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Automation of Call Centres

19 April 2021 FICO

Is the phone call dead? Will omnichannel and AI technologies take the lead in customer engagements? Are successful companies the ones that meet communicate with their customers in their preferred channel to solve their issues?

In the past 12 months, the world has changed in unexpected ways. Banks and other global organisations have been severely impacted by the COVID pandemic and as a result call centres have been reshaped. We are seeing the automation of call centres.

Staff were asked to perform their duties remotely and companies had to quickly scale to handle the increase in inbound volumes as customers needed assistance due to the pandemic.

The fact is, call centres are fast being repositioned as contact centres. Consider the momentum behind this trend from the following analysts.

• The cloud-based contact centre market is forecast to reach $24.11 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 25%. (Market Research Future, 2020)
• The adoption rate of cloud-based contact centres was 2.2% in 2008. As of 2017, 62% of organizations have moved to a cloud-hosted call centre software solutions. (Talkdesk)
• Cloud contact centres are 27% cheaper and experience 35% less downtime than their on-premises counterparts. (Talkdesk)

Call Centres vs. Contact Centres

The main difference between a call centre and a contact centre is the first being primarily focused on incoming and outgoing voice calls, whilst contact centres are perhaps more focussed on managing contact with customers from a digital perspective across multiple channels i.e., iSMS, iVoice/Chabots, iEmail, supported by customer data insights having the ability to see customer behaviours and transactions across different touch points.

When customer engagements are not complex, intelligent, machine-learning driven interactions can be utilised to handle requests such as password problems, statement requests, and address changes in the customers’ preferred channel.

This requires organisations to adopt more forward-thinking strategies and disciplines. We can expect contact centres to continue to evolve into more comprehensive, digital-first customer experience centres of excellence.

Contact Centres the key to a digital shift

Meet your customers where they are today. Consumer behaviours and patterns have shifted whether it is an increase in digital banking adoption or an increase in online shopping and meal delivery.

For example, online penetration in China increased by more than 10% between 2020 & 2021 and in Europe, e-commerce sales for some consumer products increased by over 80% in a single week during the pandemic.

Digital-led customer experiences will continue to grow even after COVID has been dealt with and to establish a strong competitor advantage, organisations will have to act swiftly and with strategic intent to innovate with their existing execution models across contact centres, customer portals and mobile apps.

Contact Centres Accelerate Digital Migration

Due to the constraints of being unable to reach a human being on the other end of a call centre during the early days of the pandemic, digital engagements have become a necessity for most customers.

For example, in Asia Pacific, China-based Ping An Bank rolled out new “Do It At Home” campaign for its customers demonstrating the functionality available to them from its digital banking platform. The intent was to try and direct traffic away from its human call centre and allow customers to self-service for many simple requests. The idea worked and the site received more than 8 million page views and nearly 12 million transactions within two weeks.

Another example of maximising the use of contact centres in China during the pandemic was when several leading banks created online portals to explain the availability of internet banking and other services. These portals used simple video content to explain both banking and related activities such as help with online shopping to doctor appointments.

No doubt these strategies will stay intact post the pandemic. It’s likely that many customers who have converted to digital services will stick to them, resulting in banks having an opportunity to increase adoption rates, as well as maintain and even grow customer relationships post the pandemic.

Contact Centre Technology Changing the Environment

So, what are some of the trends transforming the digital customer contact experience? Below are some of the observed developments in the industry which we will discuss in subsequent blogs in greater detail.

Designing with no humans in mind

• Increasingly, companies, especially those in the fintech space, are designing their businesses and processes in such a way that their customers hardly ever need to engage with a human in the business. Applications, customer contact points/interfaces and processes are designed from the perspective of being digital dissentients, aiming to be so instinctive and user-friendly, that their customers never need to search for the typical “How to Contact Us” link

Natural language processing (NLP) & IVR

• NLP is still in its very early stages of application. The systems for example can be utilised to identify the emotional state/human language of a customer and therefore provide the ability to analyse voice patterns.
• Due to the increasing sophistication of NLP systems, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), is making a resurgence. When these systems were first introduced, they were clunky, not quite sophisticated enough and the voice recognition software was troublesome, so they were often abandoned. The opportunity now exists for these technologies to complement each other.

Analytics, Data & AI Models - The need to reimagine the customer experience post COVID

• To fully utilise any AI models/data, organisations need to ensure integration of data across channels. Organisations should have a systematic approach for aggregating data into a single source of the truth developing a strategic approach by building AI models/data around a single integrated platform.
• We hope the COVID pandemic will come to an end as vaccination programs around the world are rolled out. We can expect changing customer preferences and trends to continue post the pandemic and as organisations we need to ensure that customers reach the migration point to digital. Very often the best way to accelerate the customer experience and efficiency is to increase the digital self-service options for customers.

Build capabilities for a fast-changing environment

Having a holistic decision platform that can enable an organisation to use customer data, both internal and external to the organisation, to connect each experience, provide timely offers and tailored services to their customers will be key as we navigate through this transition.

This is the sort of capability that the FICO cloud platform can deliver upon as an end to end personalised digital customer experience across all channels of the entire business lifecycle.

As we settle into the “new normal”, we can expect that customers have adopted new digital services and business processes offered and that some customers will have made a permanent switch to digital.

We will continue to explore the changing roles humans fulfil through in future blogs covering the positive impacts of technology, how contact centres and use machine learning and the need to reimagine the customer experience post pandemic.




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