A customer shaking hands with a digital partner over a blue background
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Editor's Note: This is part 1 of a 4 part series on customer experience, sponsored by NICE.

Think about the last time you dialed a customer support line. Perhaps you pressed button after button only to realize you’d been routed to the wrong department — or worse, hung up out of frustration because you couldn’t get to a live person. On the other hand, the experience may have been very different. A real person answered the phone. She seemed to instantly relate to you. She helped you with your issue. And you ended the call happy. All in just a few minutes, and all in a very human, personalized way.

In the experience economy, companies that can make memorable connections with their customers are those that are coming out ahead. In fact, close to 90 percent of global call center leaders say improving the customer experience is the primary driver for their organizations, according to Deloitte. But for many call centers, the endless routing scenario is all too common. Legacy technologies don’t align with organizational priorities. Systems require manual maintenance, and are more likely to break down. Customers are routed to first-available employees, rather than those most likely to relate to them. And customers hang up dissatisfied, never to return.

Emerging technologies promise to change all that. Like Airbnb, Uber and Amazon before them, call centers are using AI and advanced analytics to disrupt the industry and offer consumers better experiences. Going a step further with technologies like Predictive Behavioral Routing, the industry is on the road to making customer interactions human again.

Related Article: How Smarter Connections Lead to Better Call Center Outcomes with Immediate Results

The Right Employee for the Right Caller

Predictive Behavioral Routing uses tools like AI and analytics to connect customers with call center employees based on the customer’s personality, communication preferences and behaviors — all with the goal of providing better, personalized service. For example, a customer with a compassionate, warm personality is connected with an employee who can best empathize and offer supportive assistance, while someone with a logical, organized personality is routed to an employee who can offer efficient, step-by-step problem solving.

Here's how the technology works:

  • A customer dials into your contact center
  • The system uses algorithms to analyze past behaviors and searches a personality database to determine the customer’s personality style
  • The customer is automatically routed to the “best fit” employee who provides an experience tailored to the customer’s personality

Because systems that use Predictive Behavioral Routing get smarter with every interaction, each employee-customer match becomes better than the last, improving future experiences for employees, as well as callers.

Related Article: 4 Ways to Balance Personalization and Privacy in the AI-Driven Call Center

Investing In the Human Touch

When customers have more enjoyable, productive call center interactions, they’re more satisfied and less likely to switch to a competitor. According to Forrester, brands using Predictive Behavioral Routing see a 5 percent increase in customer satisfaction. That’s why connecting with customers on an emotional level is so important. But you won’t get there with only the data in your CRM.

To really know your customers and anticipate their needs, you’ll need to go deeper with behavioral analytics to understand customer sentiment. This could include whether or not customers are feeling distressed when they call in, or how they feel about their past experiences with your brand. Organizations that bring all of this data together can make more meaningful customer connections that fuel long-term relationships and differentiate their brands.

This increased investment in the human touch has also shown to speed up first call resolution, lower costs and ultimately, increase revenue.

Redefining the Customer Experience

Voice is the top choice for customer interactions, and will continue to be so in the near future. Therefore, the contact center remains an important source of customer interaction. But yesterday’s technologies and processes won’t help you provide the memorable experiences your customers expect.

According to Paul Stockford, president and chief analyst for Saddletree Research, Predictive Behavioral Routing will fundamentally alter how the industry understands and implements call routing. In an article for the National Association of Call Centers, he writes, “Predictive Behavioral Routing is paving the way for a new era in customer care, combining the best of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the customer experience.”

Emerging technologies promise to bring efficiency and savings to the modern call center. But most of all, they’ll help brands bring back the human connection.