Balancing human touch and automation: The role of guided workflows in contact centers

Tashu Aggarwal

April 28, 202310 min read

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The use of advanced technology is increasing in the realm of contact centers. From automated chat services to predictive analytics, such technology can enhance the speed, efficiency and accuracy of customer interactions. However, despite the benefits that technology brings, there is one element that can never be replaced — human touch.

The human touch is a vital component of contact center interactions. It can be the difference between a customer feeling like they are just a number versus feeling valued and heard. Customers want to feel like they are interacting with a real person who understands their needs and can empathize with their situation. Automated solutions may be able to provide solutions quickly, but they can never replicate the emotional connection that human agents can create.

While live agents provide a personalized touch that customers appreciate, they face challenges such as limited capacity, lack of consistency and potential for errors. To overcome these challenges, companies are increasingly turning to guided workflows to aid their agents. Guided workflows can provide agents with the necessary information and tools to quickly and effectively handle customer interactions. By automating some of the more mundane and routine tasks, agents have more time to focus on building a connection with the customer.

Table of Contents

Why human touch is vital in contact centers

The importance of the human touch in contact centers cannot be overstated. Technology has undoubtedly revolutionized the industry, but it’s the human element that truly makes a difference. A chatbot or an AI-powered system may be able to provide basic support, but it lacks the emotional intelligence and empathy that only a human agent can provide.

Customers want to feel valued and be heard. They want to know that their concerns are being taken seriously and that there is someone on the other end of the line who cares about their issue. A human touch can provide that reassurance and build trust between the customer and the company.

Furthermore, human touch can help defuse potentially volatile situations. When a customer is angry or frustrated, an AI-powered system could exacerbate the situation by providing canned responses or failing to understand the customer's emotions. A human agent, on the other hand, can listen, empathize and work to find a solution that satisfies the customer.

Limitations of human interaction

While human touch is undoubtedly important in contact centers, it is essential to acknowledge that it also has its drawbacks.

One significant drawback of relying solely on human agents in contact centers is their susceptibility to errors, regardless of their level of training or experience. Such errors could result in incorrect information being communicated to customers or failing to adhere to compliance standards, leading to frustration and loss of trust.

Another potential challenge is the inconsistency in the information provided by different agents. Due to differences in interpretation or communication styles, customers may receive conflicting information from different agents, leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.

In addition, incorporating a human touch in customer interactions can prove to be an expensive affair. This is because it involves considerable costs, such as recruiting and training agents, as well as paying their salaries and benefits.

Furthermore, the capacity of human agents is limited, and they can only handle a finite number of interactions at a time. This can lead to longer wait times for customers and increased frustration.

How guided workflows complement agents

In response to the challenges associated with relying solely on human agents in contact centers, companies are increasingly adopting guided workflows. These workflows are designed to work alongside human agents rather than replace them, providing support and enhancing their capabilities.

Guided workflows consist of predefined processes that assist agents in customer interactions. These workflows leverage artificial intelligence to comprehend customers' intentions and offer guidance to accomplish basic and repetitive tasks, allowing human agents to focus better on complex and high-level tasks that require their specialized knowledge and experience.

The implementation of guided workflows in a contact center can complement agents in the following ways:

Tailor workflows to suit the agent’s specific needs

One size does not fit all when it comes to customer service. That's why guided workflows offer the unique benefit of customization, allowing contact centers to tailor their workflows to suit the specific needs of different groups of agents.

For instance, some agents may specialize in technical support, while others may have expertise in sales or billing. The system can customize the guided workflows for each group to ensure that agents have the knowledge and resources to effectively address customer needs within their area of expertise.

Similarly, a company offers a range of products and services, including software, hardware and consulting services. Guided workflows can be customized for each product or service line, with specific workflows tailored to the needs of the agents handling those products or services.

In addition, those guided workflows can be customized to adapt to org-level changes, such as new product releases, updates to existing products or changes in policies and procedures. This ensures that agents are always equipped with the most up-to-date information to provide the best possible service to customers.

Provide proactive recommendations based on the conversation context

In contact centers, one of the key challenges for agents is providing accurate and timely solutions to customers' problems. With AI-powered guided workflows, this challenge can be addressed by utilizing machine learning algorithms to provide proactive recommendations that are tailored to the specific context of the conversation.

Imagine a customer is experiencing issues with their internet connection. The AI-powered guided workflow can analyze the interaction to understand the nature of the problem and suggest specific solutions for the agent to implement, such as resetting the modem or checking the network settings. This not only saves time for the agent but also increases the likelihood of a successful resolution for the customer.

An AI-powered guided workflow essentially acts as a virtual assistant, providing an agent with relevant and timely information to help them deliver exceptional customer service.

