The current labor shortage is a big problem, especially for contact centers. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “The average number of live job openings in call, contact and customer care centers advertised on Ziprecruiter.com in February was more than double that of the average the year earlier before the pandemic, according to the recruitment platform.”
Without enough agents in a contact center, customers cannot get the help they need. Not to mention, revenue and brand loyalty drop fast.
So how can brands recover from the current and prepare for future labor shortages?
The answer is technology.
But not just any technology.
In order to address the delicate balance of customer experience and scalability, the technology implemented must be able to deliver human levels of conversation and understanding. In other words, customers shouldn’t feel like they are talking to a robot.
Read on to learn 6 reasons that investing in Conversational AI applications like virtual agents can optimize the contact center workforce to keep customer experience and scalability high:
Handle unlimited volume
Even if live agents are unavailable, Conversational AI applications like virtual agents can scale to handle unlimited conversations while providing the same consistent experience. This eliminates hold times for customers and lets them take care of what they need to, despite staffing shortages. Virtual agents also scale quickly to handle unpredicted or seasonal volume. This eliminates the need to hire seasonal agents and significantly lowers hiring and training costs.
Grow your business
Hiring rates can affect the growth of your company. When you can’t hire, you can’t grow. Automation with virtual agents supports business growth in this situation by optimizing the labor you have available.
Improve Agent Experience
The number one priority for all agents is helping people. However, when the contact center is understaffed, by the time customers reach an agent, they’re already frustrated and angry. Dealing with angry and frustrated customers can take its toll on agents and cause burnout and hurt retention rates.
Virtual agents reduce long wait times and queues, thus eliminating customer frustration. A well-integrated Conversational AI system also helps agents find information faster so they can spend more time assisting the customer, rather than digging through various complicated systems. Letting AI lead customer interactions can help position agents where they are needed most.
Data protection is important. With virtual agents handling sensitive transactions, live agents are removed from the process. This reduces the risk of them obtaining or illegally using customers’ personal information. Virtual agents also abide by business rules, so they don’t go off script and would never ask for personal information that is not required.
Offer 24/7 Service
Customers like to take care of tasks when it is convenient for them, which is often outside of normal business hours. Virtual agents can support your customers regardless of the channel they prefer, what day of the week or time it is, providing more flexibility for your customers.
Don’t forget BCP
Virtual agents can play a big role in a brand’s business continuity planning (BCP). For example, during the pandemic many agents could not physically be at the contact center and then had to transition to a work-from-home model. Many brands turned to virtual agents to keep their business running smoothly despite these challenges, and were able to support their customers with little interruption during these times.