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Three call and
contact center
automation trends
on the horizon

Author: Nick Reese

The pandemic created seemingly endless inconveniences—goods shortages, supply chain disruptions, long hold times and closed businesses were commonplace for months on end. Eventually, disruptions spurred organizations worldwide into implementing automated solutions to ensure exceptional customer service and stay in business. But these improvements set a new standard, and as the world returns to normal, people will expect the same level of convenience and service.

Contact center automation represents the greatest opportunity to deliver benefits to organizations and their customers. Consider the role your contact center plays to understand how three contact center automation trends—natural language processing, big data analytics and omnichannel solutions—can work together to deliver a human touch.

Why the contact center is still the center of your business

We live in a digital world where customers, employees and businesses are only milliseconds apart, no matter where they are. Almost every business now has roughly the same access to manufacturing centers, innovative employees and customer bases, regardless of its location. Though this gives every business the opportunity to operate at its highest level, it also means there has never been less separating competitors in a particular niche, sector or industry.

Brands are changing where they compete. They are moving away from factors where there is little opportunity to stand out, such as price, product quality, features and geography. Instead, they are competing on the factor that customers still value most: the customer experience. By focusing on meeting their customers' needs—especially when customers are most in need of help—brands can build customer loyalty, garner positive reviews and build a winning culture.

The contact center is the heart of the customer experience. No one contacts customer support because they are happy. Customers ring the contact center because they are confused, frustrated or angry. No matter how good your product, marketing or sales teams are, your customer experience team will determine whether or not the customer stays your customer. If it cannot, the customer will go elsewhere.

Staying ahead of contact center automation trends can help you scale your ability to serve customers effectively. Instead of forcing unhappy customers to hold for the next available representative, automation helps you serve more customers at scale. Chatbots can answer questions using natural language. And big data analytics and omnichannel solutions will let you personalize service while delivering a consistent customer experience across every channel.

Emerging contact center automation trends

According to Drift’s 2020 State of Conversational Marketing Report, one in three people believe that customer service feels too impersonal. Therefore, you must take care that you do not frustrate customers when introducing or expanding contact center automation solutions. Chatbots and interactive voice response have taken the customer experience world by storm, but sterile, mechanical experiences frustrate customers and make them want to talk to a human—exactly what you're trying to mitigate. Emerging contact center automation trends help address that dynamic. Those trends are:

Virtual assistants 

Natural language processing makes the chatbot and interactive voice response experiences more conversational by leveraging artificial intelligence. Natural language processing techniques use machine learning to analyze and understand customers' natural text or verbal requests and determine appropriate responses.

Customers do not have to phrase requests in a certain way, nor are they restricted to narrow choices. They can write or speak like they normally would to a customer support rep, and natural language processing systems can interpret their intent. Natural language processing analyzes massive amounts of text from previous interactions and uses contextual clues, such as specific customer histories, to provide a human-like experience during self-service transactions.

Robotic process automation 

One key to contact center efficiency is reducing time spent on tedious or repetitive tasks. Robotic process automation (RPA) addresses that very problem by using bots to work simultaneously with contact center agents to complete routine work.

Some RPA bots may be deployed by contact center employees to integrate with their workflow, while others might run continuously behind the scenes to process ongoing tasks.

Big data and machine learning 

Big data can give you the insight and context you need to make your automated experience feel more natural by unifying disparate data sources into a single-customer view. It can also help you use lessons learned across millions of interactions to train your systems to provide responsive, proactive support.

Big data is also essential for machine learning, which can be used to analyze large quantities of data and recognize patterns that can support better decision-making in the contact center.

Omnichannel approach

An omnichannel approach lets you use your natural language processing-powered automated communication tools and analytics-fueled customer insights to deliver a unified customer experience however a customer interacts with your brand. Whether it is through your chatbot, website, mobile app, social media or interactive voice response system or by interacting with your staff the old-fashioned way—on the phone or in person—the customer will have the same data-driven, personalized experience every time.

Implementing the latest contact center automation trends is not as simple as adding a new piece of software. Customer experience executives must make sure that each automation solution they add to their tech stack is part of a larger strategy so each tool works with the others to improve the customer experience, increase revenue, and enable contact center staff to focus on doing their best work.

Learn how Verizon is delivering intuitive customer support with contact center automation solutions such as chatbots, faster processing and real-time customer service agent assistance.