Artificial Intelligence: Improving Performance in Call Centers

Artificial Intelligence Used in Call Centers

In many ways Hollywood has done artificial intelligence (AI) a disservice. Too many movies depict AI as being an all-powerful computer system, often incorporating unstable emotions, that is powerful enough to outthink humans. In same cases AI characters are shown as ruthless and ambitious enough to take over the world.

 

Of course, artificial intelligence in the real world has tremendous value but in most cases it is far more mundane than Hollywood’s romanticized version. Instead of being the brains behind megalomaniac robots, artificial intelligence represents the practical application of machine learning.  It is a way for machines to learn from past experiences and thus provide more accurate results in the future.

How is Artificial Intelligence Relevant to Call Centers

Call Centers generate large data sets. Much of these are in non-traditional non-linear formats, such as voice data recordings. Artificial Intelligence systems have been built to ingest this huge quantity of data to help make Call Centers more efficient and to help improve the customer experience.

 

A key part of this is the way computers can use natural language processing to understand unstructured data such as voice recordings. At its simplest level, this involves computers using a database of sounds that combine to make recognizable words, which a computer then compares to the sounds that people make in their  phone calls. At a higher level, this analysis uses more complex databases and algorithms that record and recognise emotions and behavior. Intelligent machines continually  improve their understanding as they analyze more data.

 

In practice, AI is already used by many firms in their telephone systems. One example occurs when a computer-generated voice asks a firm’s customers to state the purpose for their call. The AI uses some type of natural language processing to analyze the response, determining who the caller truly wants to talk to, and then redirecting them to the appropriate extension.

 

Voice analytics is a type of artificial intelligence employed by Call Centers to help them better understand their customers’ wishes. A system can, for instance, recognise from a particular combination of tones in a customer’s voice that they are angry, and ensure that the agent dealing with the call knows this, so that they can react appropriately.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve a Call Center’s Performance

The ability to analyze a call center’s unstructured data brings huge potential for a Call Center to better meet its clients’ needs. This can be as simple as ensuring that a customer is quickly redirected to the most suitable customer service officer for what they are wanting to do.

 

It also means that there can be a wealth of information available for an agent, minimising the need for a customer to repeat themselves over multiple phone calls. This data can be collected from many sources and then organized in such a way that the agent can better help the customer. It also means that agents can waste less time, as they will have a much better idea of which customers they should spend time pitching a product to, and those they should avoid.

 

Then of course there is the whole field of predictive voice analytics which looks at the meaning behind the words spoken by customers (and agents). This can provide a truly sophisticated understanding of what people actually mean as they talk in calls, and the emotions they’re feeling, even if the words they use contradict this. As with all artificial intelligence, the quality of the predictive analytics improves over time as the computers learn from additional data.

 

Voice analytics also analyzes the agents’ sides of conversations, and this can help find particular agents’ strengths and weaknesses, and better match agents with customers.

 

An important point to remember, though is that artificial intelligence is simply a tool designed to help improve the overall call experience. Routine transactions will often be computer controlled, but it is unlikely that robots will ever fully replace humans in the call center. Customers expect to talk to well-trained customer service agents. Computers are only there to assist these agents on their job.

 

The best type of artificial intelligence is when nobody notices that it has been implemented. It simply works in the background to improve the quality of a call.