We talk a lot within the contact center field about the power of AI to drive more self-service. What does this trend mean for the future? Smarter bots and more self-service through interactive voice response (IVR) won’t eliminate the need for live agents to handle interactions. But it will change the nature of the interactions the agents will be handling.
Agents are (and will be) needed to handle more escalated, complex issues—those issues that cannot be easily resolved by the customer on their own through AI assistance. Intelligent escalation from a bot or IVR service to a live agent has implications for how we think about agent hiring, training, workforce management, and much more.
When it comes to resolving our customers’ most complex issues across all voice and digital channels, standard scripting will certainly not always apply. We need to flip the script on how we think about addressing them.
Understanding Intelligent Escalation Triggers
First, let’s look at some of the indicators that will trigger intelligent escalation. Forrester provides a good summary of indicators that should potentially route a customer from a bot (aka virtual agent) or IVR system to a live agent. They occur when a customer…
· Asks to chat with a live agent or requests to talk to a live agent via IVR
· Has repeatedly asked the same or similar question multiple times
· Asks a question deemed ‘too complicated’ by your AI-powered virtual agent or IVR system
· Uses language that the IVR system or bot recognizes as frustrated or distressed
· Has previously indicated dissatisfaction with a resolution in a customer satisfaction survey
· Mentions they may complain publicly on another channel (e.g., mentioning the word "Facebook" or “Twitter)
· Falls into a VIP category within your integrated CRM system
· Indicates a business or purchase activity (e.g., "I want to upgrade to a more expensive service”)
Facilitating a Seamless Transition
The use of a contact center platform that enables seamless transitions across customers’ communication channels of choice is key to great CX. Any effective contact center platform can track a single customer’s journey and identify that person’s interactions across channels.
But what can our live agents do to support the customer’s seamless transition across channels—especially when that customer transitions from chatbot or IVR to a live agent through intelligent escalation?
First, live agents must recognize the capability of AI to identify and track an individual. And the live agent must understand, through training and experience, how to scan the information they receive from the bot or IVR system when a customer is escalated to them.
When the individual is escalated to the live agent, the agent should not have to ask a customer to repeat his or her account number. The live agent should not have to ask a customer to identify themselves through certain personally identifying information (PII) or similar. This drives customers crazy. And well it should!
A live agent should promote proactive customer service if a customer is transitioned to them from bots or IVR. The less background information a customer needs to give, the better.
Communication Tips for Live Agents
Once a seamless transition has been made using the tactics mentioned above, any live agent across service, sales, or support units can use the following communication tips. These aren’t your standard script tips!
Because every organization handles issues unique to their own product or service offerings, we’ve identified interesting communication tips that pretty much any live agent (or contact center team as a whole) can use, no matter how complex the interaction type:
· Understand what constitutes plain language—and make use of it at all times.
· Analyze the voice of the customer in the feedback provided through customer satisfaction surveys, IVR systems, etc. Understand the language customers use in expressing their wants and preferences—and reflect it back to them when communicating to reach faster resolutions.
· Align agent skills with customer issue complexity through predictive behavioral routing. Agents best suited for the particular interaction can more quickly resolve the issue.
Intelligent escalation from bots or IVR across channels to a live agent does not have to be complicated. In fact, NICE inContact’s cloud contact center platform makes it easy! To learn more, check out our latest video on seamless omnichannel customer experience.