AI & Business

How to Improve Customer Experience in Call Centres with Voice Bots: 5 Common Challenges

The call centre. Some will shudder at the slightest thought of it, and they might have their own reasons, oftentimes quite substantiated as well. Many of your clients will have their own hellish stories or unpleasant experiences from when they called in and, say, got bounced around from agent to agent after staying on the line for an hour. Since you’re reading this article, your company probably has a call centre and you’re most likely aware of the reputation they have. Though they are supposed to be sources of information at support, customers believe they simply don’t seem to function too well. And they may not be wrong.

Indeed, the problem seems to be getting worse more so than anything else. Average handling times are up from 18 seconds to 20 minutes, most call centres are underfunded, and customer trust remains low. A staggering 81% of customers will not refer to a call centre unless they exhaust all options involving solving their problem themselves.

Improving the functionality of a call centre may thus be an uphill battle. But what if there was a solution that could supersede it almost entirely, giving the clients what they need – simplicity, reliability, and quality customer service – without hiring a thousand consultants to make sure phone lines are free and requests get processed in a flash?

Well, a solution like that does exist, and it’s called a voice bot. And today, we’ll talk about how voice bots can help you overcome the mounting challenges connected with running and maintaining an efficient call centre.

What Is a Voice Bot?

Back in our Bot Building Series, we gave voice bots a proper introduction, coupled with a brief analysis of what they can achieve in a more general context. So, let’s get a quick overview out of the way and proceed to a more in-depth look of their application in a call centre environment.

In the simplest terms possible, voice bots are voice-activated chatbots, meaning they can receive and interpret voice commands, and respond through voice communication as well, unlike their text-based counterparts.

Difference Between Voice Bots and IVR

The technology behind voice bots has come a long way, especially recently. Current projections see voice bots only gaining popularity and adoption on the market, but if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of what makes them special, you could easily confuse voice bots with IVRs. Let’s briefly talk about that.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have been commonplace in businesses big and small for decades. Banks, hospitals, hotels, tourism agencies, and many, many other establishments have opted to utilize this technology in lieu of human consultants having to guide callers from start to finish. To that end, IVRs have by and large been an adequate solution, albeit not without their problems. Clients calling in will have to sit through a welcoming message, listen as various options are listed by the system, wait until they hear which number to press to connect to the right department, and then wait for a consultant to pick up. That’s an ordeal in and of itself.

Problems start to mount quickly once you account for the human factor. While it’s normal to make mistakes or press the wrong button by accident, IVR systems don’t really allow for that, or at best require listening until the voice is done reciting available options and hoping it lists the right key to go back. Secondly, a human agent understands nuance and context, for which there is no room in an IVR system and everything is listed in a very black or white way. Each department or type of issue has an assigned number, and there’s no room for edge cases or uncommon scenarios.

AI voice bots, on the other hand, don’t have to deal with such roadblocks, and may very well be the future of customer service. They are equipped with advanced natural language processing (NLP) and understanding (NLU) capabilities, meaning they don’t require manual input to first categorise the conversation in any way to direct clients to the right source of knowledge. In fact, they are the source of knowledge themselves, and simply a clear step up from IVR systems.

Top Challenges in Call Centres (& How to Fix Them)

I think we clearly established that improvements in customer service are possible. If you run your own call centre, encounter problems with its functionality, and are now curious about implementing an AI voice bot to remedy these problems, you’re in the right place! Below, we walk you through 5 most notorious call centre challenges voice bots can help you with.

1. High Volume of Calls

If the sheer number of clients calling in overwhelms the capability of your customer service team even despite partial IVR automation, you’re likely dealing with backed-up phone lines and the aforementioned grossly exaggerated handling times. Implementing a voice bot could whisk those woes away, as with the right programming, they can answer the most prevalent questions, solve customer issues without the need for human involvement, and be available all the time rather than only for the length of a shift. More processed calls means less wasted time means happier customers!

On top of that, projections by reputable sources such as consulting behemoth McKinsey already foresee human interactions in customer support decreasing by 30% over the coming years, putting chatbots and voice bots in the perfect position to snap these interactions up and make service quicker and easier for callers.

