“Interaction Inflation” and 10 Tips to Save Time and Money in the Contact Center with AI and Analytics
Interaction Inflation is Running Hot!
Inflation is a hot topic these days controlling everything from the stock market to the pocketbook. Across politics, finance, business, and seemingly every industry, everyone has a microscope on the price of goods and services. Such is true in the contact center. The increasing cost of labor and uncertainty in the market have managers tightening forecasts and budgets.
A distinct type of inflation is currently hampering contact centers: “interaction inflation.” Like today’s inflation being fueled by an increase in money supply a few years ago, interaction inflation is caused by an explosion in communication channels—social media, messaging apps, SMS text, email, live chat, and of course, voice. And much like the supply chain bottlenecks have compounded the inflation problem, fragmented journeys that force customers to start over on each channel create more interactions! Cue the music…
It’s a Mo Channels Mo Problems predicament!
In general, more ways to communicate and increased flexibility are great for the customer but aren’t free for the business. In fact, Gartner estimates that live channels such as phone, live chat, and email are roughly 80 times more expensive compared to self-service channels such as company-run websites and mobile apps. Live customer service isn’t going away, but the staggering cost difference does beg the question: how can live customer service be more efficient, or what can curb interaction inflation?
How to Curb Interaction Inflation?
To answer this question, we can turn to one of the unique advantages of ElevateAI, which is being part of NICE, the worldwide leader in AI-powered self-service and agent-assisted CX software. More than 25k organizations in 150 countries, including 85 of the fortune 100, partner with NICE to deliver CX. So, across these partnerships, we can analyze the interactions from the best brands in the world, those that are profitable leaders in their industry, and figure out their secrets to success.
Here is a top 10 list of how the world’s best brands use analytics to save time and money while still delivering great CX.
#1 Identify Automation Opportunities
Typically, a contact center handles many customer inquiries that vary in complexity (e.g., checking a balance is simple, but disputing a charge is complex). Transcribing voice conversations gives business analysts a large, robust dataset to mine for high-volume but simple call drivers. It can be eye-opening for organizations how frequently customers need to speak to a live agent for routine tasks like changing an address, resetting a password, or scheduling an appointment.
Pro Tip – Identify high-volume but simple call drivers and give this list to your digital automation teams to help them prioritize their roadmap.
#2 Reduce Call Volume
A famous business management quote from Peter Drucker says: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Organizations must transcribe voice calls to programmatically categorize and objectively measure volumes to determine how to improve. Once organizations have a solid understanding of call drivers and volumes, they can take a data-driven approach to decide where to invest in self-service options, such as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) webpage or how-to articles.
Pro Tip – Measure how frequently customer service representatives promote self-service options and incorporate this data into your coaching and incentive plans.
#3 Analyze Customer Sentiment
News flash: customers aren’t calling brands to tell them how happy they are with their products and services. Understanding the feelings and emotions of customers, along with the root cause of negative sentiment, can generate game-changing insights. By analyzing customer sentiment, businesses can identify trends and patterns in unsolicited customer feedback and take action to address any issue or concern that may arise.
Pro Tip – Track sentiment throughout the interaction to determine what words, phrases, or conversational topics cause sentiment to drastically increase or decrease (e.g., interactions that start out negative but turn positive, and vice-versa).
#4 Reduce Non-Interaction Time
The costliest thing in contact centers is non-interaction time or dead air, the long moments of silence or hold where neither the agent nor the customer interacts. It can be caused by many things: the agent could be researching information, waiting for the customer to reply, having trouble with a slow system, or even taking a quick break! Non-interaction time is inefficient, but determining the root cause and reducing it can quickly save time and money.
Pro Tip – Non-interaction time early in the interaction tends to be caused by inappropriate actions, such as finishing notes from previous interactions or sneaking a quick break. Also, excellent quality programs ensure agents use positive behaviors like setting expectations and demonstrating ownership to reduce non-interaction time.
#5 Diagnose High-Effort Interactions
There is often a ton of variability in the length of interactions in a contact center, with the longest measuring double-digits in minutes. Since these super-long interactions are the most expensive and often are about the most severe customer problems, it’s crucial to understand what’s being discussed.
Pro Tip – Share the insights across the organization since the root cause of super–long interactions is multi-faceted, where product, support, sales, and marketing teams may all have opportunities to act on the insight.
#6 Stop Transfers
Nothing causes more interaction inflation than having to transfer a customer. Transcribing the interaction, including dual channel, to pinpoint what the customer and agent are saying before the transfer can offer insight into process, training, or skill issues.
Pro Tip – Short interactions that end in a transfer are typically misroutes due to an underlying flaw in the contact center’s routing logic. Using transcription to determine the customer’s intent across these interactions can expedite determining the root cause and a long-term fix.
#7 Understand Common Issues and Concerns
Conversations are the lifeblood of business. Every conversation contains valuable insight into products, services, processes, and customer needs. And every good conversation starts with listening. That’s why, in today’s ultra-competitive business landscape, truly listening—at scale—to extract insights from conversations can make or break a business.
Pro Tip – Great product teams love customer feedback and keep a pulse on the unsolicited feedback from the contact center. They understand their customers’ common issues, concerns, and needs, how this information is trending, and use it when prioritizing new features and supporting processes. In the long run, this improves CX and saves time and money with smart decision-making.
#8 Determine Where Top-performers Struggle
Focusing on where top-performing agents struggle can unlock meaningful insights into saving time and money for the entire organization. Since top performers are the most reliable and typically give their best efforts, their struggles are often outside their control, perhaps due to a broken process or a buggy system they are forced to work with.
Pro Tip – In hybrid or remote work environments, obtaining direct feedback from top performers can be challenging. Analyzing the transcripts of top performers’ “worst” interactions—those with high non-interaction time or lots of cross-talk—can unlock IT inefficiencies hampering the contact center.
#9 Encourage Empathy
Has someone ever said something to you that calmed you down, alleviated your stress, and put you in a better place? Chances are it was an empathetic form of communication where the other person could understand and share your feelings. “I understand…” or “I’m here for you…” can go a long way to turning things positive and reducing the time and effort necessary to complete the interaction.
Pro Tip – Use ElevateAI CX AI features to analyze for empathy across your agents to find notable examples and then save and share them in coaching and onboarding programs. Since empathy can take on many forms, it’s a terrific way to educate while recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence.
#10 Invest in the Right Technology
There are many technology options in the market with different pricing. Sometimes, the most straightforward way to save money is to not overpay for a solution. We created ElevateAI to be the lowest-cost API to transcribe and understand contact interactions. Our service targets to be 70% less expensive than any other vendor, just as accurate, and geared for contact center applications.
Pro Tip – If you use a speech-to-text transcription vendor today, try ElevateAI. The basic tier offers ~200 FREE hours per month for life!
In conclusion, being aware of “interaction inflation” and the downside effects of increasing the number of channels offered to customers is crucial. The good news is that with a strategy built on data and powered by AI, organizations of all sizes can save time and money while also becoming more efficient across the contact center.
By implementing these top 10 ways to save time and money with contact center analytics in 2023, companies can not only keep up with the demands of interaction inflation but stay ahead of the curve and stand out from the competition.
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