Business Insights & Tips f Matt Grech hJanuary 03, 2019

6 Types of Call Center Automations You Should Have in 2019

This digital transformation we are directly in the middle of has been revolutionizing the way we work, and live our lives. The latest technologies are constantly simplifying complications, enabling us to focus our attention on the most important tasks.

In general, contact centers specifically tend to always be on the cutting edge of the latest technologies, just look at the best edge call center software options out there. The unique business goals, requirements and challenges of a Contact Center means that these organizations are always looking for new ways to improve processes and efficiency. Of course, the digital transformation has been all about that, with tools like cloud based platforms and multi-channel solutions.

While we cannot deny the sheer level of capabilities introduced with an omnichannel platform, the latest trend that truly seems to be revolutionizing the contact center landscape is the introduction of automations.

What Makes Call Center Automations So Critical?

Simply put, automations are all about saving time and energy -- and contact centers are all about saving time and becoming more efficient. So, these tend to really go hand in hand, it's almost as if automations were made specifically for contact centers.

Contact Centers should always be looking to optimize their processes, but specifically in such a way that empowers their live agents, their actual humans, to work not only more efficiently but better as well. Beating a dead horse, the customer experience is what matters most right now, and agents need to be empowered to deliver positive interactions, for example, by implementing these cold calling tips.

That's where call center automations come in, handling most of the boring and repetitive tasks. With agents spending less time entering data into a CRM, or switching between applications to find the right product number, they can focus more on the actual conversation, and best serving the client.

Internal vs External Processes

A slight distinction I would like to make before jumping right into the contact center automations themselves is the difference between internal and external functionality. Contact center agents are mostly dealing with these two sides of the same coin, on one hand they have behind the scenes processes like collecting data, or switching between apps to handle different channels.

On the other hand, agents are also dealing with their external processes, interacting with clients specifically. Call center automations for both of these forms of tasks exist, and should be properly leveraged to best assist live agents.

For example, Chatbots are probably the best example of customer-facing contact center automations, interacting with clients and gathering the basic info and context so agents can focus on the more complex aspect of the interaction, solving the issue.

The Best Call Center Automations For 2019

Now this is not a complete and total list of all call center automations that exist, in fact some of these are more so overall groupings of automations that can be broken down into specific tasks. We are going to highlight some of the crucial automations that contact centers should integrate into their processes coming in 2019.

A number of providers and vendors are beginning to offer a large number of call center automations, so we are going to focus in on some of the really powerful and widely available examples.

Automated Interactions

Starting right where we left off, some of the easiest to understand contact center automations come in the form of automated interactions. As we have discussed in the past, customer self-service is becoming not only a popular option for clients and customers, but an integral part of the contact center's operations as well.

What Is It?

The umbrella term of automated interactions can mean a number of different contact center tools. Chatbots, for example, are the most obvious example of an automated interaction. Any form of Customer Self Service tool can be considered an automated interaction, which also includes features like an online knowledgebase or an AI powered IVR.

What Does It Do?

As I mentioned previously, Chatbots can initiate a conversation with clients browsing an organization's website, and prompt that client with questions about their browsing history. After gathering some basic info, the Chatbot can then escalate the interaction to a live agent if it meets the right criteria.

This information the bot gathers provides context for what the client is looking to accomplish, enabling an agent to enter the interaction with the upper-hand: they know what the client is looking to do, so they know how to better serve the client.

Why Does It Matter?

These call center automations all fit within this same context: provide the client with some tools to search and explore on their own, but also gather context and intent to better assist the agent.

Again, by providing agents with deeper context, they do not have to essentially waste time trying to find out what the client wants. Chances are, the client already spend a lot of time on the website, and is calling because of a specific issue. Instead of having to explain this all to the agent, why shouldn't the agent already know the steps the client took?

Automated interactions enable the clients to seek help on their own, and input data that will provide agents with context if and when the client reaches out for human support.

Real World Examples

Forecasting Automations

Contact Centers are no strangers to data, by any means. On the contrary, contact centers are almost primarily concerned with data, like customer information, product information, sales information, and more. But the power of data cannot be realized without the proper tools to help make sense of it all.

What Is It?

Automated Forecasting can more specifically help organizations better understand their data, and how to optimize around it by doing a lot of the thinking for us. Forecasting is all about utilizing data to understand trends, and make predictions based on those trends discovered in existing datasets.

What Does It Do?

