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Managing the holiday haze: How AI helps your Contact Center go the distance

by Contributor

Contact centers are foundational to customer experience, but a lot of businesses get stuck during the haze of the holiday season. Customers call in droves (it’s not uncommon to see call volumes increase by as much as 41% between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone), all expecting smooth and satisfying service regardless of how many others are behind them in the queue. Companies are under immense pressure to keep their contact centers moving at breakneck speed while leveraging the same resources, or even less. 

Finding more employees to handle inquiries isn’t a realistic option amidst budget cuts and high turnover rates. The most practical solution to this problem is to implement AI technologies that help you embrace the challenge of doing more with less while opening the door to new CX innovation. 

In this article, we’ll look at how AI helps companies sustain service levels at scale (during and after the holiday rush) while finding new ways to raise the bar for customer experience. Plus, we’ll explore the importance of being able to choose your own path and pace toward contact center AI so that your investment delivers the greatest business benefits. 

How AI helps balance speed and quality in the Contact Center

A winning customer experience requires information, insight, and right-time action, and AI infuses all three into your service strategy. Here are three ways companies can use the power of AI to scale service while gaining deeper insights that drive CX and efficiency.  

  1. Open the floodgates of customer support with personalized, 24/7 Service 

AI is always on and ready to support customers, wherever they are and however they want to engage. Customers can start a chat session, speak with a virtual bot, or even send a text message and engage in a natural and conversational way with immediate, personalized assistance 24/7– always with the option to escalate to a human during set business hours.  

Did you know? In a 2023 study conducted by LivePerson, 20% of customers said they would never wait on hold and would instead opt for an AI-led conversation. That’s a significant number of conversations that could be lost to a dreaded call queue.

2. Supercharge agent performance  

Your agents are your prized possession. They’re the reason customers reach out for help, and they’re the reason they’ll either call again or never will. There are several ways AI can be integrated to help agents do what they do best.  

  • AI noise removal keeps lines of communication crystal clear, no matter where conversations are happening. Clear communication means fewer distractions and requests to repeat information. Conversations will flow faster, queue times will shorten, and everyone will be happier with the outcome.   
  • Virtual agents don’t just help customers; they’ll stay in escalated sessions to further assist employees. For instance, the VA might pull interaction details or applicable policies or discounts that the employee can offer mid-conversation, better positioning them to personalize the customer’s experience and get them the answers they need fast. 
  • Intelligent routing helps optimize customer-employee pairing for every call, maximizing personalization, avoiding agent frustration, and minimizing transfers that keep callers waiting on hold. The result is faster service that actually helps build customer-brand connections. 

3. Speed up authentication, innovate CX, and reduce operational costs 

AI can be used to digitally verify customers in a completely secure, encrypted way that reduces traditional authentication by as much as 90 seconds per call and saves as much as $3 per caller. New account creation, caller authentication, and any sort of interaction or transaction like payments, eSignagures, eForms, and document exchange will be based on verified identity, taking just seconds to complete in a way that is ultra-secure and privacy-preserving. You can explore compelling business cases for this emerging use of AI in the contact center here.

Innovate without disruption by creating your own AI playbook 

Companies need to move the needle forward to competitively grow, but they have to balance this need for speed with the needs of their existing technologies. The answer is a powerful, flexible cloud solution that puts you in the driver’s seat with control over how hard you press the pedal toward innovation. You can start by just adding certain capabilities to your on-premises platform, take a faster path to cloud/AI with an environment that’s built just for you, and anything in between. AI may be sweeping the contact center, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to integrating it within your environment. It’s crucial that businesses work with a provider who lets them move at a pace that makes sense for them.   See how Avaya can help you embrace AI without changing what works.

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