By Jeff Fettes
Contact centers are more hectic and overworked than ever. While agents deal with a huge volume of calls, they also deal with expectations of superior customer service. Although businesses have tried to reduce call volume with features like texting and more robust web interfaces, the reality is many requests still need personal attention. Those workers, however, often struggle to resolve calls quickly enough to keep a good pace while still making customers happy.
The answer to this problem isn’t more hiring. Rather, it’s harnessing the best elements of humans and artificial intelligence to create a seamless call center experience. Think of it as a hybrid that merges the best elements of people and technology. Attended automation uses AI and machine learning to guide and support human agents by answering questions, handling repetitive tasks, and preventing errors. The automation is attended by the agent; it does not replace the human.
Most companies offer customers several self-service options, so when a customer calls, it’s likely a critical issue. Agents are left to deal with the complex matters a bot alone can’t handle. Chatbots can perform only limited tasks, while other options like texting often result in handing off customers to live agents to complete the case.
Attended automation, on the other hand, works alongside an agent from the beginning of the call or contact. Here are six ways attended automation can quickly transform a call center.
1. Attended Automation Crunches Data
Attended automation software sits on an agent’s desktop and can access the same programs and information. Unlike humans, it can browse, crunch, and compile this data at breathtaking speed. This added assistance enables an agent to deliver the care and concern that’s at the heart of customer service—without the hassle of switching between tabs, screens, or programs.
Essentially, attended automation allows agents to work smarter, not harder.
2. Attended Automation Handles the Grunt Work
Everyone has experienced a call where an agent struggles to find account details, financial history, or order status. It’s incredibly frustrating for both customer and agent, especially if a customer has already waited on hold before getting to the agent.
Attended automation can be the JARVIS to an agent’s Iron Man, uncovering necessary information and suggesting the right action, all while taking care of repetitive or low-value tasks in the background.
3. Attended Automation Helps Agents Act with Empathy
An agent who is trying to root out the right information will not be able to be present and helpful. And customers who wait on hold to connect to an agent often have complex issues or might be upset or frustrated. The last thing an agent needs when helping an upset customer is to navigate multiple programs and complex policies while the customer’s impatience grows.
With attended automation, agents have exactly what they need when they need it and can focus on making sure a customer is happy and resolving the issue in a way that benefits everyone.
4. Attended Automation Supports More Flexible Workforce Management
Traditionally, managers must account for weeks—sometimes months—of training time before new employees are ready for the floor. But technology like attended automation helps decrease the time needed to train agents to full proficiency and supports veteran agents in providing even better service.
It guides agents through workflows that once required lengthy training, like a GPS for customer care. And beyond faster speed-to-production, attended AI technology has a related benefit: a larger selection of qualified candidates. Recruiters can put less focus on hiring for technical expertise and agility. With a built-in coach on their computer, agents can focus on connecting with the customer—the job they were hired to do—rather than remembering systems and workflows.
5. Attended Automation Does More Than Expected
Companies expect an attended automation program to handle certain low-level tasks like retrieving customer data, auto-populating forms, and logging call details. However, it can do much more, including preventing unintentional overpayments and intentional ones (fraud); highlighting personalized insights; and drafting professional, on-brand emails.
New features and capabilities are frequently added to most automation software.
6. Attended Automation Can Overhaul Call Center Metrics
Call center agents aren’t just under pressure from upset customers. They are also under pressure from their supervisors to resolve calls quickly and handle a certain number of calls per hour or day. Attended automation can significantly reduce AHT (average handling time) and rap-up time, increase productivity and accuracy, and improve CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores.
Agents contribute to the bottom line but are also able to do their jobs well with less stress and pressure.
With attended automation as an agent-assist tool, the agent can focus on interacting with the customer and providing outstanding service versus fumbling around for the right information or keeping a customer on hold. The agent—and by extension, the brand—gets credit for an amazing customer experience with a little support from some advanced technology.
Attended automation in the contact center has the potential to deliver happier agents, happier customers, and ultimately, a happier bottom line.
Serial entrepreneur Jeff Fettes is the founder and CEO of Laivly, a leading AI-powered attended automation platform designed specifically for the contact center environment. Laivly helps some of the world’s best-known brands transform their call center operations with next-generation automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning so they can excel, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction and experience.