Need More Capacity? Call Center Outsourcers Aren’t the Only Answer Anymore
When call centers needed more capacity to deal with fluctuations in contact volume, they used to have only two choices: work with a call center outsourcer, or hire more agents.
But with advances in email process automation, that’s no longer the case. Smart email automation tools have become a viable alternative to customer service outsourcing.
What is email process automation?
The notion of automating a process is certainly not new – in fact, mankind has been automating tasks for thousands of years (and probably longer). Process automation has a history that spans from the ancient Mayans building aqueducts to automate the transportation of water, to Henry Ford automating the mechanical assembly line in the early 20th century, to the new AI-based automation that’s becoming prevalent today.
Intelligent automation – automation that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) – is now widespread. An IBM study found that 90% of C-level executives report there is already some level of intelligent automation at work in their organizations.
What does this evolution of process automation mean for the customer service email channel?
It means that when customers email a company with a question or issue, they can now receive a real answer, instead of a generic autoresponder confirming their message was received.
In the example below, the email on the left shows the type of email we’ve all received before: a generic confirmation message in response to submitting a contact form or sending an email to a company. The email on the right, however, shows a response generated by intelligent automation: one that provides a real resolution and is similar to what a human contact center agent would have written.
How does email process automation work?
At Astute, we offer intelligent email automation using an Email Virtual Assistant (EVA for short). When EVA is enabled, contact centers can automate significant portions of their inbound email processing, instead of being forced to rely on a call center outsourcer when agents have maxed out their bandwidth.
Here’s how EVA works:
- Reads incoming customer emails using natural language processing
- Interprets the issues and codes the case
- Generates a response using machine learning from how your agents have replied to similar messages in the past
- Calculates and attaches goodwill, if applicable
- Presents the finished email to the agent to QA and send, OR sends directly to the customer with no human intervention (if you so choose)
Automatically processing and creating a meaningful reply to a customer’s question or issue is a major step up from the generic autoresponder.
It also represents a massive efficiency gain. Instead of agents spending an average of five minutes processing a customer email (and many brands report this is usually more like 12 or 13 minutes), when EVA is doing all the “heavy lifting,” agents only have to review EVA’s work, edit if needed, and send – which takes one minute or less.
Using EVA, a major food brand has automated one-third of their monthly email volume. This has reduced their need to hire temporary or seasonal agents, or turn to a call center outsourcer to bridge the gap.
Automation vs. outsourcing call center services
Let’s be clear: this is no knock on business process outsourcers. At Astute, we partner with several leading BPOs and they provide a wonderful service. But email automation does present an attractive alternative for call centers that are over capacity. Besides, adding capacity via automation and working with a call center outsourcing company are not mutually exclusive.
That said, here are three advantages of automation compared to outsourced customer support:
1. Easy to onboard
Smart email automation, like Astute’s EVA, uses machine learning to understand how agents have previously replied to similar emails in the past in order to “learn” how to respond to an incoming email. This AI component means the tool becomes more accurate over time, and it never forgets what it has already learned.
Compared to onboarding agents from a call center outsourcing company, which takes time and training resources, EVA is trained in the background by absorbing and learning from the record of what your agents have already done. Once a short initial learning period is over, EVA can begin processing inbound emails very quickly.
2. Performance-based pricing
Astute’s EVA is priced based on performance, meaning you only pay for resolutions EVA handled accurately. For example, if EVA processes 1,000 incoming emails, and your agents end up correcting 25 of them, you’re only charged for the 975 cases that EVA handled correctly. Is your call center outsourcer offering you the same deal?
3. Flexes to meet demand
As contact volume fluctuates, it can be difficult to plan for the staff you’ll need to handle it. Especially in light of the topsy-turvy year 2020 has been, it can feel like trying to predict the unpredictable. How many agents will you need to handle the next big wave of email volume?
When you’re relying on email automation to handle the overflow, these worries disappear. You’re in control of when EVA is processing emails, whether you want agents to QA its replies, what types of cases you always want to go to an agent (such as adverse events), and so on. The technology puts you in the driver’s seat.
Call center outsourcing companies can use automation, too
Contact center outsourcing is a big business, and automation’s promise of higher efficiency can make a major impact here, as well.
All the same benefits above still apply to any call center, whether they are an outsourcer for another business or an in-house operation. To give companies some much-needed elasticity for whatever the future brings, EVA is a cost-effective and flexible option.
Ready to learn more about how EVA could revolutionize your call center processes? Schedule a live demo today.