The call center industry is among the major economic contributors for Asian countries like the Philippines, India, China, and Malaysia. While we talk about the economic contribution of this industry, we must also consider the work environment that prevails at call centers. Working at call centers is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. The call center work environment is considered one of the toughest environments across the globe. So, what are the challenges faced by this industry?
Tackling irate customers, working on tight work schedules, sustaining tight budgets, adjusting to crazy work timings, and many more such challenges are faced on a daily basis by employees at call centers. Delivering the highest levels of customer satisfaction is considered a basic requisite in this industry. Most call centers are still using outdated analog systems and IVRs, which adds to the burden on employees. Some of the other challenges faced by this industry are: high attrition rates, dynamic customer expectations, low employee engagement, stagnated career growth, lack of multitasking abilities, and customer attrition.
Is technological disruption the need of the hour?
The call center industry is caught in the middle of technological disruption. Advancements in technology drive customer expectations to higher levels. The millennials are accustomed to technology-driven luxuries like omnichannel communication, 24X7 service availability, and task completion with a single swipe. The call center industry needs a major technology upgrade to meet increasing customer expectations. The 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report shows the way the industry has evolved over the years.
The report identifies IBM (US), Google (US), Microsoft (US), Oracle (US), Artificial Solutions (Spain), Haptik (India), and Zendesk (US) among the top call center AI solution providers.
Artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies are rapidly being adopted in industries that are using conversational marketing. Chatbots technology is disrupting marketing, hospitality, finance, and travel industries. Some of the chatbots have become iconic for their respective brands. Chatbots combine software, artificial intelligence, and a knowledge base to simulate a human conversation through voice or text. Call centers need to keep up with these technological trends to track a customer journey that spans multiple channels.
Role of AI in Optimizing Call Center Operations
On average, a call center executive responds to similar questions at least 20–25 times a day. What if FAQs or repeated questions could be automatically answered by AI-Chatbots? Not only does it save the human effort on repeated queries but also saves the call center executive’s time for other critical tasks. According to the MarketsandMarkets Research, the Global Call Center AI Market is expected to grow from 800 million USD to 2,800 million USD in 2014 at a CAGR of 28.5%. The report revealed that increasing use of AI for call center operations enhanced customer support services and efficient customer engagement across social media platforms.
The focus of enterprises is slowly shifting towards AI-based customer support services for better customer engagement and experience. AI Chatbots are based on natural language processing, which enables them to carry out human-like conversations and assist customers in real-time. AI Chatbots also help call centers fetch business intelligence about customer preferences, opinions, and the buying pattern. This data enables businesses to provide proactive recommendations and personalized customer experience. Implementing AI in the call center industry will be a huge success for customers who prefer self-service options. AI can help customers get information at the right time, which saves the time and effort spent on service calls.
The productivity of call center executives can be greatly improved through the use of AI. Repeated or simple queries can be taken up by AI-chatbots so that executives can field more complex queries. Routine interactions can be automated, so that agents can focus on other more pressing tasks.
How is AI being implemented at Call Centers?
Today’s customer wants instant responses to his queries across channels, any delay in response would mean the customer taking their business elsewhere. Customers expect to have the right answers at lightning speeds. This is where AI can play a big role in optimizing response times across channels. Previously, call centers used to route calls to the first available agent. With AI, routing of calls is done in an entirely new fashion. Personality and behavioral analysis are used to match callers, chatters or tweeters with the call center executives with whom they are likely to share a good rapport.
AI can be used to handle routine calls that do not require the call center executive to invest time in. AI-agents first run common solutions by the knowledgebase before even connecting the customer to a live agent. Let us take the example of IBM’s Watson Assistant to understand the role of AI in call centers. The IBM Watson Assistant helps answer customer questions quickly and accurately and also empowers employees to perform their jobs efficiently. Pre-existing chat or call logs can be loaded into Watson Assistant so that he can train based on real user questions and utterances. For complex questions that Watson has not been trained to handle, a Search Skill facility will be used to search the company’s website or third-party tools.
Can AI replace human interaction at Call Centers?
Does AI have the potential to replace humans entirely from call center operations? This is a debatable question. While AI can provide accurate and quick responses to routine questions, complex queries still need human intervention. Ideally, AI technology can complement human interaction at call centers, but cannot entirely replace it. AI can play a big role in improving productivity at call centers by handling routine, repeated interactions. When you are looking for automation in fielding queries that can be answered through the knowledge base or FAQs artificial intelligence can be incredibly useful. AI is the best option for self-service oriented customer service where the customer is looking for instant and accurate information.
Future of AI in the Call Center Industry
The future enhancements in AI and machine learning technology are bound to increase their adoption into mainstream industries. The first to adopt such innovative technologies into their customer support workflows will stay ahead of the curve. Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without human interaction. Given these predictions, the onus is on the call center industry to adopt AI technology for optimizing their operations and increasing productivity levels. Apart from improving the productivity of call centers, AI also provides relief from the resource crunch that is prevailing in the industry. Call center executives are freed from mundane inquiries so that they can focus on more critical tasks.
Winimy AI believes in the potential of AI for reshaping business operations and productivity. We are pioneers in AI customer engagement solutions for different industries. If you are interested in exploring the potential of AI for your business, reach out to us at email@example.com.