Businesses are grappling with increasing economic and competitive pressures, which has forced them to re-evaluate technology investments and even cut back on spend. Often, customer service and contact centers are two of the first areas impacted. But is that really the best decision? Customer service is a critical part of customer experience (CX), and your attention to it can directly affect customer loyalty, brand fidelity, and more.
Let’s consider the current challenges and opportunities facing organizations today. Historically, agent burnout and turnover has been high within contact centers. In fact, the industry’s employee turnover rate remains more than double the average for all other U.S. occupations, with large call centers reaching over 50%. Not only does this impact your business’s bottom line, but it also forces current agents to fill the gap until new agents are hired and onboarded, further fueling the vicious burnout cycle.
Additionally, the transition to remote services has forever changed the contact center. Of course, it has changed how agents work, but it also impacted customer expectations. Ninety percent of leaders say that customer expectations have reached an all-time high. This can be attributed to several factors, including an increase in digital channels, as well as customer preferences for how they want to contact businesses and when.
Omnichannel flexibility has become paramount to maintaining customer and agent satisfaction, going beyond traditional channels like the phone. Now customers expect to be able to contact the brands they do business with via chat, email, self-service options, and even video. To deliver on those expectations and tap into customer insights from those interactions, organizations are adopting more AI-powered technology solutions than ever before. In fact, CallMiner’s 2023 CX Landscape Report found that half (49%) of surveyed senior CX and contact center decision-makers firmly believe that AI technologies will help them achieve greater efficiency to optimize their CX strategy when under financial strain.
Using AI to combine various customer data sources
Video communication has become increasingly popular amongst customers, with 36% of businesses using video as part of their customer contact toolset already, and 29% planning to adopt video as a customer communication channel in the future. Part of this shift has been fueled by the pandemic, but it also increasingly makes sense for customer interactions that might involve fixing a product remotely, for example.
The rise in video conferencing means there are now even more channels to understand what customers want, whether their needs are met, and how agents are performing. While these emerging channels are important to meeting customer expectations, interactions also do not happen in a vacuum – customers interact through various channels and at different stages of their journey, with video being one option.
Further, video by itself is often not as valuable as many assume. Yes, being able to see an agent’s screen or a customer’s reaction during a particular point can be valuable, but these considerations, taken out of context, can be a slippery slope. Emotions are naturally difficult to read, and there is often a disconnect between what is said vs. felt. Incorrect analysis can lead to inaccurate assumptions.
AI-powered solutions make it possible to combine data from video platforms, including screen capture, with customer conversation data across the enterprise, such as traditional contact center conversations, helping organizations gain a complete picture of patterns, emerging trends, and opportunities to improve CX.
Empowering (not replacing) contact center agents with AI
With the rise of tools like ChatGPT, there have been a lot of conversations around job elimination. What jobs are AI coming for? At least within the contact center, most conversations related to AI are in connection to agent augmentation, not replacement.
Still, this requires agents to trust the power of AI to support them in their roles, such as during conversations with customers, in coaching opportunities and more. CallMiner’s 2023 CX Landscape Report found that almost all (99%) of organizations believe AI adoption will become important for how their organization approaches CX in the future. Change is uncomfortable, but inevitable.
Organizations can start by capturing and analyzing 100% of agent-customer conversations across channels. Traditionally, agents have been scored on just 2-3% of interactions. What if an agent has a bad day and is graded on their worst call? In contrast, when organizations look to AI to monitor and score every conversation, they can establish a fairer and more accurate representation of the agent. Further, when agents feel their performance reviews are data-driven and objective, they become more open to using these newer technologies.
Additionally, supporting agents in-the-moment, such as during a difficult customer conversation, not only improves agent satisfaction, but it drives better customer outcomes. Imagine being able to remind an agent of a compliance statement they missed, or delivering a knowledge-base link that can help them service a customer who is at risk of churn. Scenarios like this make it clear that AI has more potential to help humans do more meaningful work, rather than replace them.
Overall, to serve customers’ needs, organizations need to be able to fully understand them. To do this, they can’t go backward on their customer service investments. Regardless of evolving economic factors and emerging competitive considerations, customer service remains a critical place where organizations can embrace technology to solve issues for agents and customers, and ultimately, improve the bottom line.