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AI and Automation
4 min read

Empathy in the age of automation: How AI is bridging the distance between agents and customers .

Jeanine Desirée Lund
Content Marketing Specialist
How AI is bridging the gap between agents and customers

Fifteen seconds. That’s how long contact centre managers have, to capture the attention of a customer before they become disengaged. This 15-second rule should not just apply to your website, it needs to be front of mind across all customer communication channels from social media, email, chatbot and phone calls.   

What is communicated by contact centre agents in this short time frame is critical; just a few sentences will likely determine whether the customer will have a positive experience or not. Customers have also come to expect agents to resolve issues immediately. On top of this, agents at some contact centres continue to have stringent performance metrics to meet such as handling a minimum number of calls per day.   

When speaking to agents, we found that they often find themselves between a rock and a hard place – wanting to meet customer expectations to deliver a great experience while also needing to meet strict key performance indicators (KPIs). Balancing both pressures can generate a huge stress for agents. In fact, 53% of contact centre agents report symptoms of stress, according to the Contact Centre Management Association.   

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. It can act as a helping hand for contact centre agents to alleviate the frustrations of their role and help in the delivery of a more empathetic customer experience.    

What is causing stress for agents? 

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that many customers reach out to a brand to just say all is well and the company is doing a great job. Instead, call centre agents encounter angry, upset or demanding customers regularly, and they need to navigate these interactions in a calm and professional manner. Not doing so can have a detrimental effect on both the reputation of the company and agent. It can also lead to a loss of sales or reduce customer loyalty.    

Agents must also resolve customer issues within a certain time frame. These tight deadlines can be stressful, especially if the customer is demanding and the issue is complex or if there is a high volume of enquiries.    

Call centre metrics and KPIs are essential to measure and improve the quality, efficiency, and customer interactions. However, setting overly demanding KPIs can impact an agent's confidence and wellbeing if they are unable to meet these targets. An excessive focus on KPIs can also lead to tunnel vision, where agents prioritise meeting targets over providing quality customer service.   

How can AI support agents and deliver an empathetic customer experience? 

  • Automating and managing workloads
    With a modern chatbot or AI-powered virtual assistant, agents can provide 24/7 support, reduce customer wait times and offer personalised responses. AI contact centres can easily scale to handle large call volumes and adapt to changing customer demands, ensuring seamless operations during peak times and unexpected events. This improves customer satisfaction and helps contact centre agents manage their workload.  
  • Provide an insight into customer sentiment
    Sentiment is a crucial contact centre metric that agents are measured on. AI can help provide a sentiment analysis which gives insights into the quality of conversations by detecting keywords and phrases. Through this analysis, agents can adapt their responses accordingly, enabling them to empathise with customers, defuse potentially negative situations, and ensure a positive customer experience.  
  • Reduce time-consuming recommendations 
    Conversational AI can provide contextual recommendations for personalised customer experiences. These recommendations can range from suggesting relevant knowledgebase articles, providing pre-written responses, or even triggering specific workflows to address customer requests efficiently.  

    This can lead to agents saving time on manually sifting through large swathes of information and customers feeling satisfied with the timely response they receive.    
  • Overcoming language barriers
    For companies that have customers in multiple countries, AI can be used to support agents in translating and responding to incoming inquiries in different languages. An example of this is a Puzzel customer in the travel industry that needed to convert more than 1000 articles to three different languages for chatbot conversations. Manual execution would have led to a significant investment of time and effort for their team. By leveraging AI, the organisation was able to cut time and cost in all required languages.   

AI has the potential to revolutionise the contact centre industry. Our research on The State of Contact Centres in 2024 found that 41% of European customer service leaders believe AI and machine learning will have the biggest impact on the customer service industry within the next two years. Specifically, in the next 12 months, they believe that the top three ways in which AI will improve customer service include operational efficiency, improved accuracy and reliability and tailoring customer interactions.   

At Puzzel, we know that by automating repetitive tasks, providing insights and recommendations, and suggesting solutions, AI can help agents to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. This can lead to reduced stress for agents and a more empathetic experience for customers.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how Puzzel can help you, contact us here to book your free demo.  

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