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The rise of remote working and increased use of automated technologies, like AI chatbots, has undoubtedly transformed how contact centres operate. However, in order to continue providing an invaluable service, it is crucial that they continue to evolve and embrace modern technology.

With so much disruption persisting as a result of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, businesses are being inundated with calls from concerned consumers. Recent research from the Institute of Customer Service revealed that customer service complaints have hit the highest level on record. Agents are therefore feeling the strain, but intelligent investment in the right technologies can transform the process and empower the workforce.

Just last month, Invoca, an AI-powered conversation intelligence platform, raised $83 million in their latest funding round, largely to support product development on their contact centre offerings. The success of intelligent contact centre solutions shows the continued significance of the contact centre in modern business, but also highlights the need for investment to keep up with consumer demands.

Empower agents with the right support

With a shortage of qualified staff and a boom in incoming calls, businesses need to ensure their agents are feeling properly supported. Though remote and hybrid working has become the norm over the last two and a half years, businesses still need to ensure they have properly integrated their teams and given them everything they need to work comfortably and efficiently, wherever they are. This means a comprehensive working from home setup in terms of equipment and the latest technologies to support, rather than replace, agents.

As previously mentioned, the integration of automated solutions is key to this. Robotic process automation (RPA) can take over the more monotonous, time-intensive tasks and provide automated customer service for more basic customer queries. This reduces the volume of low-level work for agents and instead allows them to focus on more complex issues.

With their focus on more sensitive queries, agents require a more developed set of soft skills, to enable them to build a rapport with customers and quickly engage with difficult issues. It is therefore up to firms to ensure their employees are properly trained for these situations, so they can rely on their ‘super-agents’ whilst their automated solutions take care of more menial tasks.

Optimise tech to streamline customer relations

The process of empowering agents with the right technology ultimately benefits the customer experience too. For simple questions, rather than being held in queues waiting for an agent, customers can receive useful direction to relevant online resources. Chatbots are also becoming much more sophisticated, conversational and helpful as artificial intelligence continues to develop. And for issues that require more attention, customers can be assured they are receiving a more personal level of care from those empowered agents.

Call routing is another way to improve time efficiency on both sides too, again leading to a more personalised customer experience. This process essentially matches the right expert to the right problem, with a call management system automatically distributing calls before they are picked up, based on predefined criteria. It not only gets customers in front of an agent quicker, but ensures they are receiving informed advice suited to their situation.

By investing in contact centres now and ensuring they are ahead of the industry curve, businesses can avoid some of the biggest traps of customer service, vastly improving both customer and employee experience.

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