In an effort to operate more efficiently and streamline their organization’s communications, businesses have turned to automation and artificial intelligence (AI). According to Business News Daily, “Automation is about implementing a system to complete repetitive, easily replicated tasks without the need for human labor. Every business process, such as human resource management and customer service departments, is on the table for automation, especially as technology becomes more sophisticated.” Automation empowers businesses to free up from mundane tasks, but is it empowering your customers or making them feel like just a number?
One element of automation that has risen in popularity in recent years is sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis allows you to leverage automation in multiple ways: first, to smart route calls to agents that are better equipped to handle certain scenarios. An example of this would be routing an angry caller to a call center agent who is skilled in de-escalation. You can also use sentiment analysis to remove the subjectivity from call ratings— rather than waiting for a customer to rate the call or an agent to rate their own service, an algorithm identifies words and tones that would make the call a success or not. Lastly, today we can use AI to automate smarter interactions and create automated template responses for agents to approve and distribute, ultimately saving them time and free them up to complete other tasks.
As technology advances and more processes within the contact center fall under the AI umbrella, businesses walk a fine line between simplifying the customer experience and maintaining the human connection that is so critical to customer loyalty and satisfaction. Creating that bridge requires insight into what customers want and finding ways to incorporate the human element into your call contact interactions, whether or not callers speak to a live agent.
At the heart of it, voice powers your business—whether it’s a conversation, call, or meeting. It’s the foundation of how your organization interacts and gets work done, and is one of the main channels businesses rely on to connect and engage their customers. Ultimately, both companies and their customers respond more positively to a personalized, voice-centric experience.
Customers Want Personalization
From StitchFix subscription boxes that offer customized stylist-selected pieces to Netflix recommendations based on your viewing history, successful businesses understand that personalization is a key element in making the customer connection. According to a retail study, 86% of retail consumers surveyed said that personalization has at least some impact on what they purchase and 25% say personalization significantly influences what they purchase.
However, it’s important that businesses today have the technology in place to achieve that customer satisfaction and even exceed customer expectations. As companies are finding new ways to provide the best possible experience to their customers, contact center technology is being used in more places than the traditional call center. Modern contact center technology allows customer data to be stored and hosted in the cloud, and ultimately personalize interactions moving forward with the business relationship.
Customers Want Connection
While there are varying opinions on social media influencer culture, there is no question that social connections sell. Consumers want to feel emotionally connected to the brands they choose, and that connection can translate into significant profits. According to Harvard Business Review, “Fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied.”
Many businesses report that their ‘Meet the Team’ page is among the most trafficked on their site because at its core, business is about relationships and human connection. In a tangible way, your contact center can be a valuable tool in helping you nurture that caller connection— whether it be through intuitive AI and easily accessible live agents.
Additionally, contact center analytics can be leveraged to provide further insight into the customer and their needs. A top-of-the-line analytics engine integrates data from contact center and other UCaaS products to provide a complete picture of customer communications and agent performance. Ultimately, this allows you to better serve the customer by further understanding their thought process.
Customers Want Consistency
The retail study also showed that in addition to personalization, customer choice was driven by consistency. In fact, 69% or respondents say a retailers’ consistency across various channels affects their loyalty to the brand. When it comes to cloud-based unified communications, uniformity of voice and messaging helps create a consistent brand image, especially if your enterprise business is operating from multiple locations or globally.
For example, Omega World Travel, one of the largest female-owned travel agencies in the United States, leveraged Fuze’s call center data to better understand all areas of their day-to-day business as well as places where they could improve service moving forward.
“Part of the challenge whenever you have a workforce spread across the country —or even on different continents— is to have a pulse on what’s going on. Call center and telephony data is another piece that is very critical to servicing our customers. So with Fuze & InContact, now we have complete transparency in terms of how many calls are being serviced, to what customers, and how our SLAs are performing.” - Nadim Hajje, VP, IT & Data Analytics at Omega World Travel.
As technology advances, we are getting closer to developing text to speech AI that can pass the Turing test. However, we are not there yet, and even the best technology falls short of replicating the nuanced inflection and emotional cadence of the human voice. Text to speech has a useful place in cloud based unified communications, however when done incorrectly, it can feel robotic and impersonal, leaving callers feeling disconnected.
“When implementing telephony automation that will interact & transact with callers, personalization is the key to success. Clear, consistent, brand-driven recordings are a requirement, not a luxury when you’re in the enterprise space. We’ve seen customers go from a 22% caller abandon rate to a 6% caller abandoned rate, simply by implementing professional recordings into their IVR's.” - Saul Ives, VP of Business Development at Snap Recordings.
Businesses succeed when they strike a balance between automation and engagement; allowing consumers the freedom and flexibility to navigate automated systems but infusing it with brand-driven voice & messaging and live agents to create a personal connection.