Unsung Heroes: Attended Automation Enables Service Agents

80% of UK contact centres reported increased interactions since pandemic

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Contact CentreNICEInsights

Published: June 22, 2021


Christine Horton

With a surge in call volumes and complex, emotionally driven, customer requests during Covid-19, attended automation can help provide the right behavioural and operational guidance, at just the right time, to under-pressure agents. 

Almost 80 percent of contact centres in the UK have reported increased interactions as customers reach out for support since the start of the pandemic.  

Additionally, according to research by NICE, 53 percent of contact centres expect they will continue to have agents work from home post-Covid19. This indicates a strong need for intelligent AI and automation tools to assist agents to better navigate a new operational reality, to not only deliver excellent service but to offer the right support to emotionally vulnerable customers.  

The company contends that contact centre agents are unsung heroes during the current crisis. Not only have they been dealing with a significant spike in call volumes, but there has been a marked increase in calls from vulnerable customers. As part of this, lockdown saw a rise in emergency calls about domestic violence, as well as to the suicide and mental health helplines and to calls to children’s support charities. 

These types of calls can, of course, take their toll on agents. As such, it has never been more important to provide them with support when dealing with calls – particularly if they are working from home, in isolation. 

Supporting Agents with Intelligent Attended Bots  

Gareth Hole
Gareth Hole

Gareth Hole, Director of Robotics and AI at NICE,  says technologies such as AI and attended automation are playing a pivotal role in enabling agents to be more efficient, personal and even empathetic when dealing with greater call volumes and more complex, and sometimes unpredictable customer requests  

“Agents are faced with multiple challenges on a daily basis, and this is largely due to poor desktop tools. Attended automation technology is more sophisticated than traditional Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and supports many more use cases. This is because it is designed to work with humans, in real-time. By alleviating the everyday operational pressures, attended automation improves the work experience for agents, and happier, well-supported agents are more likely to have a positive impact on the customer experience.  

Hole says NICE’s attended bot, NEVA (NICE Employee Virtual Attendant), is designed to provide agents with real-time, context-specific guidance during calls. NEVA is automatically triggered by the employee’s desktop actions, via keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. ‘She’ provides next-best-action guidance, via interactive screens or callouts. 

“NEVA knows when to pop up to the right moment within the customer interaction to provide the agent with the right assistance, at the optimal moment within a live customer interaction,” said Hole 

Importantly, NEVA can support employees working from home that may feel disengaged or don’t have the ability to seek immediate advice, as they would in the office. 

NEVA can work with Enlighten AI, NICE’s purpose-built set of AI technologies, among which includes the ability to identify vulnerable customers and advise how to respond. NEVA guides the agent with helpful prompts such as reminders to display empathy while offering a practical solution, in real-time, to support the situation. 

“Enlighten AI analyses customer sentiment and agent behaviours have proven to impact customer satisfaction,” said Hole. “Using Enlighten AI insights, NEVA can provide additional guidance to agents on how to build rapport or show empathy, for example, empowering agents to deliver excellent customer service in the moment.” 

NEVA’s desktop analytics capabilities also provide managers with real-time insights into agent productivity and where they may be struggling. This opens opportunities for managers to either step in and assist during a live interaction, or provide more personalized coaching that addresses each agent’s individual strengths and weaknesses. This helps to keep agents engaged and productive in any office setting while keeping them focused on organizational goals – such as improved customer satisfaction. 

“We recognise the role of the agents who have gone above and beyond in our CX Idol awards programme and identified an important connection between the employee experience and customer experience,” said Hole. “For organisations to truly succeed at delivering exceptional customer experiences, that really connect to the core customer issues, they need to put their focus on improving the employee experience with the support of intelligent AI and automation tools.”  



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