The current global health crisis is causing anxiety among customers and subsequently contact centers are facing two major challenges. Firstly, a significant increase in call volumes and secondly, the transition of employees to remote working and the potential of staff shortages.
An industry report recently published by Accenture suggests that nearly 57% of customers rate voice call support as their preference for issue resolution during a crisis. However, considering that burgeoning call volumes impact the already stretched workforce, directing inbound calls to digital messaging channels can provide much needed respite for both customers and contact center teams.
Call deflection is the most promising solution. Deflecting inbound inquiries to interactive digital messaging channels or self-service portals powered by AI chatbots can provide quick issue resolution to customers’ routine queries. This also reduces the pressure on agents who can focus on more complex inquires without being overloaded.
Proactive and reactive call deflection are two ways of diverting customer calls to alternative channels. Proactive call deflection begins with pre-empting customers’ needs and reaching out to them using interactive channels to communicate availability and service updates. Reactive call deflection allows for customers to choose an alternative channel of communication once they have called the business. Both of these methods can be seamlessly integrated into contact center operations to deliver effective and efficient customer service.
Our experts at IMImobile recently held a webinar to explain different use cases of proactive and reactive call deflection in more detail and show how, when combined with automation and AI, lends itself to impactful customer service and streamlined contact center operations.
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Breaking down proactive call deflection
An important part of crisis communications is proactive messaging. Setting expectations with your customers across all communication channels is essential. For instance, it is important to keep your customers informed of your working hours, the ability or inability to deliver certain services and the suggested alternatives wherever possible. This creates an opportunity for your customers to interact with you on messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Apple Business Chat that provide a richer messaging experience.
Automating customer journeys in order to send out proactive alerts on the status of your service can also significantly reduce the volume of customer inquiries. Leveraging AI-powered chatbots to answer routine inquiries enables customers to have a more conversational experience while getting to a resolution faster. Setting up automated FAQ bots that can predict the nature of an inquiry using natural language processing will further expedite issue resolution speed.
Proactive call deflection, when combined with automation, allows customers to operate in a self-serve mode where they can resolve their inquiries by having a two-way interaction with an AI-powered chatbot without having to wait for a human agent. However, more complex and urgent queries can be seamlessly directed to a human agent who can resolve using live chat or a voice call. It also allows the agent to handle multiple inquiries simultaneously as opposed to addressing requests on calls, sequentially. This not only increases agent productivity but also significantly reduces the cost to serve for your contact center.
Effectiveness of reactive call deflection
Reactive call deflection allows your customers to drive the interaction on a channel of their choice once they have called the contact center or IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Offering customers an option to engage on alternative channels allows them the flexibility to resolve the issue in self-serve mode. They can also be directed to an agent over interfaces like web chat or live chat for further real-time assistance.
Deflecting calls from IVR to digital messaging channels with AI-powered chatbots allows customers to resolve their issues in self-serve mode, often in a faster and more interactive way. Contact centers can further manage inbound calls by setting up call back assist to avoid having customers queuing up or having to wait for long times.
Voice is an integral channel in a contact center and even more so in times of crisis. Therefore, another effective way of enhancing reactive call deflection is by automating your IVR to include more options that encourage customers to dynamically self-serve or to continue the conversation on an alternative messaging channel like SMS, Facebook Messenger among others.
For example, a customer may reach out to a mobile operator as they have gone over their data limit. The call center can then provide the customer with an option to top up their data plan via the IVR or by deflecting the journey to an SMS asking the customer to send a text message to a specific number which will top up their data plan. In both cases, the customer resolved their issue without having to speak to an agent. Identifying the nature and urgency of inquiries that can be handled in self-serve mode through AI-powered chatbots or by a human agent is a crucial step that supports the process of reactive call deflection.
AI-powered self-service and automation
Gartner suggest that over 40% of today’s live volume could be diverted to self-service channels while IBM states that AI-powered chatbots can be instrumental in saving customer service costs with faster response times, enabling agents to attend to more challenging work, and answering up to 80% of routine questions.
Call deflection, used in combination with automation and AI, empowers you to manage your call volumes efficiently while delivering seamless and impactful customer service.
Contact us to find out more about how call deflection can be applied across various industries and customized for unique business scenarios.