The contact center has seen enormous change over the past several years. Customers have more points of contact, more resolution avenues to explore and more self-service tools at their disposal. That should all mean that contact center agents have it pretty easy now, right? Wrong. The number of interactions managed in the contact center is only increasing. Despite all the talk of automation and the future of work, the modern contact center is drowning in complexity and simply adding more agents in 2021.
The job of a contact center agent is as difficult as ever — if not more so. All of those digital platforms and self-service options have taken care of the simple work, leaving nothing but the most difficult and complex interactions for agents to manage. Customer expectations haven’t diminished one iota, either: According to a 2020 Calabrio study, 60% of consumers believe support agents should be able to handle the most complex problems thrown at them.
This situation is untenable unless companies make a concerted effort to support agents with the tools, knowledge and assistance they need to succeed in today’s contact center. At Jacada, we believe a comprehensive agent assistance program is essential to manage a strong contact center environment, keep operational costs and continually provide a winning customer experience.
Definitive Guide for Agent Assist
The Modern Contact Center Is Drowning In Complexity
Given the growing complexities listed above, it should come as no surprise that contact center agents deal with a lot of stressful situations in their day-to-day work. Those disheartening interactions place enormous strain on contact center staff, increasing the risk of burnout and attrition. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, contact center turnover rates typically reach as high as 60% in a given year.
While employee turnover may be viewed as an unfortunate fact of life in some corners of the industry, we don’t believe it has to — or should — be that way. The truth is the cost of repeatedly bringing new employees onboard and training them, only to see them wash out in short order is too much for many companies to bear. Contact center operations simply cannot sustainably grow to meet the needs of larger numbers of demanding customers while this cycle of attrition remains.
Assistance-First Approach to Applying AI & RPA in the Contact Center
Real-Time Agent Assistance to the Rescue
Contact center solutions such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) certainly have a lot of potential here, but technology alone isn’t the answer. How those agent support tools are deployed will determine if they can successfully address the headaches that contact center employees deal with every day while helping them steadily gain experience and build knowledge.
1. Start with the user experience, not the AI or automation technology.
2. Streamline complex customer interactions, not only simple interactions.
Companies usually start with the low-hanging fruit when incorporating RPA and other types of automation into the contact center. Don’t stop with automating the simple steps in a customer interaction. 54% of agents are stressing out about the complex customer requests according to a Calabrio study. Streamline the complex steps as well by leveraging an AI powered virtual assistant that works hand in hand with the RPA bot.
3. Understand what customers mean, not only what they say.
Whether you are looking to spot keywords, assess sentiment and tone, or extract intent and entities from the conversation trail, there are various ways in which contact center leaders can tap into the conversation between the customer and the agent in real-time. The best agent assist solutions go beyond simply capturing these insights. They focus on understanding the customer’s needs, by taking a multimodal approach to synthesizing insights and personalizing the agent and customer experience.
4. Harmonize and elevate systems, not rip and replace them.
Moving to the cloud or replacing a legacy system doesn’t necessarily bring about transformation. The customer experience tech stack will continue to remain rich and diverse given the increasingly complex demands placed on customer operations today. Using a low code automation platform to harmonize silos and elevate the customer experience is the only sustainable option.
5. Automate the flow of knowledge, not only the flow of data and processes.
As the contact center has become the complexity center that handles the complex customer requests that aren’t suited for self-service, contact center leaders find it daunting to enable agents with the right knowledge. Gartner recommends in their Agile Learning Manifesto that employees should acquire knowledge in the flow of value delivery — process automation needs to work hand in hand with knowledge automation.
6. Build on AI middleware, not human middleware.
Relying on analysts, data scientists and developers to build, deploy and manage your contact center AI tools is unsustainable in the long run. Look to contact center automation to serve as conversational middleware to launch and maintain a cutting-edge customer experience and contact center environment. The result — your AI talent can focus on building intelligent solutions that are central to your business while conversational middleware can scale the use of best of breed cognitive services across your customer experience tech stack.
7. Build multimodal experiences, not siloed experiences for each modality.
When contact center leaders were asked why they weren’t able to run the contact center of their dreams in a Call Centre Helper survey, they mentioned lack of budget and lack of systems integration as key impediments. Leverage a multimodal approach, and deliver effortless user experiences that scale across touchpoints and modalities. Break down those silos across the entire contact center and technology operation by embracing multiexperience.
for Each Modality
8. Assist employees during customer interactions, not only before or after moments that matter.
There are many tools and programs that drive contact center agent productivity today. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single tool that helps agents in real-time when they are struggling with complex interactions while talking to a customer. Contact centers must provide support to their agents when it’s needed most. Live agent assistance is essential to help representatives succeed and meet customer expectations.
Moments that Matter