These absolute massive sets of data collected by Contact Centers should not be ignored, and there are already a large number of analytical tools that organizations can use to sort through all of this data.

To help better understand the potential outcome of a situation, and of course save time, forecasting contact center automations can be utilized to interpret these large sets of data. These powerful automations can compare and combine multiple parameters or methodologies, evaluate hundreds of thousands of potential outcomes, and even predict the proper course of action to take based on the insights uncovered.

Why Does It Matter?

It's all fairly simple, contact centers have massive, massive sets of information. Whenever a client or customer reaches out or does business with a contact center, that interaction is recorded. Within that interaction will be even more detailed information, including customer information, payment information, interaction history, notes and details from the agent, transcripts, and much more.

But even more than just than customer data, contact centers are also collecting data on their specific processes: how many calls are received, how long calls last, how many issues have a first call resolution, how many viewers are on your website, how many using the app, the list goes on.

Forecasting automations are essential in helping contact centers and decision makers ultimately arrive at the best conclusion. This data can and should be leveraged, and these call center automations make that process not only realistic, but much more insightful as well.

Real World Examples

Workflow Automations

It almost goes without saying that contact center agents have a lot on their plates. Between interacting with clients and the sheer amount of attention that takes, managing internal interactions, inputting data, switching between applications, and sometimes even covering multiple channels, it’s a lot.

But this is what call center automations are all about, making our complicated lives easier. Workflow automations do just that -- automate the workflow of a contact center agent, simplifying their entire process.

What Is It?

Workflow automations enable agents to setup automatic tasks, allowing AI to handle the really repetitive aspects of their daily process. These automations can be as simple as switching applications or locating information for agents, inputting data, or even more complex like following up with leads -- at the end of the day, these automation simply complete tasks things for agents.

What Does It Do?

As I mentioned, workflow automations can be setup to handle a large number of tasks, whether that be sending emails, or organizing and raising invoices. But, of course, your agents do not need to have a degree in computer science to understand how to setup these automations.

Generally with simple drag-and-drop visual editors, normally utilizing simple if>then logic, agents can create their own AI powered workflows, like if an agent finishes a phone call, then the system should send out a follow up email.

Of course these can become much, much more complex. Users can instruct these automations to pull in relevant information into the email, like call context or purchase history. At the end of the day, workflow automations are capable of running just about any business process a contact center agent has to manage.

Why Does It Matter?

Freshsales made a good point in their explanation, that when tasks are repetitive they eventually become boring and mundane, and when they become boring and mundane people can make mistakes. So instead of being bored, and making mistakes, just let the machines do it for you.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal here is to simplify the overall working processes of a call center agent’s daily routine, so that they can focus on the tasks and interactions that truly matter. With such a massive focus being placed on the customer experience, every little detail within an interaction must be thought through.

By unloading the responsibilities of an agent, and really removing some of the more boring and less intensive tasks, agents are freed up to truly focus on every single interaction with their undivided attention.

Real World Examples

Automated Agent Guidance

We all need a helping hand every once in a while, no matter how good we are at our jobs. Collaboration is just an important aspect of modern work, and this is true for call centers as well. And of course, being an important aspect of call centers, there is a call center automation for that as well.

What Is It?

Agents have a lot to juggle at once when interacting with a client. Those dealing with sales and payments have to worry about PCI compliance and keeping information secure, medical offices deal with HIPAA, and the list of regulations goes on. Automated Agent Guidance can provide agents guidance on how to handle specific situations, keeping all of these rules in mind.

What Does It Do?

Automated Agent Guidance can come in a couple of forms, but all have the same general goal: provide agents with real-time assistance and guidance during client interactions. These call center automations can come in the form of chatbots even, and will directly interact with your agents.

They can read the situation, and generally include tools like natural language processing, and sentiment analysis to understand what is being said. Agents will receive contextualized guidance during the interaction, including solution suggestions, next best action, troubleshooting steps, and even guidance to avoid legal issues.

When not in the form of AI powered bots, automated agent guidance can also include agent scripting, visually mapping out processes and procedures for agents, as well as auditing, testing and reporting functionalities.

Why Does It Matter?

At the end of the day, we all want our teams to do the best work they can, so we need to provide them with the right  tools for the job. Instead of just throwing your agents out into the ocean with a life raft and nothing else, provide them with a life-line.

Call center automations, after all, are all about simplifying the processes and complexities of interacting with clients and callers on a daily basis. Just like workflow automations can take out the lack of thinking, automated agent guidance can assist with the complex thinking as well.

