Contact center solutions dial-up self-service offerings

Customers are getting used to automated contact center solutions and value being able to access help fast.
25 November 2022

Winning move: digital tools help contact center providers to hit their performance targets. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Delivering the best customer experience in the most efficient way is a surefire strategy for improving contact center performance. And while self-service operations may have had their critics in the past, today’s modern systems are transforming customer experiences. Multiple benefits make these digital interactions a valuable addition to the feature set provided through contact center solutions.

For example, French firm Malakoff Humanis – which deals in retirement products and has over 10 million policyholders – is ramping up the amount of inbound traffic that’s processed automatically. Contact center solutions provider Odigo, which supplies the tools used by Malakoff Humanis, reports that almost half of all the automated call flow is handled without agent intervention.

Self-service wins

In 2019, regulatory changes in the French pensions space meant that call volumes to providers increased. Without self-service operations, firms such as Malakoff Humanis would have struggled to maintain customer experience expectations. Powering this change are improvements in natural language processing that have made systems much more accurate for operators and less frustrating to use for customers.

Improvements in contact center solutions allow agents to focus their efforts on customers that need their assistance the most. Often, these are high-value interactions that support company growth. What’s more, digital solutions – if properly designed and well implemented – can operate reliably 24-7 and provide customers with a consistent experience.

Data generated through self-service operations makes it straightforward to keep an eye on performance and alert managers when action needs to be taken. Also, the use of automated tools adds rails to make sure that company messaging is uniform in communications between a firm and its customers. There are other plus points too.

Advances in sonic branding, make it possible for contact centers to offer an engaging and memorable experience. Systems can tap into a variety of audio assets. And while these may be different, they all reflect the core values of the organization (thanks to AI-enabled feature matching) – for example, emphasizing trust, clarity, and commitment.

Voice update

Today, there are hundreds of synthetic voices, and models are much more emotive and appealing than people would imagine. In fact, there’s scope to voice clone and make the experience even closer to receiving customer advice from an agent. Compared with a written message, voice has the capability to deliver information in a much more expressive way. But, naturally, contact centers need to help clients across multiple channels – catering to messages received over chat, via SMS, and from social media.

One of the challenges for contact centers offering multichannel interactions is how to measure and report on the quality of these services. Integrating data from phone calls, website queries, and various social media messaging isn’t a straightforward exercise. But without an up-to-date global view, contact centers risk gaps in the quality of the service that they provide. Solving this problem are quality and workforce management applications capable of scoring agent responses to client queries regardless of the channel.

US firm Polaris Industries – a maker of outdoor recreational vehicles – noticed an uplift in contact center performance when it switched from stagnant reporting to a quality management solution provided by Calabrio. In the former, supervisors’ shifts would be disrupted by having to manually update static data. And it meant that these knowledgeable staff were spending less time with contact center representatives.

Switching to a more streamlined, application-led tool allowed Polaris to subsequently meet its service goals every single month. A dashboard quickly shows current and historical performance and combines interactions across all channels. Rob Murnane, Polaris Dealer Support Supervisor, notes that the firm receives around half of its dealer inquiries via the web. And given digital trends, that figure is likely to grow over time.

Familiarization path

Customers are becoming more accustomed to self-service features and value the ability of digital contact center solutions to provide help fast. Waiting in a queue is a poor customer experience and stressful for agents, who have to work hard to charm clients who have spent a long time on hold. Self-service options can help agents in other ways too.

Automated speech-to-text can capture important details so that if it is necessary to bring an agent into the conversation, the issue can be resolved much more quickly. Accurate transcripts improve staff training, with live call transcription giving useful analytics and benefiting customer experience as well. Speech-to-text provider Speechmatics, writes that its systems reduce call times by 7 seconds, which for high call volumes represents a big saving and allows agents to help more clients.

Fraud detection can also be enabled through self-service channels – for example, by monitoring the cadence at which users enter information such as a customer number or date of birth. Companies such as Pindrop are able to generate a voiceprint, analogous to a fingerprint, which can be used to protect customers and contact centers against fraudsters.

Without a doubt, self-service offerings are changing the landscape of contact center solutions as the capabilities provided by automated digital tools continue to evolve. At the same time, as clients become more familiar with these tools and appreciate the benefits and staff get to spend more time on providing help and advice where it is needed the most, the value of such systems becomes better understood.