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How artificial intelligence can power call centres during lockdowns

How artificial intelligence can power call centres during lockdowns

How artificial intelligence can power call centres during lockdowns
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By CNBC-TV18 May 30, 2020 8:51:13 AM IST (Updated)

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations have been forced to reckon with new challenges. This is especially true in the case of vertical organisations that regularly interact with a large customer base such as in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) or healthcare sectors.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations have been forced to reckon with new challenges. This is especially true in the case of vertical organisations that regularly interact with a large customer base such as in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) or healthcare sectors.

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The spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus has forced lockdowns of countries and has rattled the global economy. Traditional ways of managing customer experiences need to be re-examined under current circumstances. A recent Uniphore survey conducted in the US showed that consumers, overwhelmingly, prefer to use voice over every other medium when contacting a company’s contact center. The survey also highlighted that the long hold times during calls to a contact center are a significant pain point for customers and that they feel frustrated and angry when put on hold.
Government mandated building shutdowns have crippled call centres around the world. In these times, the volume of customer calls is increasing. With agents unable to come to work, archaic and inadequate IVR systems and bots have been unable to process the calls or address the information requirements of the customers reaching out to them. The dependence on legacy technologies has resulted in call centre agents struggling to migrate to remote working, which has created a Catch-22 situation in customer service. The call centres that are created to address customer needs are unable to do their job.
An emerging technology category known as Conversational Service Automation (CSA) has emerged as a pivotal element for contact centers. CSA essentially brings together Natural Language Understanding, Natural Language Generation and Natural Language Processing alongside, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, and biometric recognition to accomplish business goals.
Not only does it augment the efficiency and the quality of the contact center interactions (a huge cost-saving benefit), but also blends the capabilities of humans and technology to provide the enterprise with insights into customer and business needs which were never accessible earlier. The greatest benefits that have recently surfaced, however, are that it enables customer-care agents to work remotely, while allowing the company to monitor every interaction for compliance and quality.
One of the key learnings from the pandemic is that brands need to embrace an integrated approach to viewing customer care and essential customer-focused services. Organisations should cascade their desire to provide customers with the best-in-class product offering and service all the way down to the technology they use.
Customer expectations have increased and changed dramatically, as they want to be able to communicate with a brand across digital channels and it is important for them to feel heard and understood every single time they reach out to a company. During the times of uncertainty, it is even more crucial for them to be heard, when they need to be.
When properly set up and deployed, CSA capabilities can function as an intelligent assistant to the human agent. Automation helps create an integrated knowledge bank and guided workflows for the agents, so they always get precise and detailed data on a single screen when interacting with a caller. This goes a long way in accurately resolving a customer query and helping the agent to stay focused on the call, no matter what. The technology platform can automate a large portion of the tasks that an agent would have had to manually deliver — such as after-call summaries. This reduces the total time spent on a call thus assisting the agent to process a larger volume of calls, which is important for business efficiency and productivity.
As in times of past challenges, the new technology has emerged as a viable solution during this difficult time. Enterprises should take this opportunity to rethink their CX strategies and the technology that enables that, in order to be future-ready no matter what the next challenge brings. Contact centers can clearly function at optimal levels even during times of extreme circumstances such as COVID-19. With CSA, employees can work remotely while delivering excellent customer experiences and ensuring that all mandated compliances are met.
COVID-19 has been an eye opener and companies have realised that customer experience will be a huge determining factor for success. Forward-looking companies should take advantage of the technology innovation available to them and ensure they are prepared for any crises that come their way.
-Author, Umesh Sachdev, is the co-founder and CEO of Uniphore
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