As one of the rare departments doing both front office customer interaction and back office work, contact centers are crucial in B2C and B2B functions. And because business leaders are aware of AI in contact centers‘ importance, they are investing to improve them. A 2022 survey shows that 95% of contact center leaders:
- Had already adopted
- Were in the process of adoption
- Or were planning to automate their call centers by 2023
If you are ready to automate your contact centers to reduce costs, lower agents’ workloads, and improve the operational efficiency, there are two automation routes for you:
- Using an end-to-end contact center automation software for holistic automation
- Leveraging workload automation tools, like RPA, to automate modular, simpler processes
The choice depends on your contact center processes and call volume, existing systems, and budget. But whatever your choice will be, this article can help you better understand what contact center automation is, its benefits, and highlight the top contact call center software and automation tools.
What is contact center automation?
Contact center automation is the use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to make contact centers, and call centers run more smoothly and efficiently. Contact center automation can improve customer service, lower costs, and improve operational efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and helping human agents.
Why is call center automation important?
According to Replicant’s 2022 report, the biggest challenges facing contact centers are:
- High and increasing costs (cited by 54% of leaders)
- Not hiring enough number of agents (cited by 49% of leaders)
- Mishandling rush hours and high call volume (number unspecified, but even call centers with 1000+ agents suffer from this)
Call center automation is important because it can solve these main challenges facing contact centers. Leaders agree. Based on the same report:
- 91% are prioritizing automation for 2023
- 72% believe automation reduces costs by at least 25%
- 75% of those who’ve already invested will increase their investment
What are contact center automation tools?
Salesforce is the CRM market leader and Salesforce Contact Genie enables multi-channel live chat supported by AI-driven assistants. Salesforce Contact Center enables workflow automation for many branches of the CRM and especially for the customer service operations by leveraging conversational AI technologies.
If you want to use singular automation tools, you can use the following tools:
1. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems
IVR systems enable customers to interact with an automated system through voice commands or keypad inputs. IVR systems reduce call center agents’ workloads by automatically routing calls, providing basic info, and solving simple queries.
Robotic process automation bots can automate back office, time consuming tasks like data entry and retrieval, generating agent schedule, logging call details, handling rule-based queries, etc.
3. Chatbots and virtual assistants
These AI-powered tools can engage customers through text or voice, answer FAQs, handle inquiries, and provide support in real-time. Moreover, once the knowledge base doesn’t have an answer to a question, or if the customer wants to speak to a live agent, they can be connected with one to solve complex customer issues.
4. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)
ACD systems are responsible for routing incoming calls to the most suitable agent based on predefined criteria, such as agent’s skill set, subject relevance, availability, and call priority.
5. CRM and ticketing system integration
Automated systems can integrate with CRM and ticketing platforms, providing agents with relevant customer data and enabling a more personalized and efficient service.
For instance, CXP is a specialized contact center itself, offering outsourced contact center service models to clients. They’ve started using UiPath’s RPA solution to improve customer satisfaction and reduce call time – although the latter is a secondary goal. When a customer calls, OCR and NLP bots read the number and link it to a specific customer profile before the agent comes on. This allows the agents to focus on problem solving and giving all attention to the caller, instead of navigating different systems to get the data they need for their work.
In total, CXP has:
- Automated almost 160,000 manual tasks
- Achieved 35% reduction in call times
- Freed up 13,200 hours of staff
- Increased Trustpilot ratings by 52%
- Increased data accuracy by 18%
6. Sentiment analysis and natural language processing (NLP)
AI-driven sentiment analysis can help in understanding emotions behind customers’ spoken and written communication, and adapting the support accordingly. NLP can enable better understanding of customer queries, enhancing the accuracy of responses and overall customer experience.
7. Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
CTI tools integrate between telephony systems and computer applications, allowing agents to manage a high volume of calls, access customer data, and use other software applications concurrently.
8. Quality management software
This software automates the process of monitoring and evaluating agent performance, identifying areas for improvement, and ensuring compliance with quality standards.
9. Analytics and reporting tools
These solutions collect, analyze, and present data on contact center performance, customer satisfaction, and other key performance indicators (KPIs), enabling data-driven decision-making.
10. Knowledge management systems
These platforms centralize and organize company knowledge, making it easily accessible to agents and ensuring consistent, accurate responses to customer inquiries.
What is a contact center automation software?
Contact center automation software, or call center automation software, is a comprehensive solution that combines various automation tools and technologies to streamline and optimize contact center operations. These software solutions are designed to automate multiple aspects of the contact center, such as customer interactions, agent tasks, reporting, and workforce management all in a single location.
So the difference between contact center software and modular automation tools is:
While automation tools like RPA and chatbots target specific, standalone tasks within the contact center, contact center automation software provides a more holistic approach, covering a wide range of functions, from customer interactions to workforce management.
Contact center automation software is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing systems, such as CRM, and telephony, providing a unified and cohesive automation environment. In contrast, automation tools require custom integration and maintenance for each tool.
Maintaining multiple singular automation tools may require more effort and resources, as each tool may have its own integration, configuration, and maintenance requirements. This can lead to higher long-term costs compared to a unified end-to-end solution.
As your contact center grows, you may need to implement additional automation tools to accommodate increasing demands. This can result in higher costs over time, compared to a scalable end-to-end solution that can handle growth more efficiently.
Using multiple singular automation tools may lead to inconsistent customer journey experiences and agent performance, as each tool may have different capabilities and limitations.
What are the top contact center automation software vendors?
Genesys, Five9, NICE inContact, Talkdesk, and Avaya are the top vendors based on:
- All having +1,000 employees
- Offering a comprehensive solution that coffers
- Chatbots and virtual assistants
- Automatic call distribution
- Workforce management
- Analytics and reporting
- CTI integration
But It’s essential to evaluate each vendor based on your organization’s specific needs and requirements to find the best fit.
For more on customer service
To learn more about customer service technologies, read:
- 4 Ways To Gain Competitive Edge With Intelligent Call Routing
- Top 7 Contact Center AI Applications: A Holistic Approach
- Top 10 Cloud Contact Center Solutions
- Top 9 Customer Service Chatbot Use Cases
- Voice of Customer (VOC): Steps & Top 5 Use Cases
And if you are looking for an AI tool to automate a customer service process:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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