There’s no question that automation has had a profound impact on customer service with the larger shift towards artificial intelligence and cloud-based contact solutions. It’s allowed businesses to maximize their labor resources and improve efficiency. In today’s digital age, process automation is a necessity. The good news is that there’s a wide range of automation tools available on the market that can help maximize your customer service team.
In this article, we highlight some of the best automation tools for your contact center. We look at how these tools can help your business become more efficient and productive.
The automation of tasks has been a goal of businesses for centuries. The term automation was first coined in the early 19th century by the Czechoslovakian engineer, Josef Ressel. And since then, automation has continued to evolve and develop. With the advent of new technologies, it has become more sophisticated and widespread – especially within contact centers.
In the customer service industry, automation refers to the use of software to automate tasks such as agent guidance, workflows, and interactions. Businesses choose to automate their contact centers to improve efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. On top of these benefits, process automation also helps improve customer satisfaction by providing faster and more accurate service.
The Future of Automation in Customer Service and Contact Centers
The use of automation tools is likely to continue to increase in the customer service and contact center industry. As businesses strive to improve efficiency and productivity, automation tools continue to prove their use case. As customers demand faster and more accurate service, these will become even more essential.
While automation will likely never completely replace human customer service agents, it’s clear that process automation continues to play a key role in the future of customer service and contact centers.
The Benefits of Using Automation Tools
When used correctly, automation tools can have a positive impact on your business. The main benefits of automation are:
- Improved efficiency and accuracy
- Increased productivity
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Reduced costs
1. Virtual Agents
One of the most common automation tools used in customer service is virtual agent technology. Virtual agents are software programs that are designed to mimic human behavior. These can provide automated customer support. They can handle a wide range of customer service tasks. These include answering questions, troubleshooting problems, and providing information about products and services.
Chatbots are software programs that use artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic human conversation. They can be used to automate tasks related to customer service, sales, and marketing. Chatbots can actually help companies save up to 30% of their customer support costs by offering a lot of benefits. These include speeding up response times, freeing up agents for more challenging work, and answering up to 80% of routine questions.
Besides this, like virtual agents, chatbots can provide automated customer support. They have the ability to handle a wide range of tasks. These can be answering questions, troubleshooting problems, and providing information about products and services.
3. Knowledge Center and Scripts
Agent guidance systems are software programs that provide agents with step-by-step instructions on how to handle customer interactions. Two common resources within these systems are knowledge centers and scripts.
A knowledge center is a database of information that can be used by agents to answer customer questions. Following this, scripts are pre-written responses that agents can use during customer interactions. They both help improve agent productivity and efficiency while reducing the need for training and support from a supervisor.
4. Conversational IVR
Automation can also be used to make workflows more efficient. Workflow automation is the process of automating tasks and processes within a workflow. One of the most common tools to accomplish this is interactive voice response (IVR).
IVR is the process of automating customer interactions with a voice response system. Given that 76% of customers are calling on the phone when contacting customer service, IVR is a surefire way to increase your contact center productivity.
IVR enables users to interact with a phone system through the use of voice commands and keypad input. IVR systems direct users with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio.
They can handle large call volumes and can be highly beneficial for outbound calling. IVR can be used in many ways:
- Mobile purchases
- Making payments
- Customer service
- Placing orders
- Managing utilities
- Travel info
The Negative Impact of Not Implementing Automation Tools Correctly
While automation can have an incredibly positive impact on your business, it can also have a negative impact if it’s not implemented correctly. If automation tools are not used correctly, they can lead to increased costs, decreased productivity, and customer dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s important to carefully select these tools that are right for your business and train your agents on how to use them correctly.
The ROI of Process Automation
Automation reduces costs by automating redundant or repetitive tasks. It also increases efficiency and productivity by speeding up processes and freeing up agents to handle more challenging tasks. Process automation improves customer satisfaction by providing faster and more accurate service.
In fact, businesses that use automation tools can save up to 30% on customer support costs. It can also help organizations improve their customer satisfaction scores by up to 20%
ROI Breakdown by Tool
Given an average monthly agent cost estimate of $315,905, we’ve broken the ROI of each one of the most commonly deployed process automation tools.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is used to track and manage customer relationships. It can automate tasks such as sales, marketing, and customer service. The general benefits of CRMs include improved customer satisfaction, increased customer retention, and higher sales.
Embedded CRM benefits include:
- Extended customer information
- Full conversation History
- Integration to 3rd party systems (SORs)
- Utilization of messaging channels
On average, embedding CRM systems into your communications suite decreases average handle time (AHT) by 5% while increasing first call resolution by 5%. Given the cost per month of this CRM tool, we’ve calculated an average savings of $20,534 per month or 1,074% ROI.
Integrated Ticketing Systems
A contact center ticketing system is a collaborative software application that agents use to manage and keep track of customer service requests, or “tickets.” It’s designed to streamline the process of resolving customer issues by keeping all relevant information organized in one place. The benefits of a ticketing system are increased efficiency, better customer service, and improved agent productivity.
Integrated Ticketing features include:
- Extended ticket details/issue description
- Automated workflows
- Visibility to progress & SLAs
- Ticket attachment to customer profile
With an average 5% decrease in AHT and a 1% increase in first call resolution, our ticketing system produces a monthly savings of over $16,700 or 1,078% ROI.
We summarized what a knowledge center is and what the benefits are above, but let’s back up these claims with an actual number. Contact centers that employ LiveVox’s Knowledge Center tool – on average – experience a 10% decrease in average handle time. Using the same estimates as above, this means a contact center can save about $31,590 per month or see a staggering 4,233% ROI.
