Pivot or Perish: Digitization and Automation is the Existential Game at Contact Centers?
Pivot or Perish: Digitization and Automation is the Existential Game at Contact Centers?

Over the last decade, contact centers have emerged at the forefront of B2C and B2B interactions. These contact centers are very different from traditional call centers, which reply to constantly ringing phones answered by a massive human workforce sitting in adjacent cubicles. Instead, the contact centers enable Omnichannel B2C and B2B interactions, i.e., via emails, social media messengers, live web-based chat, etc. The quality of these interactions directly impacts critical metrics such as customer experience, churn, top, and bottom line, etc. However, it is not easy to establish and maintain the contact center KPIs consistently, mainly due to increased interaction volume, workforce shortage and fatigue, cost pressure, etc. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) based automation helps businesses transform their contact centers to optimize cost and deliver on KPIs. As the adoption of automation solutions at contact centers grows, it will just be a matter of time (and no choice) when every business has to bring these solutions. Here’s why contact center automation will be necessary for the coming days:

Consumers Love it Fast and Accurate - Today’s customers have no patience for listening to various options on an interactive voice system, waiting in a virtual queue to speak to a business representative, only to get a half-baked response. A quick and effective resolution is bare-minimum that they expect for every brand interaction through the contact center. Automation solutions reduce turnaround time for several iterative interactions such as price or service inquiries. Thus, it has a direct positive impact on consumer experience. 

Automation also helps agents reprioritize their tasks as they can let the algorithm take care of iterative tasks and focus on solving more complex problems for consumers. This approach optimizes the resource allocation at contact centers. 

Provide Self-Service Opportunities - The tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Z consumers do not like the long process of calling a contact center executive who would give them a standardized answer after a long waiting period. They are relatively comfortable finding a solution for themselves on a self-service portal. An automated contact center provides them with this opportunity in a multichannel format. They can access tutorials, recorded videos, interactive response systems, or follow steps suggested by a chatbot. The platform also personalizes their experience to a great extent. 

Reduction in Operating Costs - Setting up and operating a contact center is a costly affair. Automation helps brands optimize this cost by reallocating the iterative pieces of interactions to the technology. As a result, a significant number of person-hours are saved. In addition, once deployed, bots do not get tired, lose concentration, or feel demotivated. So, a contact center can continue to provide its services 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Thus, consumers do not have to wait until work hours to reach out to the contact centers. 

Provides Flexibility and Scalability - The volume of interactions at the contact center fluctuates, depending on the industry. For example, an automobile company may experience increased queries during the Diwali festive season. In a different scenario, another wave of Covid-19 may simultaneously render some contact center agents unwell. As a result, it is challenging for companies to temporarily expand the contact center workforce to meet this seasonal requirement. On the other hand, in an automated contact center, chatbots and other AI automation features can easily be scaled up or down depending on the anticipated workload. Therefore, consumers receive a consistent experience in every situation. 

The above advantages of automation make it inevitable for brands to move to a technology-driven future. However, human interaction will continue to be an essential element of the customer service ecosystem. The idea of using a combination of AI-based automation and human touch is to provide a speedy, efficient, yet empathetic experience to consumers.  

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