Which is more important, service that’s friendly or efficient? Of course we’d love both, but for argument’s sake, let’s say you have to pick just one. Which would it be? My vote: operational efficiency. For instance, it really doesn’t matter to me if my Doordasher is smiling when they deliver my food if they’re an hour later than expected. And, platforms like Amazon Prime and Target.com are insanely popular because most people don’t actually want to deal with people in a store. We just want our toilet paper delivered to our doorstep as soon as possible.
Consumers today value efficiency over nearly everything else — even a friendly smile from an agent. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 39% of consumers expect a response from a customer service team within a few hours. If brands don’t respond to inquiries by the end of the day, they risk frustrating their customers — or losing them altogether.
Salesforce found that nearly half (48%) of customers switched brands over the past year due to customer service. Improving your operational efficiency practices does more than just impress customers. It significantly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty.
So, how do you improve operational efficiency? More training? Clearer processes? These help, for sure. But to stay competitive with customer service trends, you need technology. More specifically, adding AI (I know — scary!) is essential to keeping up with customer expectations and driving a more efficient customer experience.
3 Examples of AI (and How They Benefit Your Customer Service)
To start, let’s look at three examples of AI tools in the contact center.
1. Chatbots and Virtual Agents
What it is: AI-powered chatbots and virtual agents use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) technology to understand and respond to customers using realistic human language. Once you get over how much it feels like you’re living in a sci-fi movie, embracing chatbots and virtual agents can transform your operations.
Chatbots and intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) can provide instant answers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus, customers don’t have to wait on hold for hours. This then frees human agents to focus on questions that actually need their input.
- 24/7 availability for customers
- Personalized customer experiences
- Increased agent productivity
2. Call Routing
What it is: Call routing uses AI to analyze incoming calls. Then, algorithms can determine which agent is best suited to handle the specific inquiry. AI can also gather customer analytics and funnel customers to the best agent for their specific issues. This eliminates the need for manual call transfers and reduces wait times. Plus, customers have a more streamlined experience because they’re instantly connected to the best agent for their questions.
- Enhanced operational efficiency
- Lower hold times and higher FCR (hello, higher CSAT)
- Cost savings and improved productivity
3. Predictive Analytics
What it is: Customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. But it’s not easy to predict what your customers want and need. With predictive analytics, you don’t have to sift through data trying to read the tea leaves.
Predictive analytics use an AI algorithm to detect patterns, identify trends, and offer insights. It can tell you details about your customers’ buying habits and your agents’ performance. Managers can use it to improve operational efficiency and identify customer behavior before it actually happens, so you can then provide proactive support.
- Optimized decision-making for better resource allocation and staffing
- Enhanced personalization for customers
- Forecasting to anticipate customer needs and offer proactive care
Want to learn more about boosting your contact center’s efficiency? Let’s chat.
4 Examples of How AI Improves Operational Efficiency
AI tools can improve customer satisfaction by making it easier for you to offer fast, effective, and personalized support. But the real impact is on your contact center operations. AI-powered tools can significantly improve operational efficiency. Here are four examples.
1. Automated Routing and Triage
AI streamlines call routing by categorizing queries by priority. With automated and AI-powered routing, customers are matched with the best-fit agent for their specific concerns without your intervention. This not only reduces wait times but also optimizes resource allocation. Agents effectively use their skills, and you reduce the amount of time spent assigning agents to tasks.
2. Improved Self-Service Portals
As many as 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to an agent. Self-service is a must, and AI can help you improve this experience. Using IVAs and chatbots, you can guide customers to their answers without involving a human agent. Implementing AI-driven self-service options enables customers to find solutions on their own. Plus, it frees your agents to focus on more complicated issues.
3. Better Workforce Management
Workforce management strategically organizes the productivity of employees so your resources are in the right place at the right time. A workforce management strategy typically includes scheduling, forecasting, skills management, and employee empowerment. The downside is that it gets more complicated when you want to offer a truly seamless omnichannel experience.
AI can simplify things by doing the heavy lifting for you. By analyzing performance data and predicting peak service hours, AI tools can create ideal staffing schedules and skills-based routing to optimize your ops team.
4. Enhanced Employee Training
Customer service training is essential to retaining customers for the long term. But customer loyalty isn’t the only benefit of a strong service team. Training your employees also reduces employee turnover and boosts engagement. I get that you may not have time between handling escalations, sitting in meetings, and ensuring you’re fully staffed. AI tools can help build training and coaching into your day-to-day.
Using call recordings and real-time assistance, AI can monitor and analyze customer interactions. This provides valuable insights for training and ensuring compliance with service standards. Chatbots can give tips and suggestions during interactions, mine recorded calls, and offer high-level summaries about where each team member needs additional support or training.
5 Reasons You Should Invest in AI and Automation for Your Contact Center
So let’s recap — AI is the future and will be an essential part of customer service and contact center operations. AI and automation give you:
- An enhanced customer experience. You can elevate your service quality with AI tools, leading to better CSAT and loyalty.
- Better cost efficiency. With optimized resource allocation and higher productivity, you can reduce operational costs.
- More scalability and flexibility. AI systems adapt to varying workloads, so you can easily scale operations. Plus, AI and automation can help you sustain service with fewer employees.
- A competitive edge. Customer service expectations are high. You can stay ahead by delivering faster, more personalized, and efficient customer service using AI and automation.
- Future readiness. Like I said — AI is the future. Embracing AI technology lets you align with evolving customer expectations and market trends.
Ultimately, integrating AI into contact centers isn’t just about operational efficiency. It’s about delivering exceptional customer experiences. Investing in AI and automation isn’t an option but a necessity to meet the ever-growing demands of today’s customers while future-proofing your business.
Learn more about how an omnichannel contact center platform like Broadvoice CCaaS can boost operational efficiency in your contact center. Chat with one of our specialists.