Manage High Call Volume During Covid 19 Using Call Deflection & Ai

Manage High Call Volume During COVID-19 Using Call Deflection & AI

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the unique challenges it has posed, has engulfed customers in a wave of fear and uncertainty and put organizations in a jiffy.

There has been a sharp spike in the volume of calls as anxious customers seek support on a variety of issues.

A majority of customers consider call support as a flexible channel of communication as it allows them to verbally explain and negotiate with the agents. Moreover, customers prefer calling for urgent matters, including cancelled flights and refunds, health insurance coverage, timings of convenience stories, appointments for COVID-19 tests, loan approvals, and much more.

Particularly, contact centers in industries like banking, airlines, retail, and healthcare have been experiencing a nightmare with the unprecedented surge in call volumes.

Organizations are facing a myriad of challenges, such as -

  • Contact centers are ill-equipped to deal with the huge increase in the volume of incoming customer calls and chats, which has burdened their systems, their agents, and their ability to respond and deflect calls from the queues.
  • The Washington State Department of Health’s coronavirus hotline experienced an average wait-time of 10 minutes with calls dropping 20 minutes after the customers were put on-hold;
  • Due to the inherent tendency to use call support in times of crises, customers are abandoning self-service channels and instead directly calling and requesting agent support.
  • A lot of questions and requests are repetitive and basic
  • Voice-based channels are not only expensive but also difficult to scale
  • There has been a shortage of staff as support agents fall sick and are unable to continue work.
  • Many US airlines have requested their customers who do not have flights within the next 72 hours to wait until closer to their trip before calling up the contact center;
  • Adding more agents is not only expensive; but also not feasible at a short notice.

Reducing Call Volume With Call Deflection and AI-Enabled Virtual Assistance

To deal with the above issues and reduce contact center call volume, organizations can use a call deflection approach driven by AI chatbots. Call deflection involves diverting incoming customer calls to alternate means of answering questions like self-service and digital channels e.g. chatbots.

AI Chatbots can handle an unlimited number of requests at the same time, provide instant support, and decrease costs for the organization as lesser employees are needed to handle customer queries. Moreover, they can answer routine customer questions 24×7, without the need for human support.

A combination of call-deflection and AI-enabled virtual assistance can improve the productivity of contact center agents, while simultaneously managing the surge in the volume of calls.

Irrespective of whether your IVR is based on legacy technology or deployed on the cloud, it is possible to shift the incoming call traffic to a text-based channel.

When the customer is ready to engage via text, the virtual assistant can converse with the client using natural language processing to handle simple requests, such as leading the customers to the required information. Or it can enable them to self-transact. Or it can be an extensive bot that offers complex capabilities, like drawing up the required background information to provide personalized solutions to customer queries.

The purpose of deflecting incoming calls is that a bot can handle customer requests that are basic and repetitive, and thereby it eliminates the need for agent involvement. The request will be transferred to an agent only when a customer specifically requests the transfer or the bot determines the conversation is too complex for it to handle.

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The 2 Types of Call Deflection

Proactive and reactive call deflection are the two ways of diverting calls to text-based channels –

  • Proactive call deflection

Proactive call deflection is an approach in which measures are taken to prevent customers from calling to the contact centres in the first place and instead drive them to proactively use self-service digital channels. This involves:

  1. Setting expectations and keeping customers informed about service hours, availability of certain services and the possible alternatives.
  2. Driving awareness about self-service messaging channels and creating opportunities for customers to adopt them.

Proactive deflection, when supplemented with automation, allows customers to  engage in a two-way interaction with a chatbot to resolve issues without waiting for agents. Thus, customers can operate in a self-serve mode for routine queries, and be directed to human agents only for more complex ones.

  • Reactive call deflection

A reactive approach to call deflection starts once customers call the contact center. On calling the contact center, the customers should be allowed to select the channel of their choice.

Customers may then opt to resolve their issue in a self-serve mode, with the help of AI-enabled chatbots enabled in messaging channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc.  

An alternate way of doing this is using Conversation IVR systems which leverage Natural Language Processing to interact with customers via voice and resolve their queries.

Steps involved in Reactive Call Deflection Supported by AI chatbots

  1. Deflection – Customers call the contact center. When faced with long queues, they opt to divert their queries to a virtual assistant channel. Once the call ends, customers get a link to open a virtual agent and continue their conversation.
  2. Automation – The customer opens the chatbot on his/her device. The virtual assistant can answer FAQs or carry out simple tasks. If faced with a more complex query, the bot captures customer information and/or schedules call-backs before forwarding the request to a human agent or offline processing.
  3. Integration – The virtual agent should integrate with any existing live chat platform to allow escalation to a human agent, when the VA can’t handle the request.

Benefits of Call Deflection supported by AI

A study by Gartner indicates that, “As much as 40% of today’s live volume could be resolved in self-service channels.” Here are some benefits of using call deflection supported by AI.

  • Improved agent productivity
  • A self-service fix costs 80-100 times less than a live interaction
  • Chatbots can provide instant assistance to customers even beyond the working hours
  • They can handle unlimited requests at the same time
  • A chatbot can work in close tandem with live agents to handle complex queries;
  • Call deflection and AI reduce the incoming call traffic, leading to shorter wait-times. This avoids customer frustration;
  • Improved CSAT and customer experience at lowered costs

Get Started

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented increase in the number of customer calls to contact centers. To ease the burden off support agents, organizations can implement a combination of call deflection (proactive or reactive) and AI-enabled chatbots.

Such automation enables customers to self-serve and provides them with a 24X7 interactive experience at significantly lower costs. It also allows the support staff to focus on the complex queries, leaving the chatbots to handle routine asks.

We, at Acuvate Software, are helping clients deliver superior customer experiences through our intuitive, no-code bot-builder platform called BotCore.

BotCore presents several benefits –

  • The intuitive, no-code interface allows the quick implementation of AI chatbots
  • It can seamlessly integrate with existing legacy systems and AI services
  • It also allows the connection of existing bots across different departments
  • It is deployable on both on-site and cloud environments
  • Chatbots can be designed to simulate highly complex conversations

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our experts for a personalized consultation.