How Conversational AI is Transforming the Contact Center in 2021

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How Conversational AI is Transforming the Contact Center in 2021

Technology has revolutionized the call center industry to the point that its name has even changed. The old call center many envision is a windowless office alive with chatter and infinite rows of cubicles occupied by be-headsetted agents handling sales and customer service calls. Today it’s more commonly known as the “contact center”, as the agents are multi-tasking magicians, handling live chat, email, SMS, as well as phone calls. 

Today, the gray office park monoliths filled with chatty agents are more frequently being replaced by remotely-managed workforces that field calls and chats from home. Even pre-pandemic, as much as 60% of contact center employees worked from home. And a recent J.D. Power survey indicates that over 70% could be working from home after pandemic restrictions are removed. 

This will make cloud-based, AI-powered contact center tools even more prevalent and important as the old on-premise solutions previously favored by the contact center hit the dustbin because they are often unsuitable for remote contact center operations. Here are a few ways that AI will continue the contact center transformation in 2021. 

More Efficient Call Handling With Smart Routing and Better Customer Journey Context

While customer service scores remained the same or even increased during the last year, this JD Power study found that average call handling time increased for 55% of companies. 

Inefficient call handling is frequently caused by calls being routed to the wrong agent or department. This is because the contact center usually doesn’t have any visibility into customer journey data and calls just get bucketed into sales or service no matter where they originated. So agents who should be speaking with potential customers are spending time transferring calls and answering questions that should be handled by support, leaving valuable leads hanging on hold, or worse, hanging up and calling your competition. 

Conversation intelligence platforms like Invoca can integrate digital buying journey and marketing data to automatically route calls to the right agent at the right time. For example, Invoca’s integration with Five9 cloud contact center software improves customer experiences by enabling agents to offer more personalized sales interactions and dynamic call routing that reduces friction in the buying journey. By integrating data from the digital experience — like specific product interest or buying intent — with Five9, businesses can immediately route calls to the best-equipped sales or support agent and inform the agents of the customer’s intent.

“With Five9 and Invoca, contact center agents can see what the customer has done online, empowering them to provide a more human, empathetic, and personalized experience,” said Walt Rossi, vice president of business development at Five9. “As more people seek human assistance after shopping online, getting this context is critical to efficiently provide the experience customers expect.”  This enables more efficient and personalized call handling, leading to improved customer experiences and close rates, which can be further improved by using AI to score your calls. 

Boost Conversion Rates with Unbiased, Data-Based Call Scoring

Call scoring is one of the most effective ways for contact center managers to spot problems and monitor agent performance. The first problem with traditional call scoring is that less than 2% of calls are usually scored, reducing your ability to reward and nurture high-performing agents and potentially leaving you blind to the low-performers and wide-ranging problems. 

The second big issue with manual call scoring is bias. The person doing the scoring may know the agents and give preferential treatment depending on how they perceive a particular agent. Beyond explicit bias and favoritism, humans are going to be humans and we’re just not great at objective analysis, especially when it comes to judging something as complex and nuanced as a customer conversation. What you end up with is subjective, incomplete, and inaccurate call scoring and a very inefficient process for improving agent performance. 

Contact center software that uses AI to analyze conversations solves both of these problems. First, every single call from every agent gets analyzed. This gives you an accurate picture of how all your agents are performing, and better yet, frees you from listening to thousands of phone call recordings. You can instead focus on seeing what makes a great call great and apply that to how you’re coaching lower-performing agents. This also opens the door to a wealth of gamification and objective, data-based incentive programs that drive your agents to compete with each other and hit their numbers. 

Since AI is handling the call scoring and analysis, you also reduce bias in the scoring process. Each call and agent are judged on the parameters you have set, and the AI isn’t going to like Jerome better than Lynsay just because he rides horses and enjoys jaunty cardigans.

Improve Customer Experience with Better Remote Agent Coaching

With more accurate call scoring, you enable better coaching, especially with today’s remote contact center models. While consumers are doing more research online, they require more assurance to be confident in their purchase decisions, and for many customers, this means calling your business. Contact center agents and managers need to be prepared to handle calls with customers who have a wider range of more complicated needs, which makes agent coaching more important than ever. 

Of course, you can’t walk around a remote contact center and listen to how agents are handling calls, and listening to recordings and looking at a sample of call scores to spot coachable moments sucks up all the time you should be spending coaching agents! 

AI-powered conversation intelligence tools for the contact center address these problems by analyzing all of the calls and enabling you to automatically flag calls and agents that require coaching. You could see that an offer wasn’t mentioned, a warm greeting wasn’t used, or that competitors are being mentioned, allowing you to quickly jump in after any call and chat with the agent 1-on-1 through the platform to help them handle calls more effectively. This also enables you to spot trends of calls being handled improperly that may require a wider training refresh. 

Using AI to coach contact center agents frees you from finding problems and allows you to focus on solving them. 

Improve Morale with Empowered Contact Center Agents

Eliminating bias in call scoring, providing useful feedback, and hooking agents up with fair performance incentives is just the start when it comes to improving agent performance and morale. Some newer AI-powered contact center analytics tools like Invoca for Sales are made to be used by and benefit the end-user: your contact center agents and managers. 

Old on-prem analytics may have been performed by some far-off department that analyzes calls. It’s not just cold having your feedback essentially come from a faceless data analyst (no knock to data scientists, I know you have faces and I like them!) but the process is slow and the agents are far disconnected from the process. With conversation intelligence platforms like Invoca, the agents can analyze their own call performance, see their scoring much more quickly, engage with fellow agents and managers more easily, and feel more involved in their own success. 

Happier, more engaged agents will reduce your contact center agent turnover, increase performance, and your customers are certain to feel the smile when they start a conversation with an empowered agent.   

Drive Contact Center Efficiency by Eliminating Data Silos With Marketing

By connecting contact center data with marketing you not only improve the customer experience, but both departments will see increased performance by coordinating their efforts. 

AI-powered conversation intelligence software like Invoca enables marketing and telesales teams to break down data silos and work more effectively together. 

When marketing can get real-time conversion data from the contact center, they can use that to optimize the campaigns that are driving the highest value leads to the contact center. Better yet, marketing can spot campaigns or even issues on the website that are driving costly service calls to the sales center. And this is a totally hands-off approach for the contact center—you never have to go tell someone in marketing that they’re pounding you with unqualified callers because they have the data in their hands. 

The contact center gets more context from the digital journey so they can provide a more personalized experience for the caller. They know what product they are interested in, what landing page they came from, and whether or not they’re a returning customer, allowing them to handle calls more efficiently.

When marketing coordinates with the contact center, you’ll also be better prepared for promotions that could cause call volume spikes. This assures that you’ll be staffed appropriately and have scripts prepared to convert the throngs of promotion-heated leads coming your way 

The result of using AI and conversation intelligence in the contact center is happier customers, higher conversion rates, and lower costs. What more do you want, free ice cream? 

Schedule a free demo to learn more about how Invoca Active Conversation Intelligence can improve your contact center performance and we’ll see what we can do about the ice cream! 

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