Dana Shalev explains the AI-solution to the CX pressure-cooker.
Ask most consumers what they think of a company, and they’ll tell you that the experience with it is no less important to them than the products and services.
That’s right. A company’s customer service—which is shaped more and more by one-on-one interactions with customer service agents—is as critical as the actual offering itself!
Eighty-six percent of responders in a recent CX survey consider their experience with a brand’s customer care department as very important or important in shaping their opinion of the brand.
So, when it comes to winning over the consumer in a changeable environment, managing those interactions cannot be overestimated.
The Stress on Customer Service Agents
But there is nothing simple about managing the interactions between a consumer and brand. An interaction is not a single voice call, email, chatbot, or mobile app transaction.
Rather, the interaction flows continuously from channel to channel, from attended to unattended, and from voice to digital.
All this makes for a complex environment today—essentially, a pressure-cooker—in which customer service agents and supervisors can boil over in the heat, steam, speed, and stress of CX.
Some complexity can be a good thing, because it makes an agent’s tasks more interesting. But too much complexity can make the job stressful, and both the employees and their work suffer.
To understand the level of stress that agents feel on the job, NICE and CMSWire Insights conducted a 2023 survey of 366 contact centre supervisors and 356 customer service agents.
The survey found high levels of stress:
- 53% of customer service agents said the increase in omnichannel customer communication has heightened difficulty in managing them, with 81% of them agreeing that they manage more complicated interactions than they used to.
- 72% of agents said their work stress has increased by 30% or more over the past two years, which is a significant escalation.
- Even 62% of supervisors overseeing contact centre agents have found their work more stressful, perhaps as they are now bearing the mental load of agent stress on top of their own.
- To top it off, a majority of both agents and supervisors agreed that work stress is negatively impacting the customer experience. This is certainly the last straw given that those interactions are so pivotal.
Evidently, workloads and work stress are rising throughout contact centres, for both agents and supervisors—an unsurprising trend given how quickly digital experiences rose to prominence in recent years.
As customers become more comfortable forgoing physical experiences in favor of quicker, more convenient digital experiences, contact centres face a new, more demanding reality.
It’s important to address the major stress factors in a contact centre and offer solutions that help supervisors and agents better deal with stress’s main cause: complexity. This creates the potential to make everyone happier—supervisors, agents, and customers.
AI Solutions Lower the Temperature
Despite the survey’s grim numbers, there was a silver lining. One solution rose clearly to the surface as an important fix to the issues—AI.
Interestingly, supervisors thought agents would be resistant to AI, but it turns out that they are open to it.
And this is good because AI can in fact reduce the stressful parts of complex interactions, while still allowing customer service agents and supervisors to enjoy the engaging challenges of them.
Eighty-three percent of agents in the survey said they wanted to use AI to provide real-time assistance when they are solving problems.
And indeed, AI can reduce complexity and stress for agents in the contact centre by improving employee productivity and reducing handle times.
It enhances the quality and accuracy of interactions by making knowledge accessible and accurate according to their needs and relevancy.
Predictive analytics enable customer service agents to anticipate customer needs and proactively address potential issues, leading to a more personalized and efficient customer service experience.
AI-powered sentiment analysis gauges the emotional tone of customer interactions, helping agents tailor their responses, fostering more empathetic and effective communication, and ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Additionally, AI-powered applications can aid in the creation of knowledge assets by extracting relevant content from call transcripts and case notes, facilitating downstream knowledge management processes.
These advanced capabilities, including content augmentation, summarization, and next-best-action recommendations, all use AI to improve the employee experience.
Setting Agents Up for Success
Our platform has myriad offerings for the contact centre, including a purpose-built AI solution both for customer service agents and supervisors.
It promotes efficient work with fewer repetitive tasks and faster access to information, providing conversational knowledge, on-demand guidance, and task automation.
By removing some of the grunt work and enabling a smoother process, AI sets agents and supervisors up for more meaningful success. The result in the contact centre is less of a pressure-cooker and more of a happy simmer.
Rich WEM applications put the employee’s experience front and centre. Dedicated workspaces consolidating all the employee needs: channels, insights, knowledge, access to third-party applications, real-time assistance, advanced self-service tools for performance and quality management no matter the channel of use, and self-scheduling—anything the employee needs to prepare them better and make their day-to-day more efficient and satisfying.
Other companies have improved their KPIs for employees. Dominion National, an insurer of dental and health benefits in the US, overhauled their contact centre operations with CXone.
The company was able to make customer service agents better informed and reduce repeated information from callers.
Enhancements in supervisory tools reduced the amount of manual effort required of senior call centre staff. These improvements boosted agent efficiency and produced a meaningful lift in service levels to 86.3%.
Dominion rolled out live customer chat via NICE CXone, leading to quick wins and further enhancements.
Chat volume steadily grew, until 14% of contacts were through chat, yet the agent team has remained small, since they can answer chats faster and more easily.
Customer service agents themselves can reach out for help via an internal chat, leading to more efficient, faster, and better resolutions than before—and greater confidence for agents that they can get the timely, expert advice when needed.This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of NICE – View the Original Article
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