Are contact centre agents the only way to deliver customer service?
Everything’s on the up - call volumes, cost of call handling, maintaining, managing and training people, as well as customer expectations.
Never has the incentive to automate as many calls as possible, and as efficiently as possible, been as great as it is today. While businesses want to focus on differentiating themselves through customer experience, they also need to consider the economics of their contact centre. Given that the largest cost is likely to be their employees, companies need to find a way to handle routine calls more cost-effectively and allow their most capable and experienced agents to handle calls where they can add value.
Customer challenge – customer service has changed
There used to be a perception that the only way to provide the “best customer service” in a contact centre was through a customer service agent. Not so any more. With the number of new channels that customers expect to be available, there are few contact centres that can resource the peaks and troughs effectively.
The question now being asked is ‘when does waiting for an agent equal poor customer service?’ Today’s customer believes that waiting more than 1 minute is too long. 
So, what’s the answer?
As always, the solution is a combination of things. Keeping customers waiting is no longer an option when you’re focused on CX. But you can’t employ an army of agents to handle all the calls, many of which involved low level, routing tasks and repetitive responses. Automation is part of the answer, but it can’t do everything. The optimum arrangement is to employ the best, most experienced agents and let them take the higher value calls, those that need a human touch or where the caller may not be comfortable with technology or has a disability. Customers will accept automation for routine tasks, and may even prefer it if it reduces their waiting time.
The value of automation
Technologies exist today that can revolutionise your customer experience, letting customers choose how they engage with you, when, and on any device. Here’s a few ideas to consider …
You can assign certain tasks to a Chatbot to spread the load, especially at busy times. The only difference is, with a Chatbot you spread tasks between human agents ... and automated bots. Give the Chatbot the basic, repetitive tasks for which you can provide all the answers via a Knowledge Base. Chatbots are ideal for this: they will never get tired of giving out the same answer and they’ll certainly be consistent.
Advanced speech recognition
End the dreaded touch-tone menus by using advanced speech recognition that opens an IVR engagement with a simple ‘Hello, how may I help you today?’. Your customer can then use their own words to ask for what they want, and your IVR can direct them to the right place first time.
Real time information
If you have regular information updates that your customers are interested in, such as rail schedules and services, energy distribution outages or public health information, why not use your IVR to deliver this information rather than taking up agents’ time repeating the details? It will available 24x7 and can be updated easily from one source.
The end result will be noticed by all. Your agents will be released from repetitive task hell and can focus their human engagement on those that need it. The customer has the choice of engagement modes and is free to resolve issues for themselves and get the information they need more quickly.
Your business benefits through lower call handling costs and improved efficiency. All round a far better customer experience without a massive investment.
For deeper insight download the eGuide Self-Service a win/win for customers and contact centres. If you’d like to know more then give us a call on 08000 630 730 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*source  Google
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