Contact centers around the world are reimagining “customer service” by digital technologies that infuse empathy and emotions into the customer-service journey. While most contact-center solutions focus on automation and smart self-service through digital bots and AI-powered channels, the COVID-19 environment has made speaking to an agent one of the most important forms of contact. This can pose a challenge to contact-center modernization.
Contact centers must now be equipped to not only handle the sudden spike in call-center volumes, but also to enable real-time voice analytics that capture customers’ emotions during the interaction. This capability must be made available for agents on their desktop and in real time, recommending the next best action for agents to take based on the captured emotions. The result is an empathy-driven customer service model that will be increasingly important as society establishes a “new normal.”
The representative scenario below shows a customer calling the contact center to inquire about a loan to meet his or her financial needs. The customer’s emotions are captured at each stage of the processing journey and are displayed on the agent’s desktop in real time. The agent is advised at each stage by an automated chat interface that suggests the next best action to deliver a positive customer experience. The captured emotions can also be leveraged for future skill-training programs.
In addition to voice-analytics and emotion-capture functionality, an end-to-end contact center modernization should provide several other empathy-driven capabilities. Chief among these is a selection of new channels for smart self-service, giving customers a choice of interaction methods as they maintain mandated social-distancing policies. These channels may include:
- Messaging Apps: Alongside phone and email, contact center modernizations should integrate with messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. WhatsApp (with a user base of more than 2 billion) is among the most widely adopted messaging apps across generations.
- Chatbots for Automating Agent Dialogues: Chatbots and decision engines can help guide customers to the right outcome. Attended Robotic Process Automation(RPA) bots can target the front office, where agents can invoke them during the flow of their work, while unattended RPA bots can handle high-volume, low-complexity tasks.
- Augmented AI for Agents: AI can streamline inquiry capture and resolution, and it may also be used to optimize case routing, perform classification and manage schedules.
- Video: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were reluctant to use video channels for customer service. In the current situation, video chat can enable agents to provide health advice and preventive care information at a time when visual contact may be more appreciated. Intelligent process automation can help direct customer-service requests to agents who are trained on video-based servicing.
Leading intelligent-process-automation products like Pega can seamlessly integrate with an extended AI ecosystem (home grown/commercial products as well as cloud-native services) to promise quick time to market and contact center scalability. In the case of Pega, it also comes with a customer service application that has native AI capabilities to enable the end-to-end contact center modernization.
As more organizations explore how to address their contact center modernization in a COVID-19 world, empathy-driven customer service promises to be a differentiated capability and a powerful strategy to improve the customer experience.