This isn't replacing your agents, but instead equipping your agents with, as I said, a life-line -- a personal assistance resource to provide guidance and help when necessary. This of course provides your agents with better information, better actions to take, but also frees up the time of managers and administrators who no longer have to assist agents themselves.

Real World Examples

Sales Automations

A bit of a large umbrella, a big aspect of call center automations comes in the form of automating marketing and sales tasks specifically. These call centers have a unique challenge of not only interacting with clients, but hooking them as well. Automations can assist agents in simplifying these processes, again to focus on the interactions and ensure a sale.

What Is It?

Sales and marketing automations, as a general term, includes automating just about any task related to the sales and marketing process. More specifically, this could tasks like customer onboarding and fulfilling interactive and customized call center sales campaigns.

What Does It Do?

Sales automation focus on really simplifying and automating the sales process, ultimately looking to shorten the sales cycle and leading to more closed deals. The best way to do this is to of course bring in relevant customer information and data to help provide a more personalized experience -- but this is time consuming.

These call center automations not only enable agents to automated the routine tasks, like sending announcements or follow up emails at the right time in the sales cycle, but can also bring in that personalized touch by leveraging the massive data contact centers collect.

Think of it this way, sales automations can send out automatic text messages for announcements, blast out personalized sales offers in emails based on purchase history, send out appointment reminders or order and shipment information, or even reward clients with loyalty programs.

Why Does It Matter?

This all comes back to the same concept, at the end of the day, providing the best experience for your clients, by making your agents' lives easier. When it comes to the sales process, the mundane tasks of following up with clients can take up a lot your agent's time, yet fall short of hitting the mark.

Simply put, an automation can much more quickly utilize an email template, locate and input relevant customer information, and send out an email blast to numerous clients all at once -- much, much quicker than a human could.

These call center automations are not only removing responsibilities from the plate of representatives, but they can also do a better job at the same time, truly leveraging the data contact centers collect.

Real World Examples

Scheduling Automations

Let's not forget that a call center ultimately wouldn't be able to successfully operate without proper planning and management. After all, that is why workforce management software is so commonly bundled and found with call center software specifically. And of course, there are  call center automations for when it comes to workforce management and planning, as well.

What Is It?

Automated scheduling is of course just like the name states, automated scheduling. A large aspect of managing a call center's workforce is creating an effective and comprehensive schedule. This might seem simple, but scheduling is a complex task and must be done right to ensure agent's skills and availability are leveraged for the most successful outcome.

What Does It Do?

The process of creating a schedule for a call center can be rather complex. Decisions must be made, and a lot of data must be taken into account. Even just the task of lining up all the different available schedules from each representative, and then attempting to align and overlap time-slots to ensure everyone is scheduled, and there are no gaps, is difficult enough as it is.

So automated scheduling utilizes artificial intelligence to construct the perfect schedule. For example, Genesys' new AI powered automated scheduling utilizes rule-based algorithms to process the massive data sets of agent availability, business hours, and more.

Essentially, creating the perfect schedule is like a puzzle -- the pieces are agent availability, and they must fit within business hours, and there cannot be any gaps. AI can handle this puzzle much better, and do it for us.

Why Does It Matter?

Again, call center automations are about simplifying and improving, so why not let AI handle the workforce management part of the process as well? This is what AI is particularly good at, managing massive sets of data and numbers, and organizing that data into a proper pattern.

Scheduling is a massively time consuming task, and simply removing that responsibility from the hands of managers enables them to focus on more important tasks, again removing the busy-work. But at the same time, AI can uncover insights that humans may not recognize, and within record time.

So of course it then makes perfect sense that the process of scheduling will just be handled by another call center automations.

Real World Examples

Finding The Right Balance

Automations are incredibly helpful, and without a doubt will become a staple in all contact centers if they haven't already. As AI and similar related technology continues to evolve and grow even further, call center automations will only continue expand in capabilities.

However, I think it is important to remember that this doesn't necessarily mean human interactions will go away. This is something I've discussed previously with chatbots. The idea isn't to flat-out replace human representatives, but instead to support them.

Call center automations are not the ultimate endgame for , but they are rather a means to help agents do better work by saving time, and ultimately saving money. Humans are absolutely necessary for a large number of interactions that escalate beyond simple requests .

We have to remember, AI is still within its infancy. But 2019 will be an interesting year to see how call center automations continue to evolve, and if it hasn't already now is the time for your organization to jump on board.

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