By Marie Angselius-Schönbeck, Chief Impact Officer at Artificial Solutions
As global costs for products and services increase, mangers of contact centres are focusing on cost-efficient operations. Businesses are now realising that they must take additional steps in order to guarantee longer term operational resilience. In forward-thinking organisations, steps have been taken to adopt advanced technologies such as Conversational AI and improving customer experience (CX) by reducing average handling times (AHT) and increased customer satisfaction score (CSAT).
However, the “manage what I have” and “run the mess for less” is contradictory to higher return of investment (ROI) and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). And most likely alienate your employees and increase the costs of retaining and find new talent in a very competitive industry.
Recent research from McKinsey found that call centre employees who were engaged and satisfied were 8.5 times more likely to stay than leave within a year, 4 times more likely to stay compared to dissatisfied colleagues, 16 times more likely to refer a friend to the company, and 3.3 times more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues. It is clear that by putting a stronger focus on CX and employee experience (EX) – businesses and employees alike will feel the benefits.
Conversational AI can help you decrease costs while you improve the experience of your customers and your agents. Augmentation of existing staff with virtual agents and agent assist support will shorten agent call times, and handle some requests fully (containment rate) without staff involvement. These efficiencies bring down your total cost per call (CPC) dramatically.
A report by CGI clearly indicates that if you reduce staff time spent by 30% and your current CPC is £4, your CPC goes down to £2.80. The ROI of a Conversational AI solution and the impact it has on customer satisfaction will increase proportionally to the complexity of the use case and the maturity of the enterprise.
How can businesses make sure both CX and EX are prioritised to increase volume and ROI?
- Employee-first design: businesses should make sure that employees are included as part of the design process. Inviting employees and managers into the process of designing conversational flows and speaking with contact centre agents who have the best understanding of the most common questions and answers, helps to ensure Conversational AI assistants are effective problem solvers. This, in turn, means that human agents spend less time dealing with frustrated customers who have a frustrating experience with the automated system.
- Whisper agents: conversational AI agents can also directly support human customer support agents in their role by acting as a ‘whisper agent’. This could be to provide contextual support to the agent in the background, whether that’s drawing the most relevant information from the CRM to personalise the experience or supporting them with questions on more technical policies, particularly for areas like insurance and banking. Whisper agents can help employees feel better supported while enabling them to provide a better service to customers.
- Continually improving businesses should continue testing and listening once the implementation is in place. Creating feedback loops both improves the solution and keeps employees feeling engaged. And by building employees into the end-to-end process, businesses can make their team feel involved in higher-level strategic decisions to further boost their feeling of satisfaction.
Excellent EX through Conversational AI
In the modern world, it is no longer just wages or job-related stress that have an influence on employee satisfaction and retention. Companies should continue to focus on EX hygiene factors that are within their control – such as increasing the frequency and effectiveness of huddles, the duration of training (or nesting), and the opportunities for socialising – to make sure employees feel empowered.
On top of these basics, businesses that are looking to uplevel their contact centre operations should place a strong emphasis on EX, as well as CX. Making the most of the technologies that they are already investing in – such as Conversational AI – and bringing those benefits to internal stakeholders, as well as external ones.
For a business to maximise its investment into Conversational AI, it must make sure that it is including employees. By inviting human agents to provide suggestions, the business will create the most effective Conversational AI agent, while strengthening the bond with its employees.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that employee satisfaction can take years to earn but can disappear in a flash. Putting EX at the heart of Conversational AI implementations in the contact centre is a great place to start.