Your contact center plays a significant role in your company’s success. Customers expect prompt support, and failure to provide this support consistently can result in lost business. However, contact centers face new challenges in upholding their service levels with fewer employees. One solution many organizations are turning to is contact center automation.
Automation has long been an answer to efficiency and productivity challenges. The current climate of labor shortages and rising interest rates is hitting every sector, with contact centers competing for a smaller supply of labor than the current demand requires. Integrating automation into this area of business isn’t new, but adoption isn’t widespread, nor is the strategic use of automation beyond removing some repetitive tasks from agents’ workloads. Achieving scale with automation requires a new approach and more sophisticated technology.
So how can automation help you scale your operations? Let’s find out.
What Does Scaling Your Contact Center Mean?
There are several things that can drive the need to scale, including:
- A surge in new customers
- Expanding or adding new products or services
- Having less labor available while inquiry volumes increase from both new and existing customers
- A desire to expand automation programs to cover more than simple, repetitive tasks
- The need to create a shared services role
Any or all of these variables could arise in your business. They are part of growth and success, so they are certainly welcome in many cases. However, these things will strain your existing contact center operations. Developing a proactive plan before these events happen will be critical, and at the heart of the solution is automation.
As you assess how you should scale, you’ll meet a variety of challenges and take note of current trends.
Contact Center Scaling: Challenges and Trends
In most cases, scaling any type of operation requires more people. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option for companies that need to reduce costs or have difficulties recruiting workers. Additionally, contact centers faced high turnover even before the pandemic (with churn rates of 35-40 percent).
Labor is often the most difficult obstacle in scaling. You may not have the budget to expand your headcount. Even if you do, the labor market is tight, with low unemployment rates. Further, amid the pandemic and the ensuing Great Resignation, workers have also developed different perspectives. They desire meaningful work, an environment that embraces technology, and the potential to grow and advance in their career.
These gaps may seem impossible to bridge. The risk of not modernizing and evolving is that customers won’t get the attention they deserve, and contact center employees won’t have the resources to be effective and satisfied with their job. Customers may abandon your company, and your overworked employees will burn out faster and leave.
It’s a recipe for disaster for your brand’s reputation and profitability. To counter this, you can adopt an emerging trend in contact center scaling, starting with a strategic vision. When you do this, you prioritize:
- Consistency in service
- Maximizing your labor
- The operational logistics of contact center workflows and identifying areas for optimization
- Predicting and managing volume
- Empowering agents with tools that streamline their processes and allow them to have more meaningful interactions with customers
Defining your strategic vision includes determining how you’ll use automation to address all the challenges of scaling.
Automation consists of two components: robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA). Automation has become a mainstream approach, with 78 percent of companies using it in some way. The deployment of automation delivers solutions to meet organizations’ unique scaling objectives and goals.
Because the technology is flexible and innovative, you have the opportunity to reimagine your contact center operations to benefit your customers and employees. From removing repetitive tasks to improving self-service to enhancing the overall experience, automation is revolutionary.
Let’s examine how RPA and IPA can be the ideal answers to contact center scaling concerns.
Automation Solves Contact Center Scaling Challenges
Turning to technology with contact center automation can bring many benefits and help you resolve your current challenges, with RPA and IPA providing a clear path to scaling successfully.
RPA is a system of “digital workers” that take on repetitive, rules-based tasks, eliminating the need for human activity once they’re set up. This is the base level of automation, and many organizations have integrated it into their processes to some degree. Many of these companies may not even realize it because it’s part of their contact center software. The functions may be limited, but RPA is vital to scaling.
RPA supports contact center operations in several ways, including:
- Ticket tagging, which provides agents with context regarding the issue at hand
- Integrations that provide quick access to customer data from contact center platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) software, alleviating the need for agents to hunt for information
- Moving data to new fields automatically to reduce the time of the interaction and get the resolution moving quickly
- Eliminating the human errors that are inherent in manual data entry
- Managing simple processes, including verifying and issuing refunds, delivering order information, and facilitating account creation
IPA combines the power of RPA with AI technologies, extending the applications of contact center automation. It can be a key tool in covering the gap and improving operational efficiency, including:
- Providing opportunities for self-service with AI chatbots that incorporate natural language processing (NLP), which can bypass the need for support tickets being created
- Surfacing knowledge base articles for agents, which puts useful information in their hands and reduces the time it takes to resolve issues
- Offering guided initial touchpoints or onboarding for customers who need information on how to use software solutions or products
- Enabling smart routing for information collected from customers to direct them to the right agent
- Broadening the ways in which customers can contact you with omnichannel options and streamlining them for your agents
- Digging into the data around contact center interactions to uncover insights and improve responses, products, and more
Contact center automation in these applications supports agent productivity, the critical component when you need to scale with fewer resources. It also ensures that you can scale the experience for your customers, ensuring it remains consistent and delightful no matter how they engage with your contact center.
So what does the automation scaling process involve?
Scaling Contact Center Automation: 4 Vital Components
To fully take advantage of these opportunities, you’ll need to align your strategic vision with your automation journey. Working with experts who can help you find and maximize automation opportunities will be critical to the success of your scaling process.
This process involves four key components:
- Advisory: assessing the current state, comparing it to benchmarks, and prioritizing use cases
- Automation: designing the automation coding and testing it
- Analytics: continuing to monitor the performance of your automation and driving continuous improvement
- AI: determining how these technologies can advance your automation further as you scale
With these elements, your contact center can remain lean but effective.
Transform Your Contact Center and Drive Scalability with Automation
Doing more with less is a familiar refrain for organizations. It’s a never-ending challenge, but automation offers a way to solve it. With automation, you can transform your contact center operations, scale without overburdening your agents, and maintain the high-quality service that customers expect.
Learn more about how your company can make this change by reading Leveraging Intelligent Automation to Increase Operational Efficiency.