Articles/Power of AI = Happy staff + Happy Customers

Power of AI = Happy staff + Happy Customers

What came first? A customer-centric organisation? Or an employee-centric one? Call it the customer service chicken or egg conundrum. It’s a modern twist on an age-old question. But, no matter which came first, both are essential. The solution to making sure a business is both customer and employee focused is just as modern. It's the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

There’s no doubt that creating a customer service culture, where every interaction is positive, is essential to success. However, we all know that you can’t be genuinely customer-focused without satisfied and engaged employees. Your people are your greatest assets. As leadership guru Simon Sinek put it, customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.

The problem for contact centres is that employee satisfaction and engagement can be hard to come by. 

When employees are overstretched, it’s hard for them to do a good job. When they are disengaged, it’s even harder for them to care.

Agents under pressure – and bored

We know customer service agents have to juggle multiple tasks in a stressful and often challenging environment. They need to maintain service quality and satisfy customers by being attentive, perceptive and responsive. They need to solve problems, deal with demanding customers, and handle many calls in a short space of time – all while ensuring first call resolution and adding value through up- or cross-selling. When they lose control over their tasks, the result is exhaustion, absenteeism and high employee turnover. 

But they’re not just overstretched; they’re bored too. Answering the same queries repeatedly – frequently asked questions and requests for basic information - is not stimulating work. It’s tedious. And there are a lot of those questions. Health insurance company Humana found 60% of the one million monthly calls it received from doctors and administrators were simple requests for basic information, such as what procedures or treatments a patient’s policy covered.

Keep talent, don’t waste it

A CV-Library report found one in five customer service workers admitted to feeling bored every day, while three in ten felt that way weekly. The result is the same. Absenteeism. High staff turnover. Nearly six in ten customer service workers admitted they had looked for a new job because of dull work life [2].

So, the question is not if you need to focus on employee engagement in customer service – but how can you.

The answer? A blended approach of conversational AI, Automation and Human agents. 

Conversational AI’s ability to share call volume load, especially during surge times, will relieve the pressure on customer service agents. By freeing up agents with automation and conversational AI, more issues will be addressed sooner. Wait times will be cut. Customers will be happier. Workers will be under less pressure and happier..

Who answers what? Horses for courses

Zendesk expects AI-enabled conversational agents will handle 20% of all customer service requests by 2022. Importantly, it’s not just the number of calls or contacts that can be redistributed to AI that matters, it is the type. 

Run of the mill questions and issues can easily be handled through conversational AI. Assigning mundane queries to conversational AI, allows businesses to free up resources and time to up-skill their human agents.   Ensuring agents are equipped to handle more sophisticated, complex customer inquiries and take on more skilled, stimulating tasks.

From exhausted to engaged – and effective

Agents thrive when given added responsibility and stimulating engagements, especially when their work is pivotal to customer satisfaction. No longer bogged down by routine questions, they can genuinely impact customer experience and make a meaningful difference. 

It’s not a matter of one or the other. AI or human. Many high-level enquiries and issues simply can’t be solved through conversational AI - and sometimes, people just want to speak with a real person. The power comes from a blended approach, where AI augments agents.

Research shows when contact centre agents are engaged, they are more motivated, confident and feel their work makes a difference. With that mindset, they will deliver better customer experiences that boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

And AI? It doesn’t get bored. You can leave the boring – but equally important - bits to the bots.

To find out more about how adding AI to your contact centre mix can make your agents more engaged and effective, reach out to our team at VERSA.