Using AI to Meet CX Expectations in Staffing Shortages
Staffing shortages in many industries have created a serious problem for customer experience (CX) teams. Although these customer support functions are running with fewer agents, they must still meet rising customer expectations and demand. Organizations need to figure out a way to offer more fast, efficient, personalized customer interactions with less human support.
Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a huge role in solving this CX challenge. In a time of limited staffing resources, AI technology can transform CX in remarkable ways. Here’s how conversational AI technology can help contact centers adapt to today’s staffing environment.
What AI-Powered Virtual Assistants Do For Your Team
Conversational AI is a vital tool for CX teams to adopt. It can help companies by handling simple customer queries, automating routine tasks and streamlining processes. Contact centers often face unpredictable or seasonal increases in the number of customer contacts, and AI’s ability to take over routine interactions, in turn, helps the CX team handle more complex customer issues in busy times. This can even help companies rely less on seasonal agents, which helps lower hiring costs and training costs overall.
The best conversational AI solutions use a variety of technologies to provide seamless customer experiences. The use of machine learning in these solutions helps virtual assistants become more intelligent as time goes on, meaning that these results continually improve the longer you use the solution. Also, natural language processing and automated speech recognition allows customers using self-service to talk as they normally do to get the right service. Rather than using robotic language to get their problem across, customers can use their normal speech and still have the virtual assistant understand their issue, no matter how complicated it is.
CX teams can also use AI’s analytics functions to learn about what customers want, how they’re using the product and what their sentiment is toward the product based on past interactions. Predictive analytics, specifically, helps organizations forecast customer needs and address issues more proactively.
The Impact of Using AI in Customer Service
Using AI in these ways can have many positive impacts on CX. Some of the major pain points for contact centers are long wait times, frustrated customers and overworked agents, and AI’s use cases address each of these effectively. An AI-powered virtual assistant can manage many customer interactions on its own, allowing agents to focus on fewer interactions and eliminating wait times for customers. Since waiting to speak to an agent is one of the most common frustrations for customers, reducing wait times also decreases frustration.
AI also allows agents to answer customer questions more quickly and easily, no matter how difficult the challenge is. For example, when an agent is dealing with a difficult customer, AI can instantly give them information that relates to the issue. Agents can edit the response if needed and send it to the customer in a timely, efficient manner. This both decreases agent stress and makes customers feel better taken care of.
Seamlessly integrating self-service and agent conversations is also a key feature of a successful conversational AI. Customers want self-service, but they also want to be able to talk to a person as soon as possible if they can’t get their answer via chatbot. According to experts, if you give customers an easy way to talk to a human, that can help them feel that their preferences are being met.
Don’t Forget These Important Ethical Considerations
Organizations should not forget to maintain the human touch while they harness the power of AI. While AI can help supplement customer service, it cannot totally replace agents and the human connection they offer customers. For this reason, it’s important to upskill or reskill agents appropriately so that they know how to best collaborate with AI technologies.
Another important consideration concerns data quality. Not every company cleanses their customer data as well as they should, and the lack of valid, clean data can impact the quality of analytics that AI delivers. It can also put customer data at risk. Companies need to clean data and treat it well — something that is easier said than done, since this process is not cheap. Still, this is an important step so that the AI tool is safe and accurate.
Ultimately, however organizations collect and use data, they should think through what their transparency level with customers will be and how they can make sure customers are as informed as possible about how their data will be used. Customers appreciate companies that are honest, clear and direct about how they use their data.
Take Your CX Into the Future With Conversational AI
Intelligent, innovative AI solutions are good for everyone involved. Agents have a more stable workload and see better performance and productivity with AI. Customers see their conversations run more smoothly with quick, helpful answers and a deeper, more personalized understanding of their needs. And organizations see the benefits of happier customers and more streamlined CX operations — even in times of staffing shortages and high customer expectations.
Conversational AI leader Interactions recently published a paper about how conversational AI can help contact centers optimize their labor strategy. To learn more about how to execute the technologies mentioned above, download the paper here!