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No one likes to talk about economic trouble, but it’s pretty unavoidable right now. It’s dominating headlines and it seems a recession is on the horizon, which inevitably will lead to cuts for many. However, despite going against all instincts, recessions can be a great time to invest in your technology.

That may sound ridiculous on the surface, but investment in digital transformation now will set you apart from the competition further down the line. This is particularly pertinent within contact centre technology. Consumers are understandably agitated and will be looking at all sorts of avenues for managing their bills and services, so customer service is more important now than ever. And people do remember the companies who served them best in their time of need.

So, how should businesses be investing in their contact centres, not only to support customers in a time of need, but also to streamline their processes and do more with less as budgets tighten?

Less time on simple queries, more considered support

AI and automation are essential parts of the future contact centre, especially in times of exceptional call centre traffic. These technologies are all about streamlining the customer service process, giving agents more time to do the most important parts of their jobs and consequently leading to better customer service.

So how do the two technologies work when a query comes in? In very basic terms, AI acts as the ‘brain’, deciphering a customer’s needs and deciding the best course of action. Automation is the ‘body’, delivering on the brain’s findings and addressing it accordingly. Like our brains and bodies, the two work together.

So, when intelligent AI sees a simple query come in, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can take over and provide automated customer service for more basic customer queries, directing customers to relevant resources or solutions. This means hundreds of customer engagements can be taken away from an agent’s workload and instead allow them to focus on more complex issues, where a human touch is more valuable.

The customer service utility belt

Another way to save time and ensure agents are putting their skills to best use is through call routing. This system matches agents to problems based on their specific expertise, with a call management system automatically distributing calls before anyone even picks up the phone. Therefore, when a customer does need human assistance to help with their problem, they’re getting someone straight away who knows what they’re doing and can get to the bottom of that specific issue in as little time as possible.

Whilst all this is done to ensure a fully informed agent is on the other end of the phone, even these experts can’t be expected to have all the answers off the top of their head. That’s where really interesting technologies like agent-assist come in. This tool, provided by our partners over at Five9,  listens to the conversation a customer and an agent are having, and instantly provides real-time suggestions to agents on the best course of action. It uses multiple data sources, including customer reference numbers, to provide suggestions for the agent to offer up, adding another layer of knowledge and usefulness to the customer service agent’s arsenal.

Investing for now and the future

All of these technologies are engineered to make the entire customer service journey as seamless as possible. It lightens the load on agents, empowers them with a more sophisticated skillset and increases the likelihood of meaningful experiences for customers.

Intelligent investment in your contact centres now will ensure that resources are being optimised, making your organisation leaner and more efficient ahead of a possible recession. It also means that customers are getting the best service possible when they need it most. That is something that won’t be forgotten in the long term, and customers will repay that service with their loyalty in years to come.