Digital Tools for Human Engagement in Contact Centres

Digital Tools for Human Engagement in Contact Centres by Steve Ellis, Partner, Leadership & Learning, TTEC

The world of work is changing; becoming faster, smarter, and more connected.  Just look at Uber, one of the world’s largest transportation companies which owns no taxis, or Airbnb, a large accommodation provider with no real estate. Innovation is teeming, and every industry is finding new ways to deliver more convenient and memorable experiences through technology.

But remember, customers shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting from digitalisation. Employees are just as important, especially in our industry. Digitalisation and technology-based learning is becoming essential for delivering a better employee experience.

So how can you make the most out of technology to engage, inspire, and develop individual employee potential?  Digital tools and methods are key for unlocking genuine employee engagement that blossoms into amazing customer interactions.

The right bot for the job 

As Jack Welch, the former CEO of American company, General Electric, once said, “An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” If your organisation is serious about this performance mindset, then your digital development needs to happen in the field and in the moment of need.

Some of the best examples to bring this to fruition include artificial intelligence (AI) bots, and knowledge management platforms to assist with content curation and sharing knowledge across the enterprise.  As customers continue to demand services that are omnichannel, 24/7, and personalised, companies need to connect strategy and technology to keep up, let alone stay ahead of competition. This may help industries save up to as much as £5.97 billion per annum by 2020, as stated by Juniper Research. Developing an enterprise-wide strategy around implementation of these collective tools can vastly improve your business’ customer experience.

The benefits are twofold 

By enabling bots, customer service centres can deflect calls by allowing the bot to handle simple enquiries that can be pulled from the knowledge base, such as opening hours, delivery options, complaints, and FAQs. At the same time, the deflected calls enable associates to take care of higher priority and more complex tasks. We have seen tier 0 and 1 interactions deflected by up to 30 to 50 percent in our own work.

This can then result in an associate reduction scale without driving further hiring needs, allowing those in place to be trained more efficiently. The training process can be furthermore developed by bots that can ‘role play’ realistic scenarios while providing feedback and coaching. This can make your associates feel better prepared and empowered to meet customer needs before they have even stepped onto the floor.

Backed by more than 35 years of experience in contact centre management, our proven training and development methodologies have led to improvements in associate speed-to-performance up to 50 percent, while also cutting down training to about half of its original time. Additionally, this knowledge and experience have contributed to preparing our intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) to be customer-ready.

The need for the human touch  

Standalone technology is not without its faults. More often than not, if the quality of natural language understanding (NLU) is weak, it’s easy to fill the highly scripted systems with casual language. Despite the bots’ “misunderstanding” of the customer’s concerns which contributes to customer dissatisfaction, many bots are unable to escalate to a human associate properly, prompting the customer to repeat their question and inevitably building further frustration.

Hence there are huge benefits of continuous updates, quality assurance and optimisation to review the bot’s ability to process casual language. Or at a minimum, provide functionality which enables the bot to escalate to an associate if it is unable to resolve the customer need.

In addition, since bots aren’t connected to key systems, many bots have very limited personalisation. This is a real challenge for a society that’s grown to expect consistency of personal touches in their shopping experience, especially if we keep up with the general trend of moving towards AI and automation. And in the long run this technology can have amazing results. Gartner predicts that AI-powered tools can help half a billion users save up to two hours a day with online interactions.

Smart learning from the start 

Digital systems can become an essential part in assessing employee training and services. Analytic models can be designed to improve call-centre metrics including AHT, NPS and CSAT Scores, Retention, and FCR.

One such capability relates to reduction in voluntary and performance-related attrition costs by identifying top performer attributes, best instructors, and areas for improving access to knowledge. In addition, digital tools can give you a 360-degree data-driven view into trends that show operational improvements to further improve your customer service.

All this extremely valuable input can be distributed via dashboards to managers, operational leaders, and executives to create a common data language to drive positive change.

Moving forward 

With all these digital systems providing data on productivity and performance, customer experience managers must take away key insights and apply them through data-driven strategies and inspirational leadership.

AI, bots, and technology will continue to play a central role in enabling new types of innovation. Research from Ubisend demonstrates this very point with 69 percent of customers stating they would talk to a bot before a human if it can provide instant answers. Which means for now, and for the better, contact centre customer and employee experience will have to be a partnership between artificial and human intelligence. In many cases, we are already seeing digital development and training creating emotional wins with employees and customers alike.

Additional Information

Steve Ellis is a partner in learning and performance at TTEC Digital, where he specialises in employee experience and engagement, leadership development, and organisational culture alignment.

For additional information on TTEC Digital visit their Website

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