Contact centers are a critical part of a business’s foundation. The modern approach to customer support involves much more than a call center. These interactions are a key part of the customer experience. For them to meet and exceed expectations, these employees need to focus on customers’ needs rather than wasting time with outdated, manual workflows. Contact centers are infamous for being huge cost centers where productivity and efficiency at scale are hard to achieve. To put the focus back on customers, empower agents, and save time and money in contact centers, many companies look to operational efficiency.
In pursuing operational efficiency in your contact center, you’ll find that automation can help resolve your biggest challenges. In this post, we’ll dive into common challenges contact centers face and explore ways to achieve operational efficiency with the power of automation.
The Key Challenges of Contact Centers
The challenges each company faces in its contact center are unique. However, in general, you may be experiencing some of these common issues:
- High call volumes: Reducing call volume has been a top priority for contact center executives for years.
- Staffing concerns: Contact center roles often have high turnover, with pre-pandemic rates at 35-40 percent. Post-pandemic churn doubled this turnover rate, and the costs to replace an agent can be $4,000-$8,000.
- Onboarding new agents: Getting agents up to speed can be daunting, especially in roles that handle more complex queries from industries such as finance and software.
- Long wait times for customers: These cause frustration and erode trust and loyalty.
- Inability to resolve queries quickly: Agents often have to do a lot of scavenging to find relevant information, which equates to more waiting by customers.
For any customer-centric company, the contact center needs innovative approaches to solve these problems. The challenges impact both your staff and your customers. But to address these challenges, you’ll need a new strategy to ensure customers get the best and fastest service, employees have higher job satisfaction, and your organization retains its best agents.
How Does Operational Efficiency Solve Contact Center Challenges?
Operational efficiency is an overarching term referring to a company’s optimal use of time, people, equipment, budgets, technology, and inventory. You can easily see how it fits into the contact center model: You can’t have a high-performing contact center without systemic efficiency.
So how can operational efficiency—specifically the use of automation—transform contact centers?
Applying RPA to Contact Centers to Save Time and Money
The first level of automation is robotic process automation (RPA). This type of process automation eliminates repetitive tasks from an agent’s workflow. Anything that doesn’t require human intervention can be reassigned to RPA, such as copying and pasting data, performing basic calculations, filling out forms, and doing other data entry. As a result, agents can remain focused on the caller, not data processing.
RPA can also assist with ticket tagging by gathering input information from the customer. With this automated information gathering in place, agents have relevant data to speed up the resolution process.
System integration is another way RPA can support the contact center and its quest for operational efficiency. If your agents need multiple platforms (e.g., contact center software, CRMs, ticketing systems), you can use RPA to bridge these disparate platforms. As a result, agents are more productive and aren’t jumping from system to system.
That’s just the start of what automation can do. When you augment RPA with AI, additional possibilities open up.
Leveraging Intelligent Automation to Improve Operational Efficiency Even More
Intelligent automation combines RPA with various AI technologies. In this scenario, your agents get even more support, and efficiency increases. Here are some examples of ways call centers can use intelligent automation.
Providing AI Chatbots and Self-Service
AI-powered chatbots can automate conversations, notifications, and form submissions that incorporate natural language processing (NLP). With self-service options, fewer tickets require agent intervention, reducing the strain on resources and subsidizing headcount.
Delivering Knowledge to Agents
Intelligent automation can assist agents by providing knowledge base articles and similar past tickets in an AI-powered dashboard. This can be very valuable to agents in time savings. They don’t have to hunt for content. When it’s immediately available, they can use it to deliver the best responses to customers.
Unlocking Smart Routing and Omnichannel Options
One tool most contact centers use is interactive voice response (IVR). It collects information from a customer and then routes it to the agent group most capable of handling the need.
Intelligent automation also makes omnichannel routing easier. Your customers want options for how to contact you—voice, chat, email, and social media, for example. You don’t want to have separate queues for each of these options. Integrating these channels with automation keeps everything streamlined.
Exploring Analysis and Insights
Intelligent automation provides a way to analyze contact center data. Studying this data can help you understand trends and identify patterns to address, such as metrics around call time, wait time, first-call resolution, and staffing needs. This deep level of insight isn’t just valuable to customer service; it can influence product managers, marketing, sales, and more.
Automation Drives Contact Center Operational Efficiency
When organizations implement any of these RPA or intelligent automation solutions, their entire workflows become more efficient. Contact centers can eliminate waste from clunky processes and delays caused by manual work. When you streamline your operations, you’ll reduce costs around your contact center in terms of labor, software, and productivity.
Ready to learn more about operational efficiency and automation for contact centers? Watch our on-demand webinar “Choose Your Path to Hyperautomation: Contact Center Edition.”