Enhancing Customer Experience in Call Centers Using Voice Bots: Addressing 5 Typical Challenges
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The mention of a call center often evokes negative reactions, as many individuals have experienced frustrating situations such as being transferred between agents or enduring long wait times. If you’re reading this, chances are your company operates a call center, and you’re well aware of its less-than-ideal reputation. Despite being intended as sources of support and information, call centers are often perceived as inefficient.
The challenges appear to be worsening, with average handling times increasing from 18 seconds to 20 minutes, underfunding being a prevalent issue, and customer trust remaining low. A significant 81% of customers prefer exhausting all self-help options before resorting to a call center for assistance.
Improving call center functionality seems like a challenging task, but there is a potential solution that could largely alleviate these issues—voice bots. These automated systems can offer clients simplicity, reliability, and quality customer service without the need for extensive consultant hiring or constant monitoring of phone lines and request processing. In this article, we will delve into how voice bots can effectively address the growing challenges associated with operating an efficient call center.
What are Voice Bots?
Voice bots were introduced and briefly explored in our Bot Building Series, providing a general understanding of their capabilities. Now, let’s move beyond the basic introduction and delve into their specific applications within a call center setting.
To put it simply, voice bots are chatbots activated by voice commands. Unlike their text-based counterparts, they can both receive and interpret voice commands and respond through voice communication.
Distinguishing Between Voice Bots and IVR
The technology powering voice bots has evolved significantly, with current trends indicating increased popularity and adoption. However, if you’re not well-versed in the distinct features that set them apart, you might easily confuse voice bots with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. Let’s briefly explore this distinction.
IVR systems have been a fixture in businesses of various sizes for many decades. Sectors such as banking, healthcare, hospitality, and tourism have embraced this technology as an alternative to human consultants guiding callers through the entire process. While IVRs have generally served as a satisfactory solution, they are not without their drawbacks. Callers must endure a welcoming message, navigate through a list of options, listen for the correct department number to press, and then wait for a consultant to answer—a cumbersome process in itself.
Issues arise when considering human error. IVR systems lack flexibility in accommodating mistakes, forcing callers to listen through the entire list of options again in the hope of correcting an error. Furthermore, human agents excel at understanding nuance and context, elements absent in the rigid structure of an IVR system, where every department or issue is assigned a specific number with no allowance for edge cases or uncommon scenarios.
In contrast, AI voice bots are poised to revolutionize customer service by bypassing such obstacles. Equipped with advanced natural language processing (NLP) and understanding (NLU) capabilities, they eliminate the need for manual input to categorize conversations. Unlike IVR systems, voice bots act as sources of knowledge themselves, representing a clear advancement in customer service capabilities.
Main Issues in Call Centers and How to Fix Them
We have clearly established the potential for improvements in customer service. If you operate a call center, experience challenges in its efficiency, and are considering the implementation of an AI voice bot to address these issues, you’ve come to the right place! Below, we guide you through five of the most prominent challenges in call centers that voice bots can effectively tackle.
When the sheer volume of client calls overwhelms your customer service team, despite partial IVR automation, it often leads to backed-up phone lines and excessively prolonged handling times. Introducing a voice bot can alleviate these challenges. With proper programming, voice bots can address common queries, resolve customer issues without human intervention, and remain available around the clock rather than being limited to specific shifts. Increased call processing translates to less wasted time and, consequently, happier customers.
Furthermore, reputable sources like McKinsey project a 30% decline in human interactions in customer support over the coming years. This positions chatbots and voice bots perfectly to efficiently handle these interactions, making the service quicker and more accessible for callers.
During certain peak hours, such as lunchtime or between 4 and 5 p.m., call centers experience a surge in call volumes, putting a strain on the entire system. Human agents can handle only one call at a time, and voice bots play a crucial role in significantly reducing the burden on your staff.
Let’s be straightforward: spending the entire day answering phones isn’t the most glamorous or fulfilling job. Employee turnover rates in call centers consistently hover around a relatively high 30–45%. Easing the burden of repetitive and mundane tasks could help retain your staff and contribute to their job satisfaction. Recognizing the untapped potential of human workers and their capacity for creative tasks is crucial. Voice bots, being mere automated systems, are limited in their ability to handle creative work. Integrating them into your customer service team can facilitate a more rational management of human resources. This not only allows for the redistribution of agents to more complex tasks but also offers the added benefits of engaging responsibilities, reduced stress, and a lower risk of professional burnout.
Voice bots are instrumental in addressing the most significant drawback of IVR systems. While IVRs streamline call center workflows, each customer ultimately requires service from a human agent. Pressing buttons to navigate to the appropriate department or team does not resolve issues such as unpaid bills or missing orders.
To effectively tackle call center challenges, an innovative solution must operate as an end-to-end service, minimizing the need for constant human intervention. Voice bots fit this description perfectly, as their programming, when executed correctly, can offer efficient call automation across various industries.
Consider a shipping company as an example. For a voice bot to maximize ROI in such a scenario, its Natural Language Understanding (NLU) must handle common customer queries (e.g., missing/delayed/wrong orders, order status checks, payments, cancellations, scheduling deliveries or pickups at specific times, etc.) and seamlessly transfer to a human agent if the issue proves too complex for the voice bot alone. While it might seem that the voice bot is no better than the IVR in handling the request, the key difference lies in the prior screening of the conversation by the voice bot. It provides the human agent with all pertinent information as it transfers the call, saving time and potential frustration for both parties.
Additionally, unlike IVRs, AI voice bots can deliver a personalized service by remembering previous interactions, customer names, and other relevant details. In summary, the advantages overwhelmingly favor voice bots, as companies leveraging automation realize 20% greater profits compared to those that don’t, resulting in only a 5% extra return on investment.
Imagine being stuck on hold, frustrated about an issue, and aggravated further by having to endure unpleasant on-hold music. When you finally connect with a representative, they inform you that they can’t assist you but will transfer you to another department. While reluctantly agreeing, you find yourself facing another round of waiting and the need to reiterate your problem to a different person. On the scale of unsatisfactory customer experiences, this is already quite frustrating, and the situation could escalate further, as you likely know. For instance, think about the frustration of verifying your identity by recalling a password set up with the service seven years ago. This scenario points to one thing: outdated and exasperating procedures.
Enter voice bots. They have the potential to eliminate nearly all these issues, efficiently handling customer requests, seamlessly transferring calls to agents when necessary, and doing so in a fraction of the time it takes via an IVR. Even authentication processes can become much simpler through secure voice-enabled client verification. It’s crucial, however, to take appropriate measures to mitigate any security risks associated with conversational AI.
Enhance Customer Service in Your Call Center with Born Digital
In summary, you can significantly enhance your customers’ interactions with your call center by utilizing voice bots to handle routine inquiries and tasks. Schedule a demo with Born Digital today to witness the genuine capabilities of voice bots and discover how to achieve outstanding customer service while simultaneously cutting operating costs through the effectiveness of conversational AI.