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Reduce average handle time in call center thanks to chat automation

by Luca Cermelli | September 07, 2017

call center, chat automation

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One of the biggest challenges of call centers is maintaining a decent average handle time during its peak hours. The more support requests that come in, the longer customers have to wait to get entertained by a free agent.

Since last year, there has been a new technology that is becoming more mainstream: chatbots! Through chat automation, companies can now serve customers 24/7 and reduce evening support staff costs.

 

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Chatbots in call centers

Some call centers have started to experiment with chat automation to help reduce customer wait times. While chatbots are still far from replacing human staff completely, automated chat capabilities help provide support especially for customers that have simple needs or questions. For assistance requests that require more complexity, then that should definitely be handled by a live agent.

Involving chatbots or virtual assistants to your customer service strategy is also becoming a popular part of contact centers’ deflection strategy. Experiences of call centers using chatbots for call deflection vary since call centers that adopt virtual assistants report anywhere between 20-80% call deflection. Imagine that; reducing calls by anywhere from a fifth to more than half!

There are several factors that can affect how well you reduce call center volume from chat automation. It could be anything from the placement of your chat bot in pages to how effective your chatbots are when engaged in conversation.

Despite this, even with the increased popularity of chat automation today, there are still many doubts and hesitations when it comes to implementing a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistant intelligence

One thing for sure is that majority of people can still tell the difference between a virtual and a live assistant even in the first few lines of chat. This is why you should not make chatbots as the centre of your customer service strategy, but they should definitely play a support role, if you do plan to implement them. After all, a contact center supported by a well implemented chat automation application will have less inbound call and chat requests than those who don’t.

But if customers can contact a virtual assistant from a live one and virtual assistants are still lacking when it comes to customer satisfaction, then why implement them at all?

Well, chatbots still have a place in customer service even if they are less helpful than live agents. After all, if a customer wants a quick and easy answer to a simple question that they have and they don’t want to wait for a live agent, then they won’t hesitate in using your chatbot.

Just remember that when implementing chat bots, make sure you don’t hide the fact that they aren’t live agents. Trying to pass off chat bots as live agents is a futile exercise.

Technology improves

With the many benefits brought by chatbots, a lot of money and effort are being invested in perfecting the technology. Today’s technology leaders and big names such as Google, Slack, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, just to name a few, are betting big on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies that will affect chat automation such as Deep Learning-based technologies.

Eventually, the drawbacks of using chat automation will diminish and chatbots will come closer to satisfying more and more customer requests, and that’s happening quickly. This is why you should find a way to involve chatbots in your strategy now for when that time comes.

With the popularity and ever increasing interest in technologies such as Deep Learning-based technologies, which is an AI function that copies how the human brain works in processing data and creating patterns for use in decision making, chatbots can use improved semantic analysis which will allow it eventually to understand and sound more and more human.

Conclusion

Average handle time is a key metric for call centers to monitor and reduce. Having a strong and well-thought out call deflection strategy that includes chat automation will be helpful in achieving this.

While call deflection measures such as frequently asked questions page, resource centers, forums and libraries have been used by companies on their website, virtual assistants or chatbots provide you with another option for reducing call center volumes.

 

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Topics: call center, chat automation