Enable seamless API integration to fetch data in real time

Guided workflows can be seamlessly integrated with APIs to fetch data in real time from various sources, such as CRMs or databases. This integration allows agents to access customer information, order histories and other relevant data to provide more personalized and effective service.

Let's say a customer contacts a company's support center to inquire about a recent order. The guided workflow can automatically pull the customer's order history from the company's CRM database and display it to the agent on the guided workflow interface. The agent can then use this information to support the customer and quickly address their concerns.

In addition, through API integration, agents can access information about products or services, pricing and promotions, allowing them to provide accurate information to customers in real time. This reduces the need for agents to switch between different systems or applications, streamlining the process and making it more efficient.

Facilitate quick resolution with interactive elements such as buttons, links and forms

Interactive elements like buttons, links and forms integrated into guided workflows can greatly enhance the efficiency of contact center agents. Interactive forms ensure agents collect accurate and complete information, reducing the chances of errors or miscommunications. Buttons, on the other hand, allow agents to access relevant information and instructions that help them resolve customer issues quickly. Lastly, links on guided workflows provide easy access to information agents may need to assist customers.

For instance, when a customer reports a technical issue with their product, the guided workflow system can provide the agent with a pre-built form that prompts them to ask specific questions related to the issue. The form helps the agent gather all the necessary information to quickly diagnose the problem and provide a solution.

A product screenshot showing a troubleshooting guide that has a pre-built form with specific questions related to a customer's issue.

Similarly, a button could be pre-built to "resolve issue," "escalate to supervisor," "provide more information," or "schedule a call," depending on the needs of the contact center. Links could also lead agents to knowledge base articles, external resources or relevant web pages that assist in resolving customer issues.

Help agents better understand the process with visual aids such as diagrams, videos or images to

The saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and in the case of guided workflows, visual aids can be worth even more. By providing agents with visual support in the form of diagrams, videos or images, the system can help them navigate complex processes or concepts with ease.

Imagine a new agent tasked with resolving a customer's issue involving a highly technical product. Instead of being overwhelmed by technical jargon and complex instructions, the agent is presented with a visual aid that breaks down the process into simple steps. The agent can follow along with ease and resolve the customer’s issue without any kind of hesitation.

Furthermore, visual aids can be beneficial not just for new agents but also for experienced ones who may encounter unique or rare scenarios. With the help of visual aids, agents can quickly grasp the situation and provide solutions efficiently.

A product screenshot containing visual aids that break down the resolution process into simple steps.

Progress tracking so that agents can see how far they have progressed through the process

Progress tracking is an essential feature of guided workflows that allows agents to monitor their progress as they work through customer interactions. By displaying the completed steps and the remaining tasks, agents can have a better understanding of where they stand in the process and what needs to be done next.

This information can help agents feel more in control of their work and stay focused on the task rather than getting lost in the details or feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of the process. Additionally, progress tracking can help agents identify potential issues or bottlenecks in the workflow, allowing them to take corrective action before the situation escalates.

Book appointments

Imagine a customer contacting a company's support center to schedule an appointment for a product demonstration or consultation. With guided workflows, the agent can quickly navigate to the appointment booking section and access the available time slots that fit the customer's preferences. The agent can then book the appointment for the customer, sending them a confirmation email or text message with all the necessary details.

The appointment booking feature can help reduce call wait times by ensuring that agents are available to handle calls at the scheduled time rather than being overwhelmed with incoming calls.

A product screenshot showing an appointment booking page.

Tailored guidance by collecting data from previous interactions

Guided workflows can provide tailored guidance by collecting data from the customer's previous interactions. By prefetching this information, agents can quickly access the necessary details without asking the customer for the same information again.

Imagine a customer has previously contacted the company regarding a refund for a specific order and has already shared their order number during that interaction. Suppose the customer contacts the company again to inquire about the refund status. In that case, the guided workflow can retrieve the order number from the previous interaction and display the refund status to the agent, saving both the customer and the agent time and effort.

Closing thoughts

Despite the advancements in technologies within the contact center industry, they cannot completely replace the value of human interaction. Agents still play a critical role in providing empathetic and personalized support to customers. Fortunately, the perfect synergy can be achieved by combining the power of AI-powered guided workflows with the skill and intuition of human agents.

By providing agents with real-time data, proactive recommendations and tailored guidance, guided workflows can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of human agents in resolving customer issues. The seamless integration of technology and human touch enables contact centers to provide outstanding customer experience that sets them apart from competitors. Ultimately, the true power of technology lies not in replacing humans but in augmenting their capabilities and enabling them to deliver exceptional service.

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