Real-Time Guidance Is Key to a Great Service Experience

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Real-time guidance (RTG) solutions are designed to advise and guide agents in resolving and handling service inquiries or closing a sale or collection. An RTG solution can provide pop-up alerts, callouts, notifications, or scripts when an agent is mistaken and says something wrong or takes an incorrect action; it can deliver information relevant to an inquiry, such as the last steps taken on behalf of a customer; or it can be predictive and propose suggestions or activities, sometimes referred to as next-best-action (NBA) recommendations. These capabilities can help agents enhance and grow relationships with customers by suggesting upsells or new products.

Real-time guidance and NBA tools give agents the insights they need to elevate each customer interaction from an information-gathering and delivery exercise to a problem-solving and relationship-building session. This artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled servicing approach transforms the agent experience from a rushed and stressful test of their memory and ability to quickly find information to one that helps them become brand relationship advocates. For customers, it creates a welcoming and positive discussion (spoken or written) with an individual who is their advocate.

Real-time guidance applications leverage AI technologies to understand live conversations as they occur and use this information to deliver actionable alerts or recommendations to agents and/or supervisors. In order to provide in-the-moment guidance, these solutions locate and pull information in real time from disparate systems and databases (including knowledge bases) and combine it with contextual insights about the interaction from the agent’s desktop and/or conversation. Data about the agent—their tenure, skill proficiencies, key performance indicators, etc.—can be considered to decide how to best assist them with the interaction. Knowledge about the customer and their preferences can be retrieved and incorporated through integrations with a customer relationship management (CRM) solution or other servicing system. The real-time information collected while the customer is on the line can be aggregated and compared with business rules or AI-based predictive analytics algorithms or models. Based on the real-time data analysis and/or client-defined rules, the application presents agents with the most appropriate responses to share, actions to take, or offers to make to the customer.

NBA is slightly different from RTG. It provides targeted prompts for new sales, upselling, cross-selling, retention, collections, or other purposes, derived from real-time interaction insights and contextual information from other applications. Based on real-time data analysis, agents are presented with callouts, pop-up boxes, scripts, or step-by-step instructions that provide the most appropriate action to take/optimal offer to make, etc. In other cases, next-best-action recommendations are used to ensure agents know the correct things to say at the right times. Listed below are some common use cases for RTG and NBA:

  • delivering pop-ups, callouts, alerts, notifications, or scripts to remind agents of actions they should or shouldn’t take;
  • delivering procedures to agents so they do things correctly to increase first-contact resolution and reduce operating costs;
  • notifying agents when they are out of compliance with regulatory requirements;
  • reminding agents to perform a two-factor verification before changing a customer’s address or processing a money transfer;
  • providing links to a knowledge base;
  • providing upsell/cross-sell recommendations; and
  • warning agents when there is fraud risk on an account.

Real-time guidance and next-best-action applications are a much more positive and practical approach to coaching and training, as they provide direction to agents right when it’s needed. Real-time guidance is highly beneficial for new hires, as it expedites the training process and helps to improve quality and the customer experience by providing agents with links to an appropriate article, knowledge base, Internet/intranet site, or other training materials. And when these solutions are used to provide ongoing recognition to employees for outstanding performance, they enhance agent engagement and reduce employee attrition.

The benefits of RTG solutions are increasing as these applications become more sophisticated and easier to implement and use. They reduce the average handle time of interactions; they quickly locate information to facilitate inquiries and deliver easy-to-follow guidance enabling agents to rapidly resolve customer issues. This decreases the need for agents to put callers on hold or to transfer them—two things that customers greatly dislike. From a productivity perspective, RTG solutions can shorten handling time by as much as 10 percent on average, which reduces operating costs. Equally important, they improve the employee experience by providing agents with the information they need, allowing them to spend more of their time helping customers and enhancing the relationship. 

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of the people, processes, and technology that drive the strategic direction of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office markets. Fluss can be reached at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com.

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