In today’s fast-paced, digital-first world, customer needs and expectations continue to rise, raising the demand for customer contact centers all over the globe.
In Europe, particularly, the change in customer demographics and the growing popularity of e-commerce has led to increasing pressure on contact centers for customer support. Here, companies, small, medium, and large, believe in focusing on their core operations; hence, Europe is one of the biggest markets that is outsourcing contact center operations.
The call center outsourcing market share in Europe is expected to increase by USD 3.73 billion from 2021 to 2026, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a CAGR of 3.53%. The retail, IT, and telecom sectors will be the most significant drivers of contact center outsourcing in Europe from 2022-2024.
High agent volume and the need for diversity, scalability, and multilingual capabilities are the most significant reasons why most European enterprises are turning to automation and AI to scale their contact center operations.
That’s where intelligent virtual assistants, including chat and voice bots, come into the picture. Virtual assistants, also known as virtual agents, use intelligent conversational interfaces powered by AI, machine learning, and natural language processing technologies to understand and respond to customer inquiries in a human-like manner.
Let’s know the five ways virtual assistants are well-placed to support European contact centers.
European companies prefer to focus on their core revenue-generating activities and prefer to outsource their contact center operations. However, they mostly outsource to nearby regions and time zones to account for language and cultural similarities.
This strategy suffers from a major drawback. Rapidly changing customer demographics have necessitated quick, 24X7 customer support. Thus, organizations may want to set up contact centers in distant countries to cover customer support beyond their usual business hours, demanding additional resources in terms of staffing and equipment.
AI-powered customer support chatbots transcend locational boundaries, especially in a continent like Europe that has multiple time zones, and provide instant answers to all customer queries at all times.
Customers in different parts of Europe prefer different ways and channels of contacting contact center support. For example, the Netherlands has the highest number of non-telephone channel users, with email and web chat being the most popular.
On the flip side, people in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden prefer social media and web chat over email. The bottom line is that people prefer to communicate with brands on the channel of their choice and may even want to switch channels in the middle of an ongoing support case.
That’s where omnichannel chatbots play a crucial role. Virtual assistants can offer omnichannel experiences so customers can experience consistent and personalized brand engagement on their preferred channels. Moreover, customers can seamlessly transition from one channel to another without losing the context of the original conversation.
In a continent like Europe, where people speak multiple languages, it is challenging to personalize customer support for the entire customer base. After all, customers prefer being engaged in their native language. Moreover, it makes them feel comfortable, valued and heard.
Hiring contact center agents who speak multiple languages or training existing ones to speak in different tongues is costly in terms of time and money. That’s where virtual assistants play a crucial role.
AI virtual assistants support contact centers by detecting the user’s language and switching the conversation flow to the native tongue. What’s more, the customer support chatbot can remember the customer’s language preferences and then reach out to them in the same language in case of a proactive outbound engagement.
In recent times, Europe has seen steady growth in using self-service solutions like websites, social networking channels (Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Telegram, whatsapp etc.), and IVR. These are easily accessible and take a considerable load off contact centers. To work productively and provide seamless, more meaningful customer engagement, organizations in Europe are embedding customer support bots on these channels.
70% of contact center agents say there are fewer calls when chatbots are available. Customer support bots and virtual assistants can shorten waiting times and collect relevant customer data before the call is passed on to the human agent. In cases where the requests are simple and repetitive, virtual assistants can solve them faster than the contact center agent.
Voice bot platforms have paved the way for conversational IVR in contact centers. Voice bots embedded within traditional IVR systems leverage natural language processing and speech recognition technologies to respond to users’ verbal commands using voice or text, enabling faster, more accessible, and more interactive user support.
Moreover, predictive data analytics maps out the entire customer journey to personalize interactions, reduce mean time to resolve (MTTR), and increase overall customer satisfaction (CSAT).
Using virtual assistants — chat and voice bots, leads to major cost reductions for all enterprises.
For starters, outsourced customer service agents cost as much as €22,200 per agent annually in countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Even for employees hired in Central and Eastern Europe, where contact center jobs are amongst the better-paid ones, the cost of hiring a contact center agent can come out to be around €6,436 per year.
In short, hiring more contact center agents will always prove heavier on the organization’s pockets. On the other hand, intelligent virtual assistants can solve thousands of problems at a few pennies per transaction, making them highly viable, almost a mandate for countries in Europe where labor costs are very high.
Acuvate helps clients build and deploy virtual assistants – customer support & engagement chatbots and voice bots with its enterprise bot-building platform, BotCore.
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have the opportunity of leveraging the best of Microsoft’s AI, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) frameworks, including the Microsoft Bot Framework, Azure Cognitive Services, and LUIS.
Besides supporting languages like German, French, English, Latin, and many more (multilingual functionality), our bots work on popular enterprise channels (Teams, Slack, ProofHub, etc.) and social channels (Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Telegram, whatsapp etc.), thus helping organizations engage a geographically-dispersed workforce and customer base.
To know more about our bots and virtual assistants, please schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.