It’s crazy to think that just ten years ago, there wasn’t a single machine that could reliably use language at a human level. Now, we often talk to AI without even realizing it! AI and workflow automation are part of our daily lives. And they’re becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly in the customer service and contact center world.
AI systems today can determine if you get a loan. How much you pay for a flight. They can even help determine whether you get hired for a job. Some AI virtual assistants can help you program the software you use. And automation can even help you organize your grocery list by category (for real — have you used this iPhone feature yet?). The use cases for AI and automation are far-reaching, which is why they’re a key customer service trend in 2024.
A report from Gartner predicts that generative AI will transform customer service and support by 2028. It estimates that 80% of customer service and support organizations will use some form of generative AI in the next year to improve agent productivity and the customer experience. A study from UnitedCallCenters also revealed that 58% of residential customer support teams use AI to meet their service demands at a higher level.
To put it plainly, AI and workflow automation investments are essential to future-proofing your contact center. Now is the time to get on board the AI and workflow automation train if you want to stay competitive with your CX. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back. What even is workflow automation? And how can it transform your operations?
Workflow Automation: What It Is and What It Can Do for Your Operations
Let’s start small: what is a contact center workflow?
Imagine a typical day in a contact center. Calls, emails, and chat requests flood in, each waiting for resolution. You’re sifting through the inbox, trying to decide which ticket to prioritize and which agent to assign the next customer to. You assign your agent, Emily, an email to respond to. First, she has to dig through your CRM to find the customer’s history. With that context, she responds to the message. And then, she manually documents the customer’s contact information, the issue, and the resolution.
This is a workflow. Essentially, a workflow is a sequence of recurring tasks. These tasks are interdependent business processes that must be completed to reach a specific goal. In this case, it’s the process of handling a customer interaction.
Now, imagine that same process with automation sprinkled in.
As a ticket comes in, your workflow automation kicks into action. Interactions are automatically prioritized based on factors like urgency, customer profile, and issue complexity. The higher priority cases are flagged for immediate attention. Interactions are then auto-assigned and routed to the agent who is best equipped to handle the issue. Then, the agent helps the customer. But this time, instead of manually entering the information, the customer profile auto-fills, pulling context from the conversation into the documentation.
Workflow automation is designed to reduce some of the repetitive tasks in your contact center. With workflow automation tools, you can assign agents to queues and channels based on specific needs, track agent adherence for compliance, and even collect and store data. With the help of workflow automation, you can transform your operations.
Interested in learning more about streamlining your contact center operations? Let’s connect.
How AI Is Taking Contact Center Operations by Storm
In today’s contact center landscape, AI and workflow automation are critical to staying competitive. At least 80% of c-suite executives say they believe AI will fundamentally transform their organization’s workflows and how people do their jobs. Though workflow automation and AI differ, when they work in tandem, operational magic happens.
Here’s how AI takes workflow automation to the next level.
AI Enhances Operational Efficiency
AI transcends conventional automation by using machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics. While automation streamlines routine tasks like call routing, intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) engage customers in nuanced, human-like conversations.
Let’s say you have an automation set up to help you efficiently manage call volumes by directing queries to agents. But with AI, you can get even more efficient, using chatbots and IVAs to handle simple requests and direct customers to self-service tools. Your FCR improves, wait times decrease, and pretty soon you’ll be swimming in glowing reviews (seriously — just try it).
AI Empowers You to Solve Problems Proactively
The predictive power of AI is a game-changer for contact centers. With AI, you can analyze historical data to anticipate customer needs. Then, pair this with automation, and you can automate messages when certain needs or requirements are met.
With predictive analytics, agents are empowered with insights, so you can offer help before customers even know they need it.
AI Boosts CX Personalization
AI helps you deliver personalized experiences without leaning on an agent. These tools use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to decipher customer intent and history to offer tailored solutions. While workflow automation follows predetermined paths, AI can engage customers in dynamic conversations. This ensures personalized experiences and fosters stronger connections.
Using IVR and IVA to Your Advantage
Ok, so maybe you’re looking for a way to use workflow automation and AI-powered tools to stay on trend. Interactive voice response (IVR) and IVA are both powerful tools to improve operations. IVR is an automation solution that funnels customers through menu options, routing callers to the right department or agent to get the answers they need.
Just the other day, I had to call my doctor’s office. Their IVR menu guided me through multiple options, letting me select my doctor’s name and note that I needed to refill a prescription. Within minutes, I was talking to the right nurse who could help me. IVRs let customers bypass long waits. They efficiently handle high call volumes and, in effect, elevate the customer experience.
IVAs, on the other hand, are the epitome of AI integration in contact centers. IVAs simulate human interactions using AI capabilities like natural language understanding (NLU) and context analysis. This lets you provide seamless interactions that are instrumental in delivering personalized service at scale.
With IVR and IVA, you can:
- Improve efficiency and call handling. IVR streamlines call routing, minimizing wait times and directing callers to the right resources. IVAs take this a step further by engaging customers in human-like conversations. IVAs provide high-level help and problem resolution without adding strain to your agents.
- Offer 24/7 availability and stronger self-service. Both IVRs and IVAs ensure round-the-clock availability. They let customers access basic information and resolve common issues without needing an agent. This makes life more convenient for customers and reduces their dependency on live agents.
- Stay scalable and flexible. IVR and IVA solutions are scalable, adapting to fluctuating call volumes and evolving customer needs. IVR handles high volumes, while IVAs cater to complex inquiries. With both, you can build a dynamic and adaptable contact center.
Want to learn more about future-proofing your contact center operations? Schedule a demo with one of our consultants to learn more about our CCaaS offering.