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Deploying Generative and Predictive AI to Enhance the Call Center Agent Experience

by Judith Platz, Chief Customer Officer, SupportLogic - October 1, 2023

Deploying Generative & Predictive AI to Enhance the Call Center Agent Experience

Author: Judith Platz, Chief Customer Officer at SupportLogic

In the dynamic realm of customer support and customer experience (CX), the spotlight is often on delivering unparalleled customer service. While many corporations prioritize the right investments and strategies to ensure an outstanding CX, the support agents driving these customer experiences can get lost in the shuffle. But with new technologies and further insight amid this pursuit, a pivotal shift is emerging – one that places call center agents at the forefront.

To create unrivaled CX, the company's internal employees must have a positive working experience, following the saying coined by author Jeanette Jenkins: "You get out what you put in." Essentially, if you transform the agent experience (AX), you'll automatically transform the CX. This especially rings true when it comes to call centers. Undeniably, CX is intricately linked to the performance of agents, so prioritizing the well-being and retention of agents is the first step in unlocking the full potential of support. 

Tackling the Challenge of Agent Turnover 

The call center industry routinely grapples with a problem threatening its ability to offer remarkable customer service: high agent turnover rates. According to Quality Assurance Training Connection research, the call center industry has an astonishing turnover rate of 30 to 45% due to time-consuming administrative tasks, an excessive workload, and difficulties with existing software and workflow tools. This high churn poses critical challenges – missed business opportunities, reputational damage due to inadequate support, and a widening staffing gap. A robust foundation of internal support systems is imperative to address these issues, so companies are turning to technology to alleviate stress on agents and the customers they serve.

The Role of AI in Transforming Support 

According to a study by TELUS International, 72% of executives are allocating a higher budget for enhancing digital CX in 2023 compared to the previous year. Among these leaders, 68% have augmented their digital funds by 25%, focusing on technologies such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, AI, and customer analytics. Predictive AI tech paired with generative AI, a system designed to create or generate new forms of data, has emerged as a powerful solution for call centers grappling with agent retention challenges, fundamentally transforming the landscape of customer assistance.

Call center agents statistically perform better when both forms of AI technology is embedded into the agent experience strategy. Businesses can harness the power of machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics to mitigate agent burnout and offer a hybrid support model in which the traditional roles like agents and managers work in tandem with new assistive GenAI tools that support agents in processing large amounts of language data, in turn, generating smart responses with immediacy across language barriers. This, in turn, enhances their day-to-day responsibilities and positively influences their overall job satisfaction. 

Here are five ways AI can enhance the agent experience:

  1. Reduce the Strain Tedious Tasks Have on Agents: Call center agents are sick of relying on legacy tools to do their jobs. They spend most of their time using antiquated systems to determine the problem, research the issue, and collaborate with other agents to try fixing it. By utilizing automated routing, routine tasks and basic customer inquiries can be directed to AI virtual agents and chatbots, allowing human agents to focus on complex issues and reducing the resolution time. These AI-driven tools improve job satisfaction by alleviating agent burnout and boosting productivity. In addition, agents are happier when they understand the products and software they're using and know that their company is investing in the tools they need to succeed.

  2. Anticipating and Preventing Escalations: Predictive AI employs ML and natural language processing to analyze warning signs from past interactions to assess a customer's escalating risk, optimizing resource allocation for support managers. It also analyzes support data, including cases, chat logs, and email interactions, to help agents identify patterns, trends, and customer preferences that might otherwise go unnoticed. Investing in an improved support experience yields benefits for product quality, brand perception, and overall employee efficiency. In addition to helping agents prevent customer escalations, predictive AI helps improve SLA compliance/MTTR and optimize resources by determining what needs to be prioritized.  

  3. Response Assistance for Agent Training and Skill Enhancement: Employee reskilling and upskilling are critical investments on which some of the world's most successful companies are setting their sights. Verizon recently initiated a $44 million program to upskill its workforce, equipping employees with essential technical competencies required for high-demand roles. Additionally, Amazon is dedicating $1.2 billion to enhance the skills of 750,000 frontline workers. Looking ahead to 2030, the global job landscape will undergo a profound transformation due to digital advancements, impacting over a billion jobs across the globe.

Companies of any size can leverage generative AI's content generation abilities to streamline essential tasks, including training, by intelligently assisting in coaching and upskilling new team members. AI also aids in developing soft skills so agents can help solve the customer's inquiry with accuracy and empathy while upholding an on-brand communication style with clear intent. 

  1. Globalize Your Team with Translation Assistance: Language translation is another vital capability of generative AI designed to ensure consistent quality service regardless of language barriers. Globalizing your team with multilingual support expands the brand's market reach and allows agents to respond to any customer confidently.

  2. Case Summarization for Better Job Satisfaction: Generative AI synthesizes extensive customer data to generate comprehensive case summaries, improving efficiency and accuracy by providing agents with insights into customer activity and trends without manual report creation. By embracing these approaches, businesses elevate the agent experience, reduce training time, and maintain agility amidst economic fluctuations. 

The impact of AI on customer support transcends service quality and issue resolution. Predictive AI's data interpretation is vital to addressing common support challenges, from fragmented customer data to backlogs and limited visibility into attrition. When combined with powerful generative AI, these challenges mitigate agent turnover and exhaustion, enhancing support operations. This marks a profound transformation as AI enhances problem-solving capabilities and nurtures relationships with existing customers. Simultaneously, it improves the agent experience, retaining top-tier talent and supporting their daily endeavors.

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