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The call center is dead, long live the hub of conversational interactions

The call center is dead, long live the hub of conversational interactions
Jean-François Teissier
Jean-François Teissier Manager Odigo eXperience Services

Do you want to start a real conversation between the brand and its customers on the voice channel? To do so, it is recommended to automate customer relations in your contact center. Using the right technologies to accelerate your automation trajectory makes your brand more available and efficient, resulting in increased customer and agent satisfaction.

October 16, 2019

As the number of channels increases, automation solutions are a fantastic technological way for customer relations departments to reinvent themselves and initiate a real conversation between the brand and its customers. In this landscape, the telephone remains the preferred channel for consumers because talking remains the most natural way to express oneself, especially when there is a sense of urgency! In addition, with the advent of personal assistants, the voice became omnipresent. How can automation help brands to be more available and efficient, not only for their customers but also their agents, within a new generation of voice portals?

From the era of urgency to the conversational era

While the call centers of the past, with their rows of advisors, could be content to be reactive, nowadays, the objective is more to establish a dialogue between the brand and its customers, before, during, or after the interaction. If brands tend to establish the most humane and qualitative customer relationship possible, it is to create an even richer exchange with their customers. The era of urgency is over. Long live the conversational one!

Pushing logic to its extreme leads naturally to a seamless experience where conversation begins on one channel and then resumes on another: the omnichannel customer relationship is the new standard. For example, according to a study commissioned by Verizon, if 63% of respondents do not attach any importance to the channel used to contact companies, 41% would leave a company unable to respond to their request at the first contact.

To ensure this continuity, the moments of interaction must be virtuous. As for human and virtual agents, they must be as available, relevant, and empathetic as possible: the brand’s voice is expressed through them! The combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and the historical channel, the telephone – which remains the preferred communication channel – ensures the transition to the conversational and contributes to the automation revolution (42% of respondents to Verizon’s survey are open to companies that offer new communication methods such as personal voice assistants).

The agent remains the cornerstone of the contact center: indeed, what interaction is more critical for a brand than one human talking to another human? According to this study, 34% of respondents would change companies if they did not have the opportunity to talk to a person. In an era of symmetry of attention – the principle that all the care that the company gives to its customers is reflected in the support it provides to its employees – the advisor, the new ambassador, must be at the heart of customer strategy!

Automation is a win-win situation

While quantitative objectives remain, they are now more in line with loyalty than retention. To do this, equipping agents with tools that simplify their lives (finer qualification, user identification and/or authentication, feeling analysis, emotion detection, etc.) and help them respond faster and more accurately (360° customer view, conversation history to use the lessons learned from each interaction) will, in turn, simplify the customer’s life.

AI and agents are often opposed. However, collaboration is possible, and even recommended. Everyone wins: the brand, its agents, and customers. With automation, the agent is relieved of tasks that do not necessarily require his intervention (request for certification or invoice, registration or reservation, etc.), and focuses on processing files where his value is indisputable: the criteria remain at the choice of the brand, but customers whose calls are rare, or those whose requests are emotionally charged or identified as at risk (risk of disengagement, high turnover potential) can find answers with the most competent agents.

Automation allows your advisors to give their best

Optimizing agent time remains one of the main challenges for contact centers. The multiplication of channels having led to a strong growth in the volume of customer interactions and the use of bots for repetitive or routine tasks is becoming more common, especially in self-service. With natural language understanding (NLU) mastery, bots are now able to engage customers in conversations as naturally as possible, through text or voice.

Wherever the interaction begins, the company keeps track of the exchange history and reconciles the information to keep the conversation going. This can be done with a voice assistant, on social networks, or by telephone with a conversational agent who offers clients the autonomy they are looking for or with an agent, which has been augmented by the recommendations made by his bot: the next best actions (NBA).

In the conversational era, the preferred medium for users is voice, because it is the most natural for them. It is also the vehicle for sensitive subjects and emotion. As such, automating customer relations on the telephone channel (which remains the majority channel today), and soon on voicebots or personal assistants, is a key customer satisfaction and productivity issue for large organizations.

Indeed, when the company’s main objective is to initiate a conversation with its consumer, automation is a powerful lever, especially on voice and telephone. This can take place at any stage of the customer journey: reception, identification, qualification, processing, agent support, etc.

Technologies at the service of a trajectory: the automation of customer relations on voice

Technology remains only a means, not an end in itself. To offer its customers personalized paths by automating lower value requests without questioning the existing system, the company’s multidisciplinary (project) team must define its automation trajectory, rely on a methodology, and implement a change management approach.

Intelligent automation appeals to you, but you have questions like:

  • What are the different versions of AI and automation in the context of a telephone customer journey?
  • What are the most relevant use cases for proposing a virtual conversational agent by telephone (callbot)?
  • Why does automation on the telephone channel develop multimodal uses and contribute to the adoption of digital channels?
  • Why is conversational user experience (UX) key in automation projects?
  • How can AI be put to the benefit of agents through the operational functioning needed to allow virtual agents and “augmented agents” to work together, and by giving meaning to this collaboration?
  • What are the key success factors associated with an automation project: methodology, target ROI, clear definition of a trajectory?
  • What are the prospects for callbots and voicebots at a time when Alexa and Google Assistant personal assistants are moving into homes? Are we going to a hub dedicated to voice?

Discover the answers in our white paper: The call center in an era of conversation – How automation is revolutionizing phone-based journeys.

Jean-François Teissier
Manager Odigo eXperience Services

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