Contact Center Automation: What Is It, and How Does It Work?

The Complete Guide to Contact Center Automation

Contact Center Automation What is It and How Does it Work - CX Today News
Contact CentreInsights

Published: June 22, 2023

Rebekah Carter

Contact center automation isn’t just a trend in the CX landscape; it’s quickly emerging as a vital part of the technology stack. As customer journeys become more complex and expectations evolve, automation offers businesses an effective tool to improve and accelerate interactions.

According to Gartner, 72% of customers expect excellent service from the companies they interact with, but only 49% feel their experiences are up to scratch. Contact center automation can help businesses live up to expectations.

It helps organizations lower costs, optimize resources, and satisfy more customers. Moreover, with advances in machine learning, robotic process automation, and other digital technologies, contact center automation solutions are becoming ever more sophisticated.

Here’s everything business leaders need to know about the power of contact center automation.

What Is Contact Center Automation? An Introduction

Contact center automation uses innovative technology to automate tasks commonly performed by human agents. It builds on the broader digital process automation market, set to reach a value of $42.7 billion by 2031.

While automation has become more commonplace in virtually every part of the business landscape, it’s highly beneficial in the contact center. Customer service teams and experts are using automation not just as a tool to improve efficiency but also to enhance customer experience.

Contact center automation tools can even empower companies to offer customers a different level of service. For instance, chatbots can interact with customers and complete tasks on behalf of humans.

However, self-service tools aren’t the only solution companies can leverage with contact center automation. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is changing how customers interact with IVR systems. Workflow automation tools are improving employee productivity and efficiency.

Automated systems are even influencing how companies manage contacts. Today’s CCaaS platforms and contact center tools can help organizations rapidly route customers to the right agent based on their intent, needs, and agent skill sets.

The Types of Contact Center Automation

Contact center automation can improve and simplify many parts of your contact center. It offers organizations an effective way to address everything from call scheduling to workforce management. Here are some top examples of contact center automation tools and solutions.

Call Scheduling Automation

With automated scheduling tools, companies can schedule calls based on specific, pre-defined criteria and improve the customer experience. For instance, based on CRM data and other information, contact centers could choose to schedule a call with a customer when they need to renew their contract or when they might need an upgrade.

Companies running sales-focused contact centers can even use automation to schedule calls, then leverage automatic dialers to reach out to customers instantly. Some auto-dialers, such as progressive and predictive dialers, can even anticipate the likelihood of an actual human answering the phone, reducing the risk of unanswered calls.

Customer Interaction Automation

Perhaps the most common example of contact center automation, customer interaction automation, gives companies ways to connect with their audience and deliver self-service. Chatbots and virtual assistants can automatically respond to customer queries with guidance and support.

Intelligent Voice Assistants and enhanced IVR solutions can automate defining a customer’s problem and routing them to the correct agent. Some innovative AI-powered solutions can even automate completing specific customer tasks, like checking a bank balance or renewing a subscription.

More basic contact center automation tools can also help manage call queuing, ensuring customers are placed in the correct queue to access the needed help.

Sales and Marketing Automation

Contact centers aren’t just responsible for serving customers with issues or problems. Contact center reps can also encourage sales, market products to customers, and more. Sales and marketing automation solutions can speed up the sales cycle and increase conversion rates.

Automation tools integrated with a CRM system can also personalize sales and marketing content to each customer’s specific needs. They can help companies segment their audience into different groups and deliver messages at the right time in the marketing journey.

Forecasting Automation

A common feature of many workforce optimization and management tools, forecasting automation, assists companies with scheduling and running their teams. The right forecasting tools can anticipate the inbound contact volume of a company across multiple channels. It can then suggest shift schedules for agents based on these predictions.

Many CCaaS platforms now include omnichannel forecasting tools that monitor KPIs, multichannel activity, and call center insights to deliver helpful guidance. Machine learning tools can even factor in agent availability to optimize staffing.

Workflow Operations Automation

Designed to reduce some of the repetitive tasks in the schedules of crucial contact center employees, workflow automation tools are growing increasingly popular. Automated solutions can use artificial intelligence to handle all kinds of routine tasks.

They can assign agents to queues and channels based on specific needs, track agent adherence to compliance rules, and even collect and store data for teams. Many CCaaS platforms now feature automation solutions for SLA compliance, alerts and notifications, and proactive outreach.

Messaging Automation

As mentioned above, automation tools are excellent for sending marketing and sales messages to customers at the best possible time in their buyer journey. However, contact center automation tools can also enhance other types of messaging, such as cross-company notifications.

With the right technology, often built into collaboration apps and CCaaS platforms, companies can keep their team members updated with relevant alerts, reports, and insights.

The Benefits of Contact Center Automation

Automation allows companies to reduce costs, improve productivity, and save time in the contact center. Whether a contact center is responsible for serving customers, providing tech support, or setting appointments, automation can help.

