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Customer Support
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The Hyro Team

5 Reasons Conversational AI is a Live Agent’s Best Friend in 2021

Conversational AI has transformed the way businesses communicate with their customers. From healthcare through to government and real estate, customer service leaders utilizing live support centers are singing the praises of AI chatbots that have emerged from a marketing trend into the mainstream for engagement, conversions, and sales. But what does this conversational AI boom mean for frontline customer support staff? Is conversational AI a friend or foe? 

Why the concern?

AI customer service adoption is on the rise. A growing number of conversational AI companies have entered the provider landscape, developing increasingly advanced and more mature systems. The 2019 Chatbot Report predicted that 2019 would present significant upgrades to chatbots hot on the heels of the ubiquitous use of AI; some of these features, which came to fruition as projected, include intelligent detection of user requests, natural speech recognition by voice assistants, and even more "smart" swapping from conversational AI to human agents. 

According to Oracle, 80% of sales and marketing leaders say they use conversational AI in their customer experience (CX) or had planned to do so by the end of 2020. Markets and Markets expects the global conversational AI market to grow in size from $4.2 billion in 2020 up to $13.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 21.9%. Chatbots Life states that the top five industries profiting from the integration of AI chatbots are real estate (28%), travel (16%), education (14%), healthcare (10%), and finance (5%). 

Source: Markets and Markets

Call center employees are suspicious and fearful that they will lose their jobs to virtual assistants. How can they compete with the above figures, the user benefits of chatbots like instant response time and increased conversions and sales, the attraction of cost-cutting for their employees, and the reality that companies across all verticals have no intention of missing ‘the chatbot train’ to remain competitive and consumer-facing? 

Watch below as a conversational AI voice assistant helps a patient with FAQs regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and proceeds to schedule a vaccination appointment for the patient with zero human intervention. 

Friend, not foe – 5 reasons why 

Yes, there's an understandable reason for live support agents to be anxious about conversational AI. At its apex, conversational AI can potentially replace live support centers altogether - filling agents' roles as voice assistants taking calls and handling customer queries or as virtual assistants deployed on a company's website, guiding users through their customer journey, and easing pain-points along the way. But, in truth, conversational AI is a force multiplier for live agents. It is a tool designed to reinforce them by making their lives much easier. 

Here are five key reasons why conversational AI is a live agent's best friend:

  1. Conversational AI can handle repetitive, frequently exasperating questions freeing up live agents from menial and monotonous tasks. These tasks are a prime cause of burnout and endemic in live support centers. A complimentary conversational AI assistant is also beneficial in reducing the pressure on overloaded support centers. Why are support centers so overloaded? Since the market has pushed businesses to implement a customer-obsessed approach, call center agents bear the brunt of 24/7-service expectations involving taxing, inflexible, and often overextend working hours.

  1. Not having to deal with tedious tasks allows live agents to solve more challenging issues that customers encounter. Besides increasing morale, this enables them to feel more valuable to the organization, apply their training and knowledge to become real experts, and upskill themselves. The power of independent thought and creative problem-solving skills is something that chatbots cannot replace, which enhances rather than threatens live agents’ role in a company.

  1. Conversational AI is instrumental in supporting and bolstering customer support. However, when necessary, user interactions can be handed off to a live representative. This bi-directional solution ensures that customer needs are met both for FAQs and the like and for queries and assistance that demands more human nuance. 

  1. Conversational AI, especially Hyro's, ingests a limitless amount of information. Often live agents use deployed Hyro conversational AI assistants to help them answer questions. This is crucial for new employees who are often poorly trained, given the notoriously high turnover rates at support centers.  F. Curtis Barry & Company found that employee turnover in most live support centers is disturbingly steep, ranging anywhere from 25% and higher, with many reaching 40-50%. In some severe cases, turnover can be 90-100%. According to estimates by The Center for American Progress, the tally of replacing a frontline employee is about 20% of an annual salary. For a 50-person strong call center team, this could mean over $100,000 annually in lay offs. 

  1. Virtual assistants can be viewed as a live agent's "rescue remedy" resource to fill-in potentially embarrassing knowledge gaps. For example, healthcare call center operators are unlikely to understand the thousands of medical terms out there - after all, they aren't medically trained practitioners. Similarly, a government, financial, or banking call center operator may not have all the answers. 

Key Takeaway

Conversational AI is a live agent’s best friend. AI chatbots and virtual assistants fill knowledge gaps and free up live agents, making them happier, less bored, less stressed, and feeling valuable and irreplaceable as team members. If they are less inclined to leave, companies, on the other hand, save the costs of repeatedly recruiting and training new employees begetting a win-win situation for all.

More on this topic from Hyro:

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The Hyro Team
February 4, 2021
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