Anyone who has ever received a call and been asked to wait for a representative to return to the phone has realized that the way call centers work has been rapidly changing. Consumers are no longer put on hold only when they make a call, they are just as likely to be put on hold when they receive a call.
Equally confusing is when a consumer answers a call and believes someone is speaking to them only to realize at some point that it is a recording or a computer. While both of these may be frustrating and confusing to people initially, they are great examples of the big changes that have been happening over the past few years in the call center industry.
Customer Service Innovations
One of the most significant areas of change to develop over the past several years is the level of customer service satisfaction. One of the tools that has allowed outbound call centers to become more effective at keeping those they are calling happy is the preview dialer. This allows operators to review customer files prior to making the call. This ensures that they are familiar with the situation and do not face a frustrated client who is tired of explaining a situation to new people.
Technological advancements have also made it easier than ever to ensure all calls are complaint with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It removes the names of those who have opted out to receive calls from an automated program. This greatly reduces the number of people reached who are not only uninterested in the call but who have a specific preference in not receiving calls.
Implementing Artificial Intelligence
No one has yet created true artificial machine intelligence. However, natural language processing (NLP) certainly makes it seem as though artificial intelligence has arrived. This is a field of study and innovation that gives computers the information and algorithms necessary to understand typical human speech the way it is naturally spoken.
Previously, in order to talk to a machine, it was necessary to speak clearly and with precision that is unnatural for most people. It allows computers to gather information that is implied rather than specifically stated. Computers are being taught to understand slang, euphemisms, and common abbreviations. For example, if someone said they wanted to know more about cloud storage solutions the interface would recognize the word cloud was being used for remote digital storage rather than a mass of water vapor in the sky.
This is beneficial for call centers specifically because it allows an automated computer interface to work more efficiently with consumers. It also allows recorded calls to be analyzed.
The Power of Big Data
The amount of data available to marketers today is unprecedented. The potential of NLP could increase the already remarkable amount of information available exponentially. It is possible with speech recognition software and NLP to determine things like age which help companies target their marketing efforts more effectively.
Big data can also be utilized to train employees more quickly and easily. Automated computer training programs can use previous calls as training material to ensure that each trainee is given simulations that accurately reflect real world experiences. This can reduce training time and better prepare newly hired individuals for the reality of working in a call center.
With all the advances in technology and the changes that have been occurring in the call center industry many are wondering what will happen next. One exciting prospect is virtual reality. Perhaps one day calls will be immersive virtual reality experiences that will be an enjoyable entertainment consumers will welcome rather than dread.