4 Reasons Why Agent Assist Is So Hot Right Now?

Soaring complexity in the contact center, the work-from-home normal and the silver lining provided by AI and RPA.

The popularity and explosion of digital channels over the last few years put all the attention on self-service solutions. Yet, many organizations have come to the realization that assisting contact center agents is a fundamental pillar of the perfect customer experience. In fact, 64% of customers believe they should have easier access to customer service agents, and one third of your customers believe that speaking to a knowledgeable agent is the most important aspect of customer service.
Agent Assistance is experiencing a resurgence in interest and popularity. In part because self-service solutions, while incredibly beneficial and powerful, have not, despite popular belief, obviated the need for the human touch of customer service. As more customers get frustrated by a lack of efficient human assistance, and where more companies differentiate themselves based on the customer experience, the focus is shifting to providing a balanced approach: Self-service channels for those who prefer them, and live assistance for those who need them.
The same advances that powered self-service – Conversational AI, Real-time Interaction Analytics, Robotic Process Automation and Machine Learning – all of these are now being applied inside the contact center, giving organizations the ability to assist the contact center workforce.

Trend #1: Increasing Contact Center Interaction Complexity x Increasing Agent Desktop Complexity

In many ways, we’ve experienced the perfect storm within the contact center: Not only have agent desktops increased in complexity, the actual customer interactions have become significantly more intricate.
First, the inherent subject matter has become more complex, not less. Product bundling, stricter SLAs and aggressive marketing promotions all make the role of the customer service representative more difficult.
Second, omnichannel rollouts mean that an agent may well be taking the call after previous interactions on other channels, requiring the agent to resume an interaction without skipping a beat!
In a CEB survey, the respondents indicated that the biggest impact on agent productivity was the interaction with the systems and tools on the desktop. Service leaders added or updated an average of 8.6 new tools and systems to assist frontline service reps. Everytime a new tool or system is added, the agent interaction becomes more complicated. So much for trying to help.
The Contact Center Pipeline survey has also shown year after year that agent desktop complexity is one of the top three challenges contact center leaders are dealing with. Many organizations have arrived at this point because they had not really designed for the contact center agent. While organizations have greatly matured their ability to deliver effortless customer experiences, designing an effortless employee experience is not often seen as a high priority pursuit. However this is beginning to change as agent desktop complexity reaches a tipping point.

Trend #2: Rise of Real-time Speech Analytics

Real-time speech analytics was for decades one of those “promising technologies” where the technology itself never quite arose to the vision. Historically, the processing was relegated to “after call” work – analyzing what the call was about. And while that had some value to the organization, it did very little to assist the agent.
Real-time speech analytics provides the ability to analyze speech and understand the customer intent and sentiment and proactively assist the agent in completing a call. On a most simplistic level, imagine that the moment the customer indicates that they have a billing issue, the agent’s desktop immediately stages all the relevant applications and pre-load the customer data.
Thanks to the advancement in conversational AI to understand intent and manage conversation context, as well as to the responsiveness of “real-time” speech analytics, these solutions are now real, and very much delivering to the earlier hype. Real-time speech analytics is now promising to revolutionize the agent and customer experience, and the technology can finally deliver.
Now that software can now understand what the customer needs, an intelligent agent assistant can utilize best-practices and knowledge bases and guide the agent on what to do, what to say and even how to say it based on an understanding of the customer’s sentiment … injecting much needed empathy into what would otherwise be a robotic interaction.

How to Use Insights from Speech Analytics to
Automate the Contact Center

Trend #3: Robotic Desktop Automation in the Contact Center

Unfortunately, Robotic Process Automation, particularly in the context of a contact center, has historically had many negative connotations.
First, as the name implies, the solutions are robotic in nature. No customer wants to experience a robotic interaction. We want empathy. We want dynamic conversation. Robotic is as far from that as can be.
Second, the term ‘automation’ implies that there is an attempt to completely automate the agent out of a job. It would have been far better had the term been coined as Robotic Process Assistance instead.
Forrester recently predicted that 8 out of 10 tasks performed manually in the contact center today can be automated using robotic process automation.
Modern RPA solutions in the contact center have now been deployed to truly assist the agent in their role, helping them be more effective and efficient in the interaction, and also importantly lowering agent churn by increasing job satisfaction thanks to the robots doing the tedious work.
With this new deployment model, the negative connotations of the past are slowly dying, and RPA in the contact center, in the form of robotic desktop automation is gaining increased acceptance.

How to Discover the Best Use Cases for Robotic Desktop Automation in Your Call Center

Trend #4: COVID & the Work from Home Normal

Organizations are quickly adapting to the “new normal” of a hybrid workforce that is not restricted by the physical location of the contact center.
Savvy contact center leaders are seeking new methods to assist contact center agents in real-time as trainers, coaches, subject matter experts and supervisors are no longer under the same roof.
Enabling remote call center agents requires:

Learning Organization – As the interactions handled in the contact center get more complex each year, contact center leaders are required to reexamine how they train, onboard and enable their agents to become the best agents they can be. The traditional means of classroom training, post-call analytics, performance management, quality management and falling by the wayside.

According to Gartner, your best employees in this digital era will be the fastest learners. Further 70% of their learning should come from on-the-job experience. While the work from home normal as placed spotlight on agent onboarding, contact center leaders need to ask themselves whether they are doing everything they can to enable their workforce for the coming disruption.

Real-time Assistance – It’s more important than ever to maximize your agents’ ability to manage complex interactions from home, and to overcome any inherent risks introduced by a predominantly remote workforce.

Contact center leaders increasingly rely on AI and automation, not
humans, to assist agents in real-time, to mitigate risks and reliably boost revenue and customer loyalty.

Whether the risk of losing your customer’s trust over a matter of information security, the cost of not complying with an industry regulation, or the loss of revenue from not using the most effective rebuttal during a sales conversation, the cost of agent negligence has only gotten higher in the new normal. The good news, help is on the way in the form of agent assist.

Rise Above The Pandemic With an Automation-first BPO Strategy

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