Attended AI is the future of customer service. Here’s what that means

Companies have tried for decades to get customer service right. For years, brands naively believed that moving customer service functions to apps and chatbots — by which routine issues ranging from password changes to package tracking could be resolved quickly — was an inexpensive solution for addressing the lion’s share of customer service woes.

As it turns out, customers experience enough thorny issues to necessitate keeping a stable of contact center agents. Apps and chatbots can only handle simple tasks, which is not particularly useful if a customer is angry or has a complicated problem. There are even some who claim bots are downright bad for customer service.

Nonetheless, widespread dissatisfaction with customer service endures, and industry workers are experiencing significant burnout. A 2021 study by Digital Information World found that up to three-quarters of customers are generally dissatisfied with customer service. So how can brands change the status quo? The advent of attended AI — also known as attended bots — offers one such opportunity.

Attended AI lives on a desktop and streamlines work by acting as a real-time co-pilot for customer service. Powered by real-time intelligence, attended AI provides the toolkit and resources to reach consistent, on-brand resolutions, while also enhancing a brand’s customer experience. It eliminates many of the challenges customers and agents face, and offers the possibility of completely reinventing customer service for the better.

Here are four things brands can expect as this technology becomes commonplace in the call center:

1. SERVICE WILL IMPROVE

Great customer service starts with great agents. However, it is extremely difficult for agents to provide a meaningful human connection when they are busy with repetitive tasks or looking up an address or customer ID. It’s why customers end up on hold — or worse, transferred to another department where they need to repeat everything they said earlier in the call.

Attended AI can help agents track down vital information (oftentimes before they know they need it); automate repetitive, low-value tasks; and guide agents through workflows and various tools a brand uses for customer care. When agents can spend quality time on a client’s needs, customer service is completely transformed. The quality of experience is better, and the resolution is usually one that benefits both the customer and the brand.

2. CHURN WILL DECREASE WHEN CALL CENTER AGENTS ARE HAPPIER

Call center jobs are some of the toughest out there, and depression and burnout are common. In a Cornell University study, 88% of call center workers reported high stress, and nearly half said they suffered sleep problems or were prescribed medication for stress and anxiety. Even fully remote customer care agents report that they often do not get the help or support they need.

Attended AI offers a real possibility of happier, more productive agents and, in turn, a stable call center workforce. It can assist agents on each call, review their work in real time, and coach them to the ideal outcome for every customer interaction they have. Customer care agents can learn everything they need to know about a customer within seconds, even if data lives across multiple technology platforms. This gives agents the ability to understand and help customers better.

Agents with access to correct real-time information and tools can perform their jobs more confidently, and their workday can focus on providing expert care and guidance for customers. More effective technology means happier agents.

3. NEW EMPLOYEES RAMP UP QUICKLY

It’s a perennial challenge in call centers to train agents and bring them up to speed quickly so they can start contributing in a meaningful way.

Attended AI helps decrease the time needed to train agents to full proficiency by guiding them when they need help and automating functions that previously required weeks of training. Attended AI does not just suggest the next best steps; it can perform them for an agent, creating a consistent customer experience.

Agents who have a co-pilot powered by AI need less time to learn how to do their jobs well because they have a built-in coach right there on their computer. They can devote more of their attention to providing empathetic service and less to juggling systems or recalling procedures. Agents will not sound lost or confused, and customers will not lose their patience.

4. BETTER PERFORMANCE AND OUTCOMES IMPROVE KPIs AND ROI

Ultimately, happier customers and agents translate to better metrics. Attended AI delivers immediate ROI by improving the real drivers of contact center performance like productivity and call quality. The end result is that brands can both solve problems and reduce costs while dramatically improving customer satisfaction, experience, and NPS (Net Promoter Score).

We’ve looked at call centers the wrong way for decades. We’ve expected technology to provide all of the answers while giving humans a smaller role. Ultimately, what’s needed is the right tool, one that handles once-onerous tasks and allows people to offer the best of their humanity: an empathetic ear, a friendly recommendation on an order, or the right answer to a customer’s question. Attended AI is a new technology that will succeed because of what it does best: give time and focus back to humans. After all, humans are the backbone of any successful company.


Jeff Fettes is the founder and CEO of Laivly.

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