even authenticate that it’s really you who is calling.
Then, the grainy, outdated hold music starts, and you have no choice but to listen to it—that elusive agent you’re waiting for could answer at any moment.
You know, it sounds something like this:
Your call is very important to us, please remain on the line and the next available agent will help you - HOLD MUSIC. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Your pain and annoyance with the brand is increasing with each passing minute. Your loyalty as a customer? Decreasing at the same rate. And this is all before you’ve even gotten to speak with a representative.
Finally, an agent answers with the dreaded phrase: “How may I help you?” Invariably, this makes you wonder how they don’t know more about you.
They have your phone number from caller ID. You entered your order or customer number in the IVR. You were identified and authenticated by the IVR. You might have even identified the problem you were having to the IVR.
But after all that, this agent seems to know nothing about you or your problem. And worse, the agent insists that they must authenticate you all over again. You haven’t even started to resolve your problem and your pain level is already at 9 out of 10.
No wonder contact center agents are so hard to hire and retain. They start helping a customer who often is already annoyed.
The Contact Center Conundrum: Conversations Without Context
Since COVID-19 and the great resignation that came about in 2020 and 2021, contact centers have had a hard time finding and retaining agents.
This frequent agent turnover in a contact center leads to very expensive training costs, but worse, it means that call holding wait time is getting longer, and more painful, for customers. Even after reaching a human, customers are faced with a new frustration: starting from scratch with an agent who doesn’t recognize them, or their problem. What was the point of the IVR then?
This pain hurts brand loyalty, and future purchases might be reconsidered as your customers remember what you put them through last time.
Don’t think this pain is hurting your business and damaging your brand? Consider the following:
- A Salesforce Survey in 2021 found that “7 out of ten of consumers say their brand loyalty is influenced by their ability to get customer service at any time.”
- An Arena CX Survey in 2022 found that “56% of consumers said they would pay more for a product if it guaranteed excellent customer service.” Further, “69% of consumers surveyed had abandoned a brand because of a negative customer service experience."
Connecting to Customers with Conversational AI
For a brand-changing experience, you need a Conversational AI front door to your support centers. It all starts with designing a 24/7 virtual agent automation that really works. Automation that can solve a customer’s problem without the need for a human agent.
With an Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA), your customers can ask questions in their own words, and jump around to other topics as they would in a real conversation. No longer beholden to an IVR’s menu hierarchy, these interactions can get right to the point in a single utterance.
An IVA can understand whether a customer needs to speak with a human agent by identifying a caller's intent—what is the reason for the call? If the IVA can’t handle the request itself, it will connect the caller to the right queue for agent assistance.
When agents accept a work item, they’ll see the complete transcript of that AI-to-Customer interaction, whether it took place over voice, text or chat. If the last intent was not resolved by the AI, human agents build off the IVA’s work by doing the following:
- Greet the caller by name—after all, they have already been identified and authenticated by the IVA, so you know who they are
- Ask the caller if that last intent still needs to be resolved
- If so, the agent should pick up where the AI left off, and avoid repeating any questions that have already been asked
It should sound something like this:
“Hello Dan, I see our virtual agent identified you and tells me you are having a problem setting up the new service you purchased from us. Is that how I might assist you today?”
That personalized greeting alone will shorten agent handle time by 30-60 seconds in most contact centers (a massive savings of time when multiplied by all the calls your contact center receives each day). This shortened handle time is not only more satisfying for your customers, but it will also free that agent to handle MANY more customers that day and raise your customer satisfaction all at once.
But the ideal situation is for your customers not to need a human agent at all. This requires the last ingredient to effective AI Automation.
Imagine an iterative, unending optimization process from an automation design expert, who makes your virtual agent handle 70%, then 80%, then 90% and more of your customer issues, 24 hours a day, on any channel, without the need for a human agent.
This approach results in fantastic customer experience, higher customer satisfaction and MUCH lower cost of service.
Given that agents account for almost two-thirds of the cost of a contact center, you can pass those savings on to your customers in the prices they pay, and/or increase your margin per sale.
All of that and more is available right now in C1ConversationsTM from ConvergeOne, your already trusted partner in contact center communications equipment. Let us raise the bar for your customer satisfaction while lowering the cost of care in one customer-satisfying, cost-saving engagement that runs on your existing contact center investments, in your own custom cloud solution.
Schedule a free demo to learn more about C1Conversations.