Is Artificial Intelligence the Remedy for Contact Center Attrition?

Is Artificial Intelligence the Remedy for Call Center Attrition
by Hillary Gamblin     Friday, August 10th, 2018.

Digital assistants and chatbots are changing the way that contact centers and customer support operate. In fact, you could even go so far as to say that AI can solve the chronic attrition rate plaguing omnichannel customer support departments in the United States.  

Contact Center Attrition

In the U.S., call center turnover rates vary between 30 to 45 percent, well above the national average of 15.1 percent. Five common reasons employees flee from contact centers are lackluster training, management, limited opportunities for advancement, employee burnout, and substandard technology and tools.

While there is no true “cure all” for any attrition problem, investing in AI chatbots and digital assistants could convince employees to stay. That’s because AI technology does more than put a bandaid on a contact center problem. Chatbots and digital assistants transform—for the better—the work environment and job description of customer support employees.

Here are four ways implementing chatbot and digital assistant technology for your customer support team can improve attrition rates.

#1. Relieves Queue Stress

A massive strain on omnichannel contact centers is the unending queue of inquiries. The phone keeps ringing. Your inbox is bursting. Your Twitter is humming. This stressful environment takes a toll on your employees.

Luckily, chatbots and digital assistants alleviate this stress for employees by handling easy and simple incoming requests. As Dave Campbell points out, simple and easy requests constitute a significant percentage of customer inquiries:

Most customer requests revolve around simple, frequently asked questions like password changes, inventory or return questions, and order status queries, which don’t necessarily need a human touch to answer. These technologies emerging as the first line of defense to help customers get answers instantly rather than forcing them to wait on hold for what will likely be a quick fix.”

Dave Campbell, Retail Touch Points

If an AI chatbots can take even 25% of the incoming inquiries, that will significantly lower the stress level of your employees.

#2. Improves Employee Engagement

Save employees from work-related ennui! Let’s face it, it’s difficult for any human to answer the same questions day after day, month after month, and year after year. It results in either boredom or frustration. (Neither are conducive for fixing your workplace attrition problems.)

Boredom from monotony is antithetical to employee engagement. That’s why it’s helpful when, as as David Roe explains, “AI-powered technologies like chatbots are helping customer service agents by removing low-value repeatable tasks from their day jobs, allowing them to focus on more meaningful and creative work.”

While employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction, it’s a step in the right direction. So free up your contact center employees for more engaging work by eliminating tedious and repetitive inquiries.

#3. Provides Employee Support

Ironically, customer support teams are some of the most under-supported departments. Yet in talking to thought leadership, AI chatbot technology is developing solutions that can better support employees.

Some AI chatbot technology uniquely positions itself in a triangular model of agent, bot, and customer. This simply means that the bot supports the customer and the employee.

Let’s say a customer’s inquiry is transferred from the bot to an agent. With some developing technology, when the customer is transferred, the bot never steps away. The bot continues to engage throughout the conversation by prompting your employee with recommendations.

Or let’s say a customer asks three questions, two of which are easy, and the third is more difficult. In this situation, some bot technology can even insert itself to answer those quick and easy questions directly. This frees the employee to remain focused on the complicated request. It’s really a partnership. And the agent can even give real-time feedback on what the bot is providing to help it become smarter.

While this technology has not integrated into a full AI-powered contact center solution, this form of employee support is an important step for contact centers in the future. When employees feel supported, they feel valued. And the more valued a employee feels, the stronger their loyalty.

#4. More Employee Training

In the past, poor training for contact centers resulted in high employee turnover. Today, with AI tools in the mix, poor training will cost you customers as well.

Currently the majority of inquires your employees handle are simple and repetitive. So when faced with a uniquely difficult request, they’ll often transfer the customer to another employee better equipped to provide an answer. If this happens infrequently, it’s not a serious problem.

If it happens frequently, it’s a problem. In a 2016 NewVoiceMedia survey, 33 percent of customers left a company because they were passed around to multiple agents, and 27 percent left because they couldn’t get an answer.

As more and more customer support teams adopt AI tools, their job description changes. The new generation of customer support will need to answer the hard and complex questions everyday. The only solution to fulfilling this new job description successfully is better training.

In a white paper by Jive Communications, we highlight how educating our customer support to be problem-solvers helps us maintain our 68 NPS (Net Promoter Score), a measure of customer satisfaction). Jive empowers their employees by not giving out agent scripts. Instead, they invest time and money to train and educate employees about company products

3 Keys to Growing Your Company through Customer Support Whitepaper Banner

In the long term, the adoption of AI chatbots and digital assistants will force companies to invest in a more specialized generation of customer support employees. If you don’t, you’ll lose customers.

Win Over Customers AND Employees with AI

AI customer support tools could help you solve company attrition rates in some extraordinary ways. By simply adopting chatbot and digital assistants, your company will lower employee stress, improve employee engagement, provide more employee support, and drive better employee training.

Ironically, it takes AI technology to help us relate to one another in a more human way. Adopting AI chatbots and digital assistants for your contact centers will help your employees be more customer-centric, and it will help your company become more employee-centric. To ensure your company isn’t left behind in this human-centric workplace, check out these Top 10 AI Chatbots Revolutionising Customer Service products.

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