One of the most illuminating sessions at Resolve 2022 came from Replicant customer ECSI. ECSI, a leading global payments company, has taken an innovative approach to their contact center. After the pandemic forced agents to work from home and led to impossible to overcome hiring challenges, ECSI partnered with Replicant to deploy Contact Center Automation.
By using the Thinking Machine™️ to resolve tier 1 requests, their organization has seen incredible results across average handle times, agent call volumes, containment rates and more. But getting there was a learning experience. Mike Bowman, Senior Director, Operations, shared with attendees some of the strategies that drove success and ultimately value throughout their automation implementation.
Before getting started, a few core boxes should be checked:
- You’ve defined success and what you want to achieve
- You’ve confirmed automation makes sense for your specific business needs
- You’ve completed a cost analysis (our handy ROI calculator is a good starting point)
- You understand what type of AI to use
Tip #1: Do Your Research
CX leaders trying to get educated on AI will undoubtedly run into a lot of bold claims. The buzz around AI requires those in the consideration phase to cut through the noise. An effective way to do this is to go directly to other businesses already using automation to get their honest feedback. “By far, for us, talking to people who are actually involved in AI is invaluable to determine what’s fact or fiction,” Bowman said.
Tip #2: Start Small
Identify low hanging fruit in your processes. Small-scale processes like authenticating a customer are great candidates to test automation without making a large investment. These seconds not only turn into dollars saved, they help businesses learn about the potential of automation.
Tip #3: Get Started Now
AI is evolving fast. For CX leaders, determining what’s possible and what’s not is a big step in harnessing the power of automation. Getting started early is the only way to quickly learn the applications of AI in your business. In addition, automation is accelerating the pace of business faster than anything we have ever seen. If you are not using it and your competitor is, you run the risk of falling behind.
Tip #4: Understand Your Business Like a SME and a Customer
An automation deployment is a prime opportunity to get even smarter on your own organizaiton. A thorough business review should bring in SMEs from several departments in order to design a solution that provides the most value. In ECSI’s case, getting the feedback of high performing agents helped them get back what felt like 20 via a well designed Thinking Machine™️.
Tip #5: Engage Your Employees
Educate, don’t eliminate, your workforce. For most agents, AI can seem like a competitor. It’s important to include stakeholders in the process like employees, executives, and clients, from the start. Strategies like focus groups and feedback sessions can help educate employees on what’s in it for them. For example a future without hundreds of password reset requests a day opens up opportunities for agents to reimagine what they’d like to focus on more.
Tip #6: Staff Appropriately
The challenges around finding employees don’t appear to be going anywhere soon. For contact centers looking to bring on staff to oversee new technologies, it can be helpful to look internally and invest in the education of their star performers instead of hiring externally. Close collaboration with an automation partner can also help staff learn new strategies in real-time.
Tip #7: Capitalize On The Brains & The Brawn of Contact Center Automation
Contact Center Automation works relentlessly. It moves fast, makes very few mistakes and never misses a call. “It’s that great,” said Bowman. But on the other side is the brains – analytics. With automation, contact centers gain efficient insights into problems, issues that aren’t getting fixed, or flows that are broken across your customer experience. This saves hours of manual and anecdotal work while making it easy to improve scripts and augment CX.
The Impact of Automation
Using these tips and strategies, ECSI deployed and scaled the Thinking Machine™️ to handle calls across three of their most common requests within a year. After looking at their contact center as a whole during their busiest season year over year, the results spoke for themselves. ECSI’s average speed of answer was 6x faster in summer 2022 than the year prior, despite an increase in total volume.
Meanwhile, all-in costs in total technology and labor cost decreased by nearly 14%. The Thinking Machine™️ contained 25% of total inbound calls and shortened 65% of calls while providing additional business intelligence. Today, ECSI no longer has to hire seasonal staff while they’re able to upskill their service staff for analyst, CX, and paraprofessional positions.