The gift of time
Yesterday, the light on my Wi-Fi router started blinking an ominous yellow and I lost internet connectivity. From my phone, I went to the company’s online self-service portal, but couldn’t find a solution that got me back online. When I called, the automated attendant warned me that it would be over an hour to speak with an agent. On chat, I was 146th in line.
I understand. The pandemic and the great resignation have left contact centers and the whole service industry short-handed. I am one of the people who is grateful to those who continue to show up. Corrine, the agent I eventually connected with, was kind and skillfully restored my service. My contact center experience took an hour and forty-five minutes.
In today’s fast-paced and virtual meeting-packed world, our days are busy. None of us have an extra two hours to resolve a service issue – and I can’t see how that will change in the near term. Likewise, we are two years into the pandemic and hold times in contact centers are still running long. Companies simply cannot cost-effectively hire the number of employees required to deliver timely service. But there are ways that companies and their customers can take back their time.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen tremendous advances in automated customer service. Messaging channels like chat, iMessage, and WhatsApp let us connect with companies on our mobile devices. They even let us start a conversation, step away to take a meeting, then pick it up again later, when it’s best for us. Not only that, but artificial intelligence (AI) also lets us self-serve on those channels via intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs), aka smart chatbots. In many cases, these capabilities deliver effective (and fast!) customer service.
Today, AI is also helping contact center agents themselves support customers more efficiency.
Today, AI is also helping contact center agents themselves support customers more efficiently. Operating as helpful co-pilots, voice and messaging AI solutions listen to calls or read chats in real time and perform tasks for agents, like filling in forms, directing them through workflows and screens, and finding them important information. These AI-powered co-pilots enable agents to serve customers faster and move to the next in line sooner.
Additionally, the most data-driven companies I know have started using AI to proactively identify and resolve issues before their customers experience a service interruption, often eliminating the need for contacts altogether.
The most data-driven companies I know have started using AI to proactively identify and resolve issues before their customers experience a service interruption.
Since adopting Pega’s workflow automation and AI-powered platform, our own clients have seen the benefits of these results:
- Insurance company VIVAT has had an 80% reduction in average handle time and a 12% increase in customer satisfaction.
- Healthcare insurer Anthem (Now Elevance Health) has seen a 100-second decrease in average handle time and an 11-point increase in customer satisfaction.
- First Tech Credit Union’s time spent by agents handling calls has fallen by 40%.
For companies, the time they save can be turned into cost savings, reinvested into even better customer experiences or redirected to revenue generating activities that yield higher quality interactions, deeper loyalty, and improved customer satisfaction scores. Some companies further use their data-driven AI to bring new products and services to their customers’ attention, showing features that might be of interest to them. For Pega client Commonwealth Bank, this has led to a threefold increase in the bank’s offer conversion rate.
For customers like me, though, the recovery of time that would have otherwise been spent resolving service inquiries is the greatest gift of all. Companies that proactively address my issues save me from contacting them, while companies that offer AI-powered self-service provide me convenience while saving me time. Ultimately, companies that support their agents with AI-powered co-pilots provide me with a more efficient service experience and save me from waiting on hold for my call to be answered.