How to Integrate AI into Your Call Center
The integration of advanced AI technology into call centers is a relatively recent development
However, companies have been using interactive voice response (IVR) systems and even natural language processing (NLP) since the mid-2000s.
But the capabilities of those technologies are what has exploded.
Today, AI-powered chatbots, voice assistants, and sentiment analysis tools are commonly used in call centers to improve customer experience, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
Why AI is all the rage right now
Since ChatGPT stunned the world, the use and research behind AI-driven technology have grown exponentially overnight.
But a common question we continue to receive is “How do you integrate AI into your call center?”
Whether it be getting the budget approved for new tools or getting your team on board, there seems to be a variety of reasons why companies are hesitant.
A study by MIT Sloan Management Review found that call centers that used AI saw a 13.5% improvement in agent productivity.
If you haven’t jumped on board the AI-train, we suggest taking a closer look.
Integrating AI into your call center
We’ve put together some of the lessons learned from our customers, prospects, and partners to help you navigate the process of how to integrate AI into your call center.
- Identify your goals
This is the most commonly skipped step by most companies, but could arguably be one of the most important.
You’d be surprised how many companies spend all the time and resources to get a project approved for a new technology, then it is never used three months later.
When you’re identifying your goals, it helps outline where your team(s) needs the most help. Is it operations, is it training or onboarding, or even agent retention?
It also ensures that with any AI technology that you’re looking to add, you can later identify an ROI and see if it’s helped you reach your goals.
- Choose the right AI technology
We may be biased, but this is the easy step.
Sure, it does take some time to demo and talk to sales teams to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting.
But you already know what you’re trying to solve as you highlight your goals and your shortcomings in the step above.
Different types of AI:
- Chatbots or virtual agents
- Adding a virtual assistant to calls and chats allows customers to receive a quick answer without having to talk to anyone. This can also be used to help collect all the basic information before being transferred to a live agent.
- Great to have when you need to ramp up quickly or if your current agents are overwhelmed with calls that can be easily handled by a chatbot.
- They could also be used if you’re looking to expand to chat and messenger options for your customers.
- Agent assist AI or call guidance
- When your agents can receive real-time answers, feedback, and overcome objections without having a manager to be on the call or put the customer on hold… this is a WIN WIN.
- Agent assist software allows agents to pull from your database in real-time to keep call handle times down and increase first call resolution percentages.
- If your team is overwhelmed with onboarding or agent attrition, this type of AI is a must.
- QA automation
- When it comes to Medicare, insurance, or even collections, companies can be required to have a certain amount of calls recorded. So why not remove the manual QA process as well?
- QA automation allows managers to be alerted when a call falls out of compliance, no more guessing about which calls to listen to. Plus you’ll get an accurate report on agent performance when it comes to compliance.
- Integration with your existing system
One missing piece that companies tend to forget until the negotiation steps are ensuring the new tech can coexist with your current tech.
Buying the latest and greatest AI tech is awesome until you realize your agents don’t use it because it’s not easily integrated into their day-to-day process.
- Training & onboarding agents
While AI-driven software is incredible and the advancements in the next couple of years are going to blow your mind, we are not in a place to fully replace agents.
AI should be used to give your agents the boost they need to hit their metrics or essentially do more with less.
Training agents on new software is not a one and done situation. You’ll get some who comply, others who use it sometimes, and some who always seem to “forget”. When adding AI to your tech stack, there should be weekly training sessions.
Plus you’ll learn from your agents if they have other ideas on how it can be used!
Agent training = agent buy-in.
- Test & refine processes
Just as we mentioned above, implementing AI into your call center isn’t a one and done.
You need to test and refine how it’s being used.
For example at Abstrakt, we work with our customers the first couple of weeks to see what the AI is hearing vs. what agents are saying. There is a learning curve for every tool, it’s important to pick one with a team who is willing to do some of the heavy lifting for you.
- Measure the results
Another key piece that is often missed. How many times has your company implemented a new process or software to only go back to the old ways of not using it within a month or two?
Plus most contracts are on an annual basis, which means money is leaving your pocket with nothing in return.
Measuring the results and ROI of any new AI purchase is a must. Is it truly saving you money or time? How is it affecting your top line revenue?
Here is one example of how we measure ROI for our customers.
- Have a backup plan
What happens when the software you purchased doesn’t work? Or maybe you were over-promised in the sales process.
Always have a contingency plan.
This means understanding what your options are in the contract phase before you sign.
Take the leap and integrate AI into your call center
AI is here to stay; we believe every company can benefit from this type of software.
Follow the steps we’ve put together, add in others if you need, and advance your call center operations.
Not sure of where to start? That’s exactly what Tech Stack Advising is for. Utilize their expertise in the market to give you a head start when it comes to evaluating your call center tech stack.
Looking into call guidance or agent assist software? Check out Abstrakt. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
Guest Blog: Greg Reffner, CEP & Founder at Abstrakt.