Automation and Self-Service CX Are Growing Rapidly But Live Agents Will Also Become More Valuable in 2020 and Beyond

by | May 8, 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has fundamentally changed the way companies are doing business today. With workforces transitioned to work-from-home (WFH) and customer service call volumes spiking, businesses are looking for the best way to flatten the contact center curve and deliver fast, simple, enjoyable customer experiences despite increased volumes and restricted agents.

2020 has created the perfect blend of conditions for companies of all sizes and industries to dive into the wave of automation and self-service solutions, but that doesn’t mean the end of live agents. In fact, the increase in automation means live agents will be more valuable and important than ever.

“A perfect blend of affordable, easy to implement self-service automation solutions and a post-COVID-19 world means customer service departments will be implementing automation this year, but live agents will only increase in importance.”

The Perfect Conditions for Self-Service

CX experts like Neal Topf know what’s happening to the contact center industry. Today’s AI and automated self-service solutions don’t require the big budgets and robust IT infrastructure they used to. Even at the end of 2019 businesses were beginning to recognize 2020 as the year self-service because truly feasible, no matter what size or industry they operated in. There are no barriers to entry anymore. Today companies with no customer service automation can integrate and launch solutions like Visual IVR in less than 4 weeks at more economical prices than ever before.

Now that we’ve seen what 2020 had waiting for us, self-service and automation have become even more critical for businesses. As customer service departments around the world struggle under the strain of COVID-19, automated solutions have risen as the best solution for overwhelmed contact centers. These self-service solutions are helping companies keep callers off tedious queues, lowering average handle time (AHT), and improving first call resolution (FCR) as a result. For the straightforward issues most customers reach out to companies about, modern automation has clear advantages to traditional IVR:

  • Automation lets call centers deflect calls to self-service and reduce the burden on agents
  • Self-service automation provides callers the answers they are looking for 24/7
  • Rapid deployments allow contact centers and crisis managers to implement and deploy responses in days, even during a crisis
  • Powerful editing tools empower crisis managers to quickly and easily edit and manage information alerts

 

Increased Automation Doesn’t Mean Devalued Live Agents

It may seem like a contradiction at first, but the rise of automation in 2020 doesn’t spell disaster for live agents. Contrary to what some think, experts know that in a world of stressed-out callers empathy-driven, emotional responses are increasingly important. Forrester researcher, Kate Leggett, found automation would actually increase the value of live agents as companies adopt and deploy self-service solutions. She explains this trend of increased agent value:

“Agent-assisted inquiries take longer to resolve and require skilled agent resources to solve the issue and temper customer frustration. It’s increasingly important to get these interactions right. Why? Agent interactions offer rare moments to connect with customers and nurture relationships. Customer service pros must make these human moments matter. They must empower agents with the right agent workspaces, data, and processes to better understand, support, and emotionally connect with customers.”

As more straightforward calls get handled quickly and easily by self-service solutions, the calls getting through to live agents will become consistently more complex. These human interactions will become increasingly valuable and the agents that handle them will become more important as their skills are used more prominently with every customer they speak with.

Automation and self-service have arrived. 2020 has created the perfect blend of conditions for companies of all sizes and industries to join the self-service moment. Contact centers of every size and every industry are realizing what experts have known for a while — digital self-service like Visual IVR is necessary for today’s customer service and CX. As businesses deploy solutions, they would be wise to remember what else experts have said: increased automation and self-service doesn’t mean live agents lose value.

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