Leadership Conversation / 10.03.2021

Beyond Cost Reduction: Using Automation to Achieve Strategic Business Outcomes

By: Vijai Shankar, VP – Product Marketing

While everyone is anxious to see a return to normalcy in their work and home lives, that doesn’t mean that they want customer service to return to pre-pandemic standards. Problems such as long wait times, frustrating interactions, and lack of follow-up didn’t start when the pandemic did. The challenges of the pandemic exacerbated existing, systemic issues across the contact center—making it perfectly clear that customer service is broken for many companies.

However, there are exceptions. Some brands have begun transforming their agent and customer experiences using conversational AI and automation.

Adopting Automation 

According to Bain & Company, “companies that invested more in automation before the pandemic have weathered the crisis better than others.” An automation survey conducted by the management consultancy firm reports those companies generated higher revenues and experienced fewer disruptions to the supply chain, workforce productivity, and demand.

These results highlight an important point: AI-powered automation in the contact center is not only about reducing costs, but also about achieving more strategic business outcomes—higher revenue, customer satisfaction, and loyalty, for example.

Achieving Strategic Outcomes with CSA

To move beyond cost-cutting, contact centers must apply conversational AI and automation throughout the customer journey, optimizing every conversation by enabling agents to be more productive and empathetic while personalizing the experience for customers.

Use Case #1: Improve the agent and customer experience

Real-time conversational analysis can assist agents with alerts and guidance for the next-best action. The combination of AI and machine learning improves both the agent and customer experience and drives revenue by understanding the intent and sentiment of customers to ensure their queries are resolved with speed and efficiency.

Use Case #2: Reduce after-call work 

Using AI and automation to reduce after-call work shortens average call waiting time while reducing average handle time from 2.5 minutes to 30 seconds to deliver dramatic efficiency gains and return on investment. A conversational service automation (CSA) platform can automatically listen and transcribe calls in real time and then present the call summary after the call is completed for the agent to edit and confirm before automatically updating relevant systems. The customer experience during the call remains conversational, while errors are reduced and less time is required after the call to properly conclude it.

Use Case #3: Automate promises management

A new area of automation is promises management, which reduces repeat calls and agent effort, while improving customer satisfaction. Using robotic process automation (RPA) within the CSA platform, contact centers can automate promises management to extract, track, and fulfill commitments made during agent and customer conversations, thus integrating and automating the front and back office. The CSA platform tracks promises and commitments made by agents in real time during the call, aligns expectations with customers immediately following the call, and manages fulfillment after the call.

Our survey of U.S. consumers from November 2020 reveals that more than 84% of people who have interacted with a contact center expect some form of follow up or follow through. Given the volume of calls and the commitments made during each interaction, tracking and fulfilling each of these promises accurately and as timely as possible is a monumental effort when done manually.

Realizing the benefits of automating promises management, 67% of contact centers surveyed by Uniphore in December 2020 stated that a promises management solution would be extremely valuable and a further 31% agreed that it would be somewhat valuable.

Creating an Operational Backbone for Automation

The above automation examples and others achieve strategic outcomes by using a CSA platform as an operational backbone to make customer service more convenient, faster, responsive, and personal. By optimizing and automating every conversation, your contact center can deliver measurable business value beyond cost reduction—including greater revenue, higher customer satisfaction, and increased loyalty.

Learn more about the different levels of automation maturity in this white paper “Conversational AI and Automation Are Transforming Customer Service: An Automation Roadmap for Contact Centers.