Contact centers have become essential to modern businesses, serving as the nerve center of customer engagement and support. Back in the day, businesses only had call centers for handling voice calls to support customers.
However, contact centers are different from call centers. Contact centers handle customer interactions across multiple platforms—like voice calls, video calls, email, social media, and live chat—helping businesses provide seamless and personalized customer experiences.
Taking the omnichannel customer experience one step further, businesses now implement automation into contact centers. In this guide, we’ll look at this concept, answering the following questions:
- What is contact center automation?
- How can contact center automation help my business?
- What are examples of contact center automations?
- What are the benefits of an automated contact center?
Let’s begin with some introductory definitions.
What is contact center automation?
Contact center automation is the process of using advanced technologies to automate repetitive tasks and processes within a contact center. With automation, organizations increase efficiency and reduce costs while enhancing the customer experience.
The primary goal of contact center automation is to improve customer service by providing faster, more accurate, and context-aware responses. By automating routine tasks, contact centers can free up human agents to handle more complex and personalized interactions. This leads to a better overall customer experience.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are at the core of contact center automation tools, but other technologies, such as natural language processing (NLP), robotic process automation (RPA), and data analytics, also play significant roles.
How can contact center automation help my business?
If you’re looking into implementing contact center automation, here are several ways it can help your business.
1. Improved efficiency
Automation helps to reduce human agent workload, allowing them to focus on other tasks while enabling faster resolution of customer inquiries. When you automate routine tasks, like call routing, data entry, and even responding to simple customer inquiries, you free up your agents to focus on more complex and personalized interactions.
This increased efficiency leads to reduced wait times and a higher number of resolved inquiries. Customer throughput and satisfaction increase. In other words, organizations that lean on automation often see improvements in contact center metrics across the board.
2. Enhanced customer experience
Contact center automation equips your business to provide quick and accurate responses to customer inquiries. This is crucial, given that customers expect a lightning-fast response in today’s fast-paced, digital environment.
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can address common questions and troubleshoot issues—plus recommend products or services based on customer preferences. By offering prompt and accurate support, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Reduced costs
Automating certain tasks can lead to a reduction in the resources needed to facilitate customer interactions. With automation supporting your human agents, your organization can do more—increased customer throughput and faster and more precise customer interactions—with less. Ultimately, contact center automation will help you to optimize resource allocation, lowering operational costs by reducing infrastructure and equipment needs.
4. Heightened scalability
One of the key advantages of automation is its ability to scale as your business grows. Automated systems can handle an uptick in call volume or customer inquiries, without the need to hire or train additional agents. Even during peak periods of rapid growth, businesses can maintain a high level of customer service without incurring excessive costs.
5. Increased consistency
Contact center automation ensures a consistent level of service across all customer interactions. By following predetermined rules and guidelines, automated systems can eliminate the variability that can occur with human agents. This consistency helps businesses maintain professionalism, ensuring that customers receive the same high-quality service regardless of an agent's experience or knowledge.
Now that you understand how contact center automation can help your business, let’s consider some concrete examples.
What are examples of contact center automations?
As AI/ML technologies grow in sophistication, we see more ways to integrate automation tools into contact centers. Notable contact center automation includes the following:
Contact Center AI from Google Cloud
The Contact Center AI (CCAI) from Google Cloud “offers natural interactions that redefine the possibilities of AI-powered conversation.” Integrating these tools enhances your contact center with Dialogflow for NLP and conversational AI, speech-to-text transcription, and text-to-speech conversion.
These integrations significantly reduce the workload on human agents, routing routine inquiries to virtual agents. Twilio Flex partnered with Google Cloud’s CCAI to streamline the integration of AI into its Flex contact center.
Workflow automation and ServiceNow
Workflow automation platforms like ServiceNow help businesses handle IT tickets or support escalations. However, customers may wish to interact directly with support agents in your contact center and not just through opening or commenting on tickets.
With an integration between Twilio Studio, Twilio Flex, and ServiceNow, customers can reach a contact center agency directly from within ServiceNow.
AI-powered virtual assistants (also known as chatbots) can handle customer inquiries via live chat, email, or social media channels. By combining AI and NLP, chatbots can bring efficiency—without the need for a human agent—to many kinds of customer interactions.
Chatbots can provide immediate responses to customer inquiries, reducing wait times. These AI virtual assistants can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, allowing your business to scale up quickly when it needs to handle high volume. Chatbots are also always available, enabling you to provide round-the-clock service.
Interactive voice response (IVR) systems can guide callers through a menu using voice recognition or touch-tone input. This helps route your customers to the appropriate department or agent. With IVR, wait times decrease, as does the time-to-issue resolution. The result is reduced workload on human agents, improved customer satisfaction, and more efficient handling of large call volumes.
Customer data management
Customer data management consolidates and updates customer information from various sources. When your customer data comes from various sources—such as customer relationship management software, email campaigns, surveys, web/mobile interactions, and social media engagements—you can use tools like Twilio Segment and Twilio Engage to centralize and analyze that data.
Then, build automation to feed the helpful parts of that data to your contact center. In the end, you equip your support agents with the customer information they need to build a meaningful and personalized connection with each customer.
What are the benefits of an automated contact center?
So far, we’ve covered the general ways that contact center automation can help your business, along with concrete examples of automation. Let’s wrap up this post with a brief review of the business benefits of an automated contact center.
1. Faster response times
Automation will enhance your contact center to handle more inquiries in less time. This improves your company’s efficiency and your customer’s experience.
2. 24/7 availability
By offloading more of your contact center tasks to automated integrations, you ensure complete customer support around the clock. With your contact center moving closer to 24/7 availability, your customers can receive assistance whenever they need it.
3. Personalized interactions
When a contact center has automation that connects support agents with helpful customer data, agents (both machine and human) can deliver personalized and context-aware responses. This level of support yields an overall customer experience that sets businesses apart from competitors.
4. Reduced costs
By automating repetitive tasks, businesses can lower operational expenses and improve the bottom line. Those reduced costs might come in the form of a reduced need for training or hiring, better use of resources, and less additional infrastructure needed when scaling up.
5. Increased agent satisfaction
Humans typically dislike repetitive and meaningless tasks. These are the types of tasks to automate and delegate to machines so that humans can spend their time and mental energy on more engaging and challenging tasks. By leveraging contact center automation, you alleviate the workload of human agents and let them focus on more meaningful work. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and lower call avoidance and turnover rates.
Build your contact center automation with Twilio Flex
Twilio Flex is a contact center that helps your business connect with customers across all channels. Within a single platform, your business can deliver a personalized customer experience that boosts customer satisfaction and bolsters customer loyalty. Flex provides countless integrations to work alongside your current systems, along with the flexibility to build custom integrations.
Ready to give Flex a try? Request a demo today.