Contact center employees are much maligned and rarely receive much sympathy. However, we should spare a thought for those on the end of the phone/chat window who have helped many of us through a difficult last few months.

Agents are having to talk to customers who are often in very difficult circumstances brought on by the crisis. There are numerous anecdotal reports of agents having to deal with customers who are in heightened emotional stress – often due to financial hardship caused by Covid-19.

Furthermore, many of these agents are working from home for the first time, quite possibly in a stressful environment (e.g., kids who aren’t at school), and certainly without the usual in-person support mechanisms of managers/supervisors and numerous colleagues in close proximity. They are also having to deal with the connectivity and technology challenges of being a remote contact center agent.

Technology can help contact center agents and customers

For the agent directly technology can help by keeping teams of agents connected with each other and their supervisors through collaboration platforms (e.g., Zoom or Microsoft Teams). Remote management tools can also keep supervisors in contact with agents and allow agents to monitor calls and step in if necessary.

However, these concerns are more short-term, as although a higher percentage of agents will work more regularly from home, most will go back to the contact center.

AI can deliver a more empathetic service

AI in an omnichannel environment can help agents to understand why a customer is calling in ahead of any conversation, and also help the agent to understand any previous contact the customer may have had with the business.

Whether at home or in the contact center, AI can help agents deliver more empathetic service. AI in an omnichannel environment can help agents to understand why a customer is calling in ahead of any conversation, and also help the agent to understand any previous contact the customer may have had with the business.

AI tools can also suggest likely remedies based on previous experience. In fact, AI is often capable of identifying the true cause of problems, and/or solutions that may not have been otherwise considered.

AI can also read the tone of our voices and patterns of speech. The phrase “I want to speak to your supervisor!” is an obvious example – and one that would indeed alert the supervisor.

However, AI can detect more subtle cues and alert supervisors to listen in before a call escalates into a bad experience. This offers an enhanced experience for the customer and potential protection for a beleaguered agent.

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