If you’re wondering how best to automate your contact center’s customer service options, you’re certainly not alone. Contact centers are still going strong in 2020, but self-service processes powered by artificial intelligence are increasingly seen as a must for any successful customer service operation. Here’s why:
- 71% of customers across all age demographics still prefer the voice channel for customer service inquiries, according to CCW’s “Future of the Contact Center 2019” market study.
- Forrester has reported that 63% of customers are happy to use a self-service process, if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human.
- Salesforce has predicted that, by the end of 2020, 62% of enterprises will use artificial intelligence to leverage customer relationship management to grow business revenues.
So your question is likely not why or when to add automation, but how. To determine your top-level priorities, you need to understand what your customers want and expect in both self-service and in agent interactions, what your agents are currently doing to meet those expectations, and how automation technology can fill any gaps and provide greater flexibility to both your customers and your agents.
With all that in mind, would it surprise you to learn that you probably have a top automation tool already in place?
At Plum Voice, we believe that today’s programmable IVR is the true automation powerhouse of your contact center because it…
- Integrates with your databases, CRMs, and other data systems.
- Interacts with telephone systems the same way a web browser interacts with the internet — inputting, requesting and presenting dynamic information in real time.
- Drives communications through voice, web, SMS, MMS and social media channels.
In short, almost any task or process that requires numeric, text or speech input is likely a candidate for automation using IVR. And that means any of these tasks can be made available as self-service options to your callers. Let’s take a closer look at how IVR can facilitate your top automation priorities.
Improve your customer experience
IVR processes can give your customers what they want: quick, convenient self-service options that easily connect them to their own information and even proactively offer them options based on past needs. IVR links the data from your various systems to confirm caller identities quickly, then can use natural language processing to allow callers to state their purpose. Then the IVR routes them directly to the most appropriate agent or department while also forwarding their relevant information to an agent desktop.
With its increased connectivity, today’s IVR also gathers the most meaningful, actionable data and performs the analytics that dive deeper into customer interactions. These predictive analytics can help uncover necessary process improvements, smooth and shorten the customer journey, and even coach agents in what to say during real-time calls by providing screen pops and recommended actions based on customer data.
One of the main operational goals of self-service is often to reduce telephony costs by increasing rates of first call resolution and decreasing time spent both in calls and on hold. In addition, however, automating your callers’ most common, basic tasks through your IVR means their needs are handled for a fraction of the cost of a human-aided call. Self-service automation also frees up your agents to spend their time providing better, high-touch service to customers with more complex problems. The overall outcome is that you spend less for better customer service.
… And bring more money in
If your agents are spending a fair percentage of their time handling account inquiries and taking payments over the phone, these activities are prime candidates for automation. Your IVR can handle a broad range of account inquiries such as checking balances and claims statuses, accessing patient information, and much more. It can also integrate these account inquiries with your CRM and proactively remind callers when they need to make a payment, then connect them to an in-line payment processing application.
Today’s customers want to feel that companies value them and care about their needs. How better to build the customer relationship than to ask them for feedback and make changes accordingly? If your company needs a “voice of the customer” program, your IVR can handle that too. Automated, phone-based surveys gather timely, accurate feedback about your customer service, your products and promotions, even individual agents – while it’s still fresh in their minds. You can create one survey and then deploy it simultaneously over the phone and via the web, then distribute the web link through other digital channels for maximum exposure. The data collected from all channels is collated into one report, giving you thorough and actionable data you can leverage to optimize internal operations.
Moreover, you can use the same survey tools to develop a “voice of the employee” program. Use this data to optimize training, ensure consistent support across the entire organization, and incentivize and reward employees.
Gain greater flexibility now…
Today’s IVR accomplishes all this through APIs that connect to and integrate with a wide range of external technologies — no big cash layout for infrastructure updates required. The IVR uses pre-built applications that shorten your development cycles and rapidly accelerate your testing and deployment timelines. As mentioned above, they come with built-in analytics and reporting to make it easier to customize and optimize your applications for great customer experiences. Perhaps the best part, though, might be the fact that you don’t need an engineering team to program the apps; if you can drag and drop, your new IVR apps can be up and running in days or weeks instead of months.
… And into the future
There’s no question that artificial intelligence is complicated, cutting-edge technology. But at Plum Voice, we’re proud that we’ve made it accessible for any operations team and optimized it for voice interactions – not just now, but into the future. Our apps provide enterprises of all sizes with AI-powered IVR solutions for contact center automation. And since our solutions are certified with PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOC2, Cyber Essentials, and Visa & Mastercard Verified, Plum Voice technology provides data security you can trust.