Contact center automation is becoming an increasingly popular choice for business leaders, with around 95% of contact centers implementing the technology as of 2022.

Some of the most significant benefits of contact center automation include:

1.      Improved Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is more important than ever in today’s competitive landscape. Around 77% of customers say inefficient contact center experiences detract from their quality of life. Call center automation can help to address this problem.

With the right automation tools, companies can rapidly detect a customer’s identity, figure out the needs of each customer, and ensure they’re sent to the right agent. Automation tools can also help companies solve problems faster by providing agents access to the correct information and providing consumers with self-service options.

2.      Improved Employee Experiences

Contact center automation doesn’t just improve customer experiences but can also enhance employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Rather than simply “replacing” agents, automation tools can supplement, augment, and support team members.

With automated workflow tools, employees don’t have to perform the same repetitive tasks daily. They can instead focus on complex tasks and more enjoyable, fulfilling projects. The happier your employees are, the more likely they will stay with your business and deliver excellent customer experiences.

3.      Higher First Call Resolution Rates

Contact center automation tools can also directly impact some of the most critical metrics monitored in the customer service landscape. With automation, it’s easier to immediately send customers to the right agent, which means they’re less likely to deal with transfers.

Contact center automation can also improve first-call resolution rates by assisting agents with addressing complex concerns and customer needs.

4.      Reduce Errors

Human error is a common problem in the contact center. Although call centers rely on human agents to deliver empathetic experiences to customers, it’s easy to make mistakes in a fast-paced landscape. Contact center automation can help with this issue.

Automation tools can do everything from sending notifications to employees to uploading information to a CRM system after a call. This reduces the risk of errors that harm business performance and customer experience.

5.      Lower Operational Costs

Keeping costs low has always been an essential priority for contact center leaders. However, it has become more of a significant issue in recent years, thanks to an unpredictable economy. Reducing costs while keeping service levels high can be complicated.

However, with automated solutions, there are effective ways to reduce expenses. Automation can reduce the manual tasks of employees, minimize the need for extra staff members, and more. Additionally, fewer errors mean fewer moments spent fixing mistakes.

6.      Expand Service Options

Contact center automation also gives businesses a fantastic way to improve customer service options. With automated tools like chatbots and virtual assistants, companies can deliver intuitive self-service opportunities to clients.

Plus, automated systems can operate 24/7. This ensures companies can interact with and support their target audience whenever needed.

Contact Center Automation Challenges

While contact center automation can offer a host of benefits to business owners and teams, there are some challenges organizations may need to overcome. Perhaps the most significant issue companies need to address is the balance between automation and human interaction.

Not every customer will want to interact with a bot when solving problems or searching for information. Some discussions, particularly those related to complex or sensitive matters, require a human touch. Business leaders need to ensure there’s still a human element in the contact center capable of delivering empathy and creativity to customers.

It’s also worth noting that AI-based automation tools and customer service platforms can’t handle every complex interaction. Though today’s solutions are becoming more advanced with concepts like generative AI, machines will still struggle with some interactions.

Implementing the right level of contact center automation requires companies to think carefully about how they configure and use their systems.

How to Implement Contact Center Automation

The good news for contact center leaders is implementing automation solutions today is much easier than it once was. Harnessing workflow automation and AI services may have been a complex process, requiring input from developers and industry experts.

However, most CCaaS platforms today allow companies to design and implement automation with minimal coding. Some tools offer drag-and-drop dashboards where teams can visualize automation paths and set automation policies.

To implement these solutions correctly, companies will need to:

  • Identify opportunities for automation: Consult with agents, monitor call center activity, and collect data to determine which workflows can benefit from automation. Focus on implementing automation strategies only in areas where they support business goals.
  • Set conditions: Implement automation workflows carefully. Most CCaaS solutions will allow companies to set triggers for starting an automated sequence. Using these triggers carefully will be critical to ensuring the solution’s success.
  • Maintain human elements: Not every aspect of the contact center necessarily needs to be automated. It’s essential to establish areas where human interactions may still be necessary. Ensuring customers can still access human support when critical is crucial.
  • Track results: Monitor the results of automated workflows and strategies to determine how they’re influencing contact center KPIs. Automation strategies will likely evolve based on the feedback you get from customers and agents.

Unlocking the Power of Contact Center Automation

Contact center automation can be an ideal way to improve customer service, enhance efficiency, and improve employee morale. Used correctly, the right automation strategies can help organizations to reduce costs and stand out from the competition.

The key to success is getting the balance right. Evaluate automation options carefully, and be mindful of the continued need for human support in the modern market. Don’t make the mistake of automating too much too fast, and constantly track the results of your efforts.

AutomationCCaaSDigital Transformation

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