Every business is striving for more automation. But here’s the problem – ‘more automation’ is a bit of a vague goal.
Contact centers in particular are desperate to automate more core tasks. But where to start?
Consider the following example.
Delta Air Lines adopted conversational IVR technology that automates how its contact centers handle calls. The tech improved routing and provided callers with essential data without the need to speak to an agent.
These changes now save the company around $5 million per annum. And this saving is just from upgrading the company’s IVR. Imagine what your business could do if it put multiple automated processes in place!
You just need to focus on the most effective ones…
7 essential types of call center automation
Here are seven types of call center automation your business can implement. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it covers the approaches we think contact centers can get the most benefit from.
1. Call scheduling
Automated call scheduling lets you schedule calls based on predefined criteria. When a trigger occurs, your dialer places the relevant call, which is a good alternative to static lists.
To set up automated scheduling, you need to link up relevant data sources and select appropriate criteria to use.
In the past, outbound calling was mostly associated with spammy sales calls but that’s no longer the case.
In fact, for many businesses, outbound calling has become a core part of their customer service.
Here are some examples of when you might automatically schedule calls:
- When leads request a call back via a form on your website
- When an existing customer is approaching contract renewal
- When a customer hasn’t used your tool for a predefined amount of time
- When a lead visits a page on your website that suggests they are ready to buy
The benefits of automated call scheduling don’t end at call placement.
A good system selects the best agent to make the call based on factors like key skills and availability.
It also delivers customer data to the agent while dialing. When the customer picks up, the agent knows who they are and why they requested a callback.
Why is this important?
Because 75% of an average six-minute call is spent on agent research. Providing your agent with the information they need automatically could cut this drastically.
2. Customer retention processes
Automation boosts customer retention by ensuring your team takes action at the right times in the customer cycle.
This data-driven approach means agents don’t have to guess about when to make calls; automated processes do it for them.
For this to be effective, you need deep knowledge of the customer’s life cycle. Knowing when and why customers churn or make repeat purchases lets you set up automated processes to influence their decisions.
For example, having the right agent call when a customer is approaching time for contract renewal may be all you need to keep them onboard.
This isn’t the only automation that helps with retention.
You can also:
- Prioritize high-value customers by connecting them to the next available agent
- Send messages with offers relevant to particular customer segments
- Contact customers after a call to gather feedback and improve service, which is key to retention
- Provide proactive or pre-emptive service to help customers avoid or solve issues before they even know they exist
3. Conversational AI and IVR
What if I told you that customers could find the information they need from your contact center without actually speaking to an agent?
And that many customers prefer this type of self-service help?
You just need a way to provide them with the information they need. This is where IVR systems powered by conversational AI come into play.
These systems use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand speech and generate responses. They can solve customer issues independently, resulting in fewer calls for agents to deal with.
Conversational AI can’t solve all customer queries – at least not yet. But they are great at solving minor issues that take up time.
For example, it’s the perfect way to provide updates about bookings and deliveries or point customer’s towards resources and other help channels.
That frees up your agents to help customers with more complex needs.
4. SMS confirmations
SMS is an important customer support channel which over 90% of U.S. adults use.
Contact centers can set up SMS-based automation that deflects calls and provides further information about your services.
You can use SMS to:
- Send out messages to confirm appointments, sales, or deliveries
- Send post-contact messages to customers with a survey or form to gather feedback
- Set up automated replies. If someone calls when your contact center is closed, you can provide information about a better time to call
Automating each of these small tasks saves a little bit of time. When combined, this can result in some pretty staggering savings.
5. Personalized call routing
Better call routing results in fewer transfers, shorter handle times, better first contact resolution, and an all-around improved customer experience.
To route calls more effectively, you first need an understanding of who the customer is and why they’re calling.
Personalized call routing automatically gathers customer data from various sources. It uses this to route them to the most appropriate agent.
It’s a significant improvement on the standard “Press four if you have a billing issue” model many contact centers currently use.
Here’s an example of how it works:
Your IVR then kicks in to gather information about why the customer is calling.
With these two pieces of data, your system can effectively route the call to the right agent. Delta Air Lines used a similar system and reduced the number of misrouted calls by 15%.
6. Other forms of call routing
Personalized call routing isn’t the only way to route calls effectively.
You can use contact center automation to route calls based on a variety of criteria. Just choose the ones that meet your call center’s needs.
Consider routing calls based on:
- Location: Use the caller’s number to route them to a local call center. This is useful if you deal in multiple languages, or if you provide localized service.
- Campaign: Route customers to particular agents depending on the phone number they call. This is useful if you run multiple marketing campaigns simultaneously with different numbers for each one.
- Status: Use the account connected to the customer’s number to route them based on their status. Ensure high-value, VIP customers speak to a highly-skilled agent without having to hold.
You and your customers get an improved experience with fewer transfers and faster resolutions.
7. Virtual queuing
Over half of customers say the best thing companies can do to improve service is reduce hold time.
But it’s an unavoidable fact that you don’t always have enough agents on-hand to answer customer calls instantly.
Virtual queuing is the solution, and it’s easy to automate the entire process.
Here’s how it works:
- Customers call you.
- Your IVR picks up and, when there are no agents available, places the caller in a virtual queue.
- The customer hangs up and gets on with their day.
- Your team calls back when agents are available.
The great thing about virtual queuing is that you can automate the process based on the criteria most beneficial to your business. This could be agent availability, predefined time slots, or call volume.
You can even set up your IVR to collect caller information and the reason for the call. This means the agent has this information on-hand when they make the callback.
No-code platforms make automation easy
Half of call centers are hampered by a lack of automation. And the majority report struggling to connect different service processes.
But, help is at hand. No-code platforms make setting up the type of robust processes listed in this article simple. Just connect the relevant services – your CRM, IVR, and auto-dialer – and then build automation using pre-made components.