Digital First, Voice Second
Automated digital self-service brings a host of benefits to customer service and customer experience. Faster, less cumbersome interactions get callers to answers at lightning speed and can handle many more calls simultaneously compared to traditional live agents. Some tasks require human empathy, however. Some callers choose not to take advantage of the benefits of self-service. For these reasons call center managers should always think, “Digital First, Voice Second.” Live agents will always have a role to play answering customer service voice calls.
“Call center managers should always think, ‘Digital First, Voice Second.’ Live agents will always have a role to play answering customer service voice calls.”
Benefits of Automation
Automation must come first in the modern call center for a variety of reasons. Today’s consumers expect intelligent, connected self-service experiences. The ease and convenience of automated self-service reduces the burden many feel even calling in to customer service. Automation delivers multiple benefits. Self-service creates improved customer satisfaction as customer journeys meet and exceed customer expectations. Modern solutions improve KPIs as well implemented automation handles many more calls simultaneously and delivers answers faster than ever, reducing AHT and human errors. Self-service creates agent empowerment as well as automation delivers engaging customer service to callers with common use cases, leaving live contact center agents available to handle more complex, empathy-driven interactions where their human skills and expertise provide the most value.
“Self-service creates improved customer satisfaction as customer journeys meet and exceed customer expectations. Modern solutions improve KPIs as well.”
Automation delivers business benefits as well, including cost reduction and revenue growth opportunities. Self-service solutions deliver end-to-end automation wherever they’re applied, reducing the number of inbound customer service calls that reach live agents, as well as the average handling time (AHT) of each call. Self-service solutions can be offered to callers in the IVR tree, during a call but before customers are connected with an agent. By deflecting these calls to self-service automation technology agents never need to interact with fully deflected callers.
Shifting routine, repetitive call types to self-service is a cost effective method of handling inbound interactions like Order Status in retail, Appointment Confirmation in healthcare, Claims Submission in insurance, or FAQ and knowledge bases for almost any industry. Further benefiting the bottom line, when customers wait on hold during customer service calls, visual self-service solutions can easily connect and display product advertisements and other marketing materials. Every visual self-service interaction carries with it the opportunity to market in this way.
Voice Must Be Included
While the benefits of automation are clear and apparent, they diminish greatly when voice channels are completely replaced. Many customer service inquiries are simply too complex or unusual for automation to solve satisfactorily. Even with the benefits of modern technology, some callers simply don’t want to interact with automated systems and would prefer speaking with a live human every time. For these situations, employing 100% automation creates unnecessary friction, frustration, and stress instead of fast, easy solutions.
“It’s about a new mindset in CX: for routine customer service calls, drive inbound call volumes to self-service first, but make accessing live agents quick and easy in case customers have follow up questions or automation didn’t solve their problem.”
While “Migrating Contact Volume From Assisted to Self-Service Channels” was one of the most important priorities for 80% of customer service leaders according to Gartner, followed closely by “Automating Customer Service Processes,” the most successful customer service centers are only automating a portion of their call types. It’s about a new mindset in CX: for routine customer service calls, drive inbound call volumes to self-service first, but make accessing live agents quick and easy in case customers have follow up questions or automation didn’t solve their problem.
Digital Complements Agents
Self-service benefits customers and businesses, but it can complement and benefit live agents as well. When implemented strategically, automation can empower agents with detailed information, make security compliance easier, and reduce agent burnout. Strained under the weight of switching to WFH and faced with a wave of increased call volumes, agents assisted by integrated visual self-service tools can focus on more complex calls where their skills are most important, and are less likely to leave call centers as part of the Great Resignation.
Self-service tools allow businesses to authenticate callers and gather critical information while customers before speaking with agents and push that information directly to human CSRs, who can deliver the faster, more convenient experience customers desire. The added information makes experiences more enjoyable for callers and empowers reps to provide the best possible service. COVID-19 normalized remote and hybrid work and customer service agents working from home have needed new ways of handling sensitive information like payment processing and other tasks. Modern self-service tools let agents deliver the empathetic, human interactions they’re trained for, while allowing them to pass the final payment process off to secure self-service to complete a successful resolution.
Contact center agents excel at delivering empathetic, human experiences to consumers calling about complex, stressful situations. Their skill and expertise provide interactions that even the most advanced automation can’t match. When agents get bogged down in simple, straightforward, tedious calls, the ability to deliver powerful interactions where agents’ skills are really valuable diminishes. Self-service tools deflect these tiresome, repetitive tasks away from agents. Tools that deliver end-to-end automation and completely contain these tedious interactions empower agents to focus only on calls where their skills are most valuable. Freeing agents with successful automation takes the most simple interactions off their plates and empowers them to deliver the best service they can.
Today’s self-service automation solutions benefit everyone involved — customers, businesses, and call center agents. The speed and convenience of modern technology can be a boon to call centers, but only if humans are included. Automation can be the first option for repetitive, straightforward call types, but humanity must always be involved and available for when automation isn’t the best option or callers simply prefer speaking with live agents.