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A Perfect Pair: Artificial Intelligence in Call Centers

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As we are all familiar with, there are endless solutions that have been proposed to reduce customer effort and exertion so they have a great experience when reaching out to a contact center to have their questions answered and problems solved. Customer effort is a relevant factor in all businesses today because customers' needs are constantly changing and evolving and are expecting the most from all businesses. Customers want interactions with brands to be effortless, efficient, convenient and customized and that is just the beginning.

Yet, with all that is said about customers and their experiences agents have not been the primary focus. Agent effort impacts the customer's experience but also the agent's experience. Agent effort goes beyond doing what is in their job description but the tools they use could hinder their performance and could create issues in their efficiency.

Taking a moment to assess where agents could improve their experience and their customers is key. Agents already deal with a lot of unsatisfied and mean customers. To try to make them content with their service is a hard workload. This can cause ripple effects and hinder their colleague's workload because agents are trying to support one another. These ripple effects do not stop at other agents but yet overflow to the customers. They can pick up on stress and can realize that they are not picking up on the best version of that agent. Recognizing that there could be tools in the workplace that are slowing the process can open new opportunities to fix them and create an even better work environment. 

This is where Artificial Intelligence steps in to fix outdated problems by offering new and innovative solutions. AI can help mend some of the issues but it won't put a stop to anything permanently. It is necessary to identify where the effort is being expended on both sides with the customers and agents so both are getting the best experience possible. 

Understanding Where the Effort Comes From 

As I have noted, the effort comes from both agents and customers. Nothing where they both exude effort and how it is different is key to cultivating an efficient and stress-free contact center. The key to understanding where the effort is expended is hearing the perspective of agents and customers while simultaneously putting yourself in that position. 

1. Hearing Agents Points Of View

Listening to your agents is a top priority. They are the ones who can see where customers feel like the company is lacking and are able to direct the company in a positive direction where improvements can be made. Agents want to be heard and feel valued. Allowing them to express their concerns and where they feel stuck will create a positive work environment. By listening to your agents you are able to put yourself in their shoes which allows you to see the struggles they face. Understanding the high and low points of an agent's job and where they feel limited will allow for agents to have the most success in the future. Consistent and routine feedback will allow for continued success in the contact center. 

2. Hearing Customers Points of View

In many cases, customers are reaching out to you to have a question answered or a problem resolved. Since they are the ones who directly use your product, good, or service you must listen to what they have to say. A way to gather information when it is fresh in the customers' minds is a questionnaire after the phone call with a customer service representative. They are able to share the problem they had and if the agent was helpful in resolving it. Another way to get feedback is through social media and engaging with customers by responding to their questions or referring them to your website to learn more information. Customers always have options good or bad so it is important to not discount either and listen to what they have to say. Putting yourself in their shoes as a user of whatever your brand sells is important because it gives you the perspective of a consumer. Customers have high expectations from what they expect from brands nowadays, therefore, listening to what they have to say and implementing that information will allow for them to see that you care about their experiences and could continue to return to your brand. 

Finding a Solution

Implementing continued listening and understanding customers' and agents' perspectives allows you to find areas where improvement can be made. Knowing where there is too much effort being expended is where you can use AI tools. AI will be used in addition to the agents and not here to replace them. Processes that take up too much time for humans and are simple and mundane can be programmed to do by AI. Agents working in harmony with AI will create an efficient workplace where meaningful interactions can occur between agents and customers because their wants and desires were listened to. 

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