2. Call Spikes

At certain times during the day, such as during lunch or between 4 and 5 p.m., the number of calls made to your call centres reaches a high point, and the whole system gets routinely overwhelmed. Human agents can only handle one call at a time, and voice bots can help to greatly offload the strain from your personnel. To illustrate with an example, SentiOne’s own client, Alior Bank, has been able to direct 55% of their calls to the voice bot, which is even a step above the typical ballpark of 30–40%.

3. High Attrition and Agent Burnout

Let’s not beat around the bush: answering phones all day isn’t the most glorious, fulfilling work. Employee turnover rates in call centres have consistently remained at a pretty high 30–45%. Offloading the most repetitive and menial tasks could help prevent your staff from leaving while making them feel more fulfilled in their work. Let’s not forget about the true potential of actual human workers and how much they could use that potential – voice bots are still just bots, which means that creative work is largely way out of their league. Implementing them as part of your CS team could help you restructure and manage your human resources more reasonably, and on top of that, enable you to move agents to do more complex work with the added benefit of giving them engaging responsibilities, less stress, and lower risk of professional burnout.

4. IVR Inefficiencies

This one is by far the biggest issue voice bots can help resolve. The simple fact is that IVR systems, though they facilitate the workflow in call centres, each and every customer still has to get serviced by a human agent. Pressing buttons in order to get directed to the right department or team doesn’t resolve issues with unpaid bills, missing orders, or what have you.

To truly tackle call centre challenges, an innovative solution would have to operate as an end-to-end service, without requiring human intervention, at least not always. Voice bots are exactly that, as their programming, if done correctly, can benefit companies in any industry through efficient call automation.

Let’s take a shipping company as an example. To maximise the ROI of a voice bot in such a scenario, its NLU needs to be able to service all of the most common questions that clients call in with (missing/delayed/wrong order, checking order status, payment, cancellations, scheduling delivery or pick up at specific times etc.), and be ready to transfer to a human agent if the issue proves complicated enough to the point the voice bot cannot handle it by itself. But hold on, if the voice bot couldn’t handle the request, wouldn’t that mean it’s not that much better than the IVR your company may already have in place? Well, not necessarily, since the conversation was already screened by the voice bot as it was going on, and it will pass on all the key information to the agent as it transfers the call, which saves time and potential frustration for both parties.

Plus, unlike IVRs, AI voice bots can provide a personalised service by remembering previous interactions, relevant information such as customer names, and other bits that make the experience seem more real and client-centric. To sum it up, the benefits overwhelmingly favour voice bots, as companies that rely on automation amass 20% greater profits, compared to companies that don’t, which only bring in 5% extra ROI.

5. Bad Customer Experience

Picture sitting on a line to a call centre. You’re already fussed about some issue, doubly so because you’re forced to call and wait in the line listening to terrible on-hold music. Finally, you get through to someone, only to get told they can’t help you, but will forward you to another department. Begrudgingly, you agree, as if you had another choice, but now not only do you have to wait again, but you also need to repeat the nature of your problem to the next person. On the spectrum of poor customer experience, that’s only quite bad, and it could get much more frustrating, as I’m sure you’re well aware. Imagine having to verify your identity by confirming a password you set up with the service, say, 7 years ago. All of this screams just two things: outdated and frustrating procedures.

Enter voice bots. They can eliminate basically every one of those issues, handling the customer’s request, passing the call to an agent if needed, and all within a fraction of the time it takes to get there via an IVR. Even matters of authentication can become much easier through secure voice-enabled client verification. Just make sure you’ve taken the right steps to mitigate any security risks connected with conversational AI.

Improve Call Centre Customer Service with SentiOne Automate

By implementing voice bots to deal with common inquiries and tasks, you can greatly improve your customers’ experience while interacting with your call centre. If you’re ready to learn more about the best practices for voice bot usage, take a look at our whitepapers and dive deep into the potential applications based on knowledge straight from top industry pros.

But don’t just take our word for it – book a demo today, see the true potential of voice bots firsthand, and find out how to achieve exceptional customer service while reducing operating costs with the power of conversational AI.

Article Summary

If your call centre is facing mounting challenges, voice bots could be the solution you’re looking for. This article discusses how voice bots can address common issues in call centres, such as a high volume of calls, call spikes during peak hours, high attrition rates, IVR inefficiencies, and bad customer experiences. Voice bots can efficiently handle routine inquiries, reduce wait times, and improve overall customer service. With the potential to decrease human interactions in customer support, these bots can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your call centre operations, leading to happier customers and lower operating costs.