Just recently, I called my cell phone provider for resolving a data connectivity problem. I had already called thrice in the past one week but to no avail. Every time I could tell from the agent’s voice and accent that it was a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) center in India or Philippines, answering my call. After navigating through an IVR for almost 5 minutes, I finally connected with a human agent. This time the BPO agent said, “Sorry for the inconvenience, but I need to reconnect you to our technical team”. I was furious. My problem was still not resolved.
This conversation brings to the fore some pertinent problems plaguing the BPO industry. Highly demanding clients, overworked employees, tighter budgets, broken processes, lack of automation and scant understanding of customer problems—make BPOs ripe for disruption.
Today the US$350 billion customer service industry is being upended by tectonic shifts in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automation and Analytics. There will be casualties along the way and the ultimate winners will be the ones that embrace change and reinvent themselves. The BPO industry is no exception. It is time the BPO industry assesses the business impact of these tectonic shifts and prepares for the future. Here are a few of the disruptions already underway in the BPO business.
1. IVR gets a shot in the arm with AI-based Voice Bots
IVRs are so yesteryear technology. Today it is all about intelligent AI-powered Voice Bots and Chatbots. Conversational Assistants or Voice Bots have matured enough to be the first point of contact with a customer. They are especially suited for answering FAQs, resolving simpler customer issues, understanding when it is time to handover to a live agent, thus helping to simplify the job of a BPO agent. Voice biometrics can create a secure voice map to authenticate customers effortlessly and swiftly.
2. AI to take Voice Analytics to the next level
Conversational Analytics technology driven by Artificial Intelligence can now identify the customer’s real intent in real-time as customer-agent conversation is progressing and offer suitable alerts to the agent. You can now monitor 100% of the calls, derive actionable insights, improve agent performance, highlight key areas of concern, confirm quality assurance goals are met and get a holistic feedback on the entire BPO’s customer service metrics. You can derive unprecedented insights that are immediately actionable. BPO’s can translate the realized improvement in customer service to tangible business value for their enterprise clients.
3. Focus is on quality enhancement and performance management
Agent quality enhancement and performance management are key areas of interest for any BPO. BPOs need to constantly improve the Contact Center efficiency, train the agents with domain knowledge, analyze call disposition across multiple tags and increase first call resolution. Conversational AI can improve the quality of customer-agent conversations by analyzing it in real-time, sending alerts to agents and offering real-time coaching. The agent performance can be continuously monitored, and the right feedback can be given to the agents to improve the overall quality of the voice interactions with customers.
4. Conversational AI to enable Front Office Automation
Today, BPOs are struggling with manual operations in the front office, agent fatigue and high employee churn, all of which have a direct impact on customer service. AI powered Conversational Service Automation is an emerging category of solutions that is automating the front office and bridging the gap with back office RPA solutions. Conversational Service Automation is about enabling front office automation in Contact Centers. The solution should facilitate real time listening of conversations across channels and then convert them into automated real time actions using an AI enabled intelligent platform that is continuously self-learning. This reduces the work pressure on BPO agents, improves information dispensation, provides data points for real-time decision-making and automates call summarization and call disposition, leaving the agents to work on more valuable tasks.
The author is Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder and APAC President, Uniphore