Benefits of knowledge centers include:
- Increases in first call resolution
- Enables quicker agent response to issues
- Provides clarity in version control
Scripts are often overlooked when it comes to improving ROI in contact cents. In reality, script tools decrease contact center AHT by 7.5% on average. That can amount to a total monthly savings of $23,693 or an impressive 3,150% ROI.
Benefits of Agent Scripting tools include:
- Fosters seamless agent onboarding
- Optimizes conversations
- Decreases AHT
Understanding Process Automation’s Impact on People and Processes
Automation gets a bad rap sometimes. People who aren’t familiar with process automation chalk it up to a technology that’s replacing human labor and will one day take over the workforce completely. With flashy media headlines and overarching misconceptions, it’s no wonder that artificial intelligence is misunderstood. The true application of automation couldn’t be further from this narrative. Let’s dive into the ways that automation impacts human agents and contact center processes.
Across industries, acquiring data has been the number one priority of the past decade. However, the biggest challenge that companies face currently isn’t the lack of data, but how they can actually utilize and apply their data within workflows. Unstructured or disconnected data is almost useless unless team members can easily glean insights from it.
This is where workflow automation enters the game. Automation tools connect and manage disparate data streams within contact centers. By connecting third-party systems to one source of truth, your agents can act on data in real time.
What Can You Integrate within Your Contact Center?
There are three main types of integrations that are useful to contact center operations: data, desktop, and workflow integrations.
Data integrations are all about giving your contact center a 360-degree view of the customer. This includes integrating data from your CRM, social media, order management system, and other software systems. LiveVox integrates data via:
- ETL: Extract, Transform, Load is a process in data warehousing where data from various sources is gathered. Then, it’s also transformed into a single format, and then loaded into a centralized location.
- API: An Application Programming Interface is a set of software protocols. These allow different applications to communicate with each other
- Function library: A function library is a set of pre-written code. This can be called upon to perform a specific task.
Desktop integrations are designed to make your agents’ jobs easier by bringing all the tools they need into one place. This can include integration with your phone system, chat tool, email client, and more. LiveVox offers an out-of-the-box integration with Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM. This means that our customers can take advantage of all the features and benefits of Salesforce within their contact center operations.
Our CRM also features:
- URL push: A Push URL is a link that you can share with a visitor or customer through an agent chat window. They can be a link to a useful article, a link to an important web page such as a pricing page, etc.
- iFrame: An iFrame, also known as an Inline Frame, is an HTML document that is embedded inside another document on a website. This allows agents to include content from external sources on your pages.
- Single-click access to other tools: Agents can quickly access the tools they need without ever leaving their LiveVox CRM window.
- Screen pops: When a call comes in, all relevant customer information “pops up” on the agent’s screen. This includes data from the CRM, social media, order management system, and more.
- Configurable desktops and scripts: With LiveVox, you can create custom desktops for each agent role. You can also configure scripts to meet the specific needs of your contact center.
Workflow integrations automate repetitive processes within your contact center so that your agents can focus on higher-value tasks. Integrated agent workflows lay the foundation for exponential digital & AI ROI by unifying processes, apps, and systems to address critical efficiency gaps. Workflow integrations can include automatic ticket creation, email notifications, data entry, and more.
Workflow integrations are important for two reasons. 1) They make it possible to automate manual tasks and 2) they create a seamless experience for agents by allowing them to access the information they need within one application. LiveVox offers a number of workflow integrations, including ticketing and script.
Process Automation Makes Humans Even More Capable
But what about process automation replacing humans? Automation doesn’t replace humans, it enables them to be more efficient, organized, and effective. Automated tools assist agents with tasks that are redundant or a waste of their time due to the abilities of technology. It frees agents up to actually apply their unique skill sets to more complex situations and tasks.
This is where AI comes in, which can automate tasks that are time-consuming or require a high degree of accuracy, such as:
- Data entry: Automatically populate fields in your CRM with customer data from your order management system, social media, email, and more.
- Lead scoring: Prioritize leads based on engagement and demographic data.
- Scripting: Automatically generate scripts based on customer data.
- Task management: Automate the creation and assignment of tasks to agents.
Picture a graph with three lines. The horizontal axis represents time. The vertical axis represents output or growth potential. The first line is general technological or computing capability. It travels across the graph without increasing much and then shoots up around the 1990s and exponentially continues to grow. The second line represents human capability. Compared to technological capability, it remains straight across the timeline.
The third line sits in the middle of technological capability and human capability. It represents the AI and automation tools that are currently on the market. While humans themselves don’t have the exponential growth potential of technology, the tools we use get us closer to the capabilities of technology’s computing power. They bridge the gap to help us accomplish outcomes better and faster.
Contact center management must prioritize the implementation of process automation to support their agents with the tools necessary for them to succeed in their roles. The goal should be to make the human component in the contact center more human by automating the tasks that don’t require a personal perspective.
The Bottom Line of Process Automation and Customer Experience
The customer experience is more important than ever before. In order to meet the demands of today’s customers, contact centers must employ automation tools. So they will enable them to provide the best possible experience. Automation tools can have a positive or negative impact on your business, depending on how you use them. To get the most out of process automation, carefully select the tools that are right for your business. Once you do, train your agents on how to use them correctly.
Automation doesn’t replace humans, it enables them to be more human. Automated tools assist agents with tasks that are redundant or a waste of their time due to the abilities of technology. It frees agents up to actually apply their unique skill sets to more complex situations and tasks.
About the Autor
Nick Bandy has over 25 years of executive leadership experience in the marketing and technology space, serving private, PE-backed, and public organizations. He founded and developed the SpeechIQ product which was subsequently acquired by LiveVox in 2019.