As support becomes more customer focussed, the call centre is struggling to keep up. Automating and innovating call centres is the way to go for faster, stronger and better support.
The call centre is dead. At least as dead as it can be.
Call centres were a trend in the 80s and 90s. At the same time when cassette tapes were also a trend. In the new digital age, IVR and call centres are phasing out.
We don’t have to tell you this. You knew it already. Do you call the toll free numbers to resolve your queries? Do you pick up calls from unknown numbers (probably tagged spam)? No? Then why do we still have them?
What we need are faster and more efficient processes. Call centre automation is the need of the hour.
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Evolution of customer expectation
In the late 2000s when the smartphone wave began, we saw a change in the way we communicate.
Phone calls were reduced, texting increased and mobile/Internet became easily accessible. Advances in technology in the 2010s also led to more personalised messaging.
At the same time, customer preferences are also changing. Call centres are unable to keep up and have been providing far from satisfactory service. The data below proves it.
Gen Z and Millennials (also called digital natives) grew up in a digitally connected world, where being self-dependent was encouraged – the rise of DIY culture.
Because of this, customer support has gone beyond phone service. Today, companies provide customer service through help pages, SMS, push notifications, IVR, social media, chatbots, and WhatsApp Business (in the case of enterprises, WhatsApp Business API).
Now it’s time to get all these together on one platform and make customer service faster, stronger and better. After all, the goal is to improve the customer experience.
That’s where automation comes in.
What is customer support or call centre automation?
It is the process of letting technology handle repetitive and manual support tasks for higher efficiency. These technologies are AI-powered and can be robotic (RPA) or conversational ( chatbots and voice assistants). Customer support automation streamlines routine processes, saves time, reduces human involvement, assists human agents and reduces operational costs.
Suggested Reading: Customer Support Automation and Its Importance
Call centre automation: Call centre vs customer support automation
Call centre automation technology provides a superior customer experience. To understand the difference, we’ve compared the two on seven parameters. Let’s dive in.
1. Communication platform
The most significant difference between a call centre and automated customer service is the mode of communication.
A call centre offers support only through phones. Whereas through the automated call centre, you can talk to your customers on website chatbots, voicebots, live chat, SMS, WhatsApp, Social Media (Viber, Facebook Messenger and Instagram) or other platforms of customers’ choice.
And it’s not limited to just a channel of communication. You have options with medium too. With customer support automation, your conversations can range from text, images, videos, voice messages, attachments, maps, etc.
2. Omnichannel experience
A company is dependent on the call centre agent to record the customer conversation and document it later to sync across platforms. It’s not real-time and increases the chance of errors.
But if your company is automating call centres for customer support, conversations are automatically recorded, saved and synced with your CRM, ERP, and other customer data platforms (CDPs) in real-time.
With customer support automation, not only can your customers reach out to you on multiple platforms, but their previous chat is also synchronised across platforms. This results in a delightful customer experience.
Suggested reading: Amplifying Customer Support With An Omnichannel Chatbot
3. Operational costs
Call centres are expensive. Period.
On average, outsourcing call centre services to India would cost around $6-$10 per hour. And the rates only keep increasing as you move to other regions. For example, outsourcing call centres to South East Asia is $8-$14 per hour and the Middle East is $15-$20 per hour.
On the other hand, you can automate 80% of your customer support queries, requiring agents to solve only the remaining 20%. This improves the agent’s productivity, reduces agent training costs, and overhead costs, and increases customer satisfaction. All at a fraction of the costs involved in call centres.
Suggested reading: How ADIB reduced call centre call volume by 20% resulting in $2.7m in annual cost saving.
Because of its limited communication mode, a call centre cannot offer many opportunities to market your company. There is no visual element either. But when it comes to customer support automation, you can market your company in more than one way.
You can customise your messaging to meet brand guidelines, helping in a strong brand recall. With call centre automation through conversational AI, you can send personalised emails, WhatsApp messages, or SMS to market new products/features.
The advantages of such messaging are that you can personalise them, are non-intrusive and have a high open-rate.
Suggested Reading: Why Your Landing Page Needs A Chatbot Today
Call centres are reactive support systems. Customers call the service centres only when they have a problem with the product and want to complain. It’s one-way communication.
Whereas, call centre automation technologies allow for two-way communication. Customers can reach out to companies when they need help, and companies can reach out to customers to proactively provide support for sales and marketing purposes.
Why wait for the customer to reach out when you can help them onboard, share relevant material, share rewards, build loyalty, and re-engage. Proactive communication builds good customer relationships.
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As we discussed earlier, the new generation is self-reliant and wants to solve their own problems. A call centre doesn’t fit this need. The customer is dependent on agents to help them resolve their issues. And the agents aren’t available 24×7.
With the help of a chatbot or an automated process, the customer is free to use the product at their convenience and resolve issues as soon as the problem arises.
In fact, the AI behind this tech keeps improving based on customer interaction. A smarter automation process gives more power to customers and results in a better experience.
Suggested Reading: AbhiBus Case Study: A Smart Way to Support: Self Serve
7. Unified customer profile
While call centre staff is supported with customer information, they have to toggle between multiple platforms to find relevant data on customers. The agents waste too much time and take longer to close a ticket. IBM says 75% of regular support call is spent searching for client account information.
However, in a customer support automation tool (one like Verloop.io), the agent gets to see a unified view of the customer, with all relevant information in one place on the same screen as the chat. Average ticket handling time has come down drastically due to this.
Information like customer chat/purchase history, customer’s location, the communication platform, etc. are also shown in one place. With customer profiling, the agent can provide a customised message for the customer.
The future of call centre customer communication
In a nutshell, customer support automation is the present and future of customer interaction for support purposes.
According to our customer support benchmark report, AI and automation have a direct and positive impact on support metrics such as CSAT, AHT, and FRT.
Forward-thinking companies are focussing on improving customer experience. And that starts with automation.
Verloop.io is a leading customer support automation provider. We help big and small companies automate the way they do customer support. Our contact centre AI has helped companies reduce the load on agents, improve customer experience, improve process efficiency and reduce operational costs among other things.
To learn how and where you can use it in your business, chat with our experts today.