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The cost of customer service is rapidly increasing, with the cost per call with a human agent ranging from $6 to $15 depending on the size of the company. Meanwhile, the average hourly rate for a contact center agent has increased from $12 to $20 an hour. Staying relevant and profitable in this environment requires a new way of thinking. With customer service cost inflation, contact centers need to reconsider how they can use technology to help cut costs while still employing enough agents and improving customer satisfaction. Here are three ways in which automation can help organizations accomplish just that.

Focus on Proactive Outreach

While the average cost of a call for a call center is $6, the cost of proactive outreach – defined as a strategic way to help customers before they need to contact a support team – is only $0.25. Organizations have an opportunity to analyze what’s going on in their contact centers and find areas that could be more proactive: What are their most common call types? Is there a way to make these customer interactions more proactive?

Technology innovations can help organizations with this proactive outreach. For example, certain robots can detect that a customer’s account has been locked, look up their information to obtain their validated phone number and then send them a secure link to their secure account unlock screen. In this instance, no one needs to call the contact center to unlock their account. It’s beneficial for both customers and agents.

Another common call is when customers call in to ask about the status of a case, ticket, claim or application. When a customer isn’t updated within a given timeframe, they are more likely to call and ask for this information. By leveraging AI and robots together with existing systems, organizations can preemptively update customers on the status of their item before they call.

Better Uses For the Talent You Have

With contact center costs rising, intelligent automation can lead to lower costs. Not only that, but McKinsey found that it also leads to higher customer satisfaction, with an CSAT uptick of up to 20% when agents can spend their time on more complex problems instead of minor issues.

Intelligent automation helps agents take any call type at any time. A robot can work together with the agent like an assistant by guiding them through the steps and allowing them to focus on the conversation with the caller – all while the robot executes the commands and keystrokes in the underlying systems. This means agents can more easily shift underutilized resources to hotspots and help put out fires: lowering customer wait times, reducing abandonment rates and improving customer satisfaction.

Enhance Your Existing Technology

Selecting, procuring and supporting new customer service technology can be an overwhelming process – not to mention risky and expensive. Intelligent automation works with the tools and systems you already have in place. For example, it lets you provide customers with new self-service options in your existing interactive voice system (IVR). Robots can work with nearly any IVR or self-service channel and help bridge the gap between channels and your line of business applications.

Intelligent automation can also help agents navigate legacy systems on their desktop. Robots combined with low-code tools can easily bring together different systems to provide the agent a single view of the customer. They can also be used to embed a guided process into legacy systems and walk agents through complex processes.

Fortunately for those companies interested in solutions that leverage their existing technologies, some vendors can deliver these solutions within weeks. By doing your research and choosing the right partner, you can be more nimble and make a change quickly rather than wait for months or years to implement a solution – further helping control costs and give your existing technology a robot makeover.

Conclusion

As costs rise and contact centers evolve, automation and robots provide companies the opportunity to address disruptions in a cost-effective way. By investing in technologies that satisfy customers, retain talent and reduce wait times, contact centers anywhere can remain relevant and successful. Not only will customers be more satisfied with their experience, but agents will be more empowered to solve complex problems that only humans can solve.

I recently hosted a webinar exploring how to leverage agents and improve your existing technology to contain customer service costs. You can watch it here.

Learn more about UiPath’s contact center automation solutions at uipath.com.