Contact centre managers face many challenges in their roles. Complex rosters, unexpected staff turnover, budget restrictions and keeping agents motivated are just a few factors that can cause managers to sometimes contemplate whether they should have chosen a different career path. It is not an easy gig by any stretch of the imagination and that is without factoring in another task that is vital but at times frustrating – the ability to understand and articulate why customers are calling.

What is customer intent?

Customer intent refers to the specific goal or desired outcome that a customer or caller is hoping to achieve when they interact with an organisation. Why have they contacted your team? What is the problem they are trying to solve? How can your agents ensure they walk away satisfied from their interactions? Studies have found that 71% of customers expect businesses to already know why they are calling1, hence why it is essential that every effort is made to not only capture intent but understand what your callers want and why they want it.

Anatomy of a successful call center manager
Anatomy of a successful call center manager_mobile

Source: The Anatomy of a Successful Contact Center Manager [Infographic] | CustomerThink

Benefits of capturing customer intent

The obvious reason to capture customer intent is it helps contact centre managers understand their reasons for making contact and in turn, better address their needs. However, there are a range of other benefits that will resonate with most businesses.

Increase first-contact resolution:

understanding what customers are seeking allows organisations to best position themselves to deliver fast and appropriate service. Swiftly routing a caller to the correct agent or a suitable self-service option is essential in modern contact centres, especially if it means customers are not required to explain their query multiple times.

Identity caller trends:

it is a fact of business life that unexpected trends sometimes arise. For example, there may be a sudden dip in Net Promoter Score (NPS) and executives and team leaders will understandably want to know what caused it. Was there a change in the demand mix? Have there been issues with deliveries? Providing contact centre managers with tools that measure customer intent means they do not need to resort to asking agents: “Was there anything unusual about the calls today?”

Reduce average handle time (AHT):

the less time an agent needs to spend on each call, the more calls they can facilitate during a shift. This increase in call efficiency will see a marked reduction in one of the contact centre sector’s key performance metrics – AHT – and is one of the main reasons businesses invest in identifying and understanding customer intent.

Lower abandonment rates:

there are few greater frustrations for both customers and contact centres than abandoned calls. The average rate of abandonment for most contact centres is 5-8%2, which equates to far too many missed interactions and unhappy callers. Having a clear understanding of customer intent can help direct calls to the right agents, reduce the time people spend on hold and ultimately increase customer satisfaction.

Decrease call volume:

understanding customer intent is a proven way to deal with queries promptly and accurately on first contact and in turn, reduce repeat calls about the same issue. Along with reducing call volumes and AHT, this frees up agents to deal with more complex and rewarding issues.

How have contact centres traditionally captured customer intent?

One of the challenges for contact centre managers is they have historically been forced to use manual or rudimentary processes for capturing intent.

Tracking IVR inputs:

interactive voice response (IVR) technology was a game-changer for contact centres when it emerged decades ago, with customers able to use keypad input to respond to pre-recorded options. While modern voice-activated IVR systems are far more sophisticated, limitations remain when it comes to capturing customer intent. Along with typically only providing callers with a limited number of reasons for calling, customers do not always input the correct information into a system.

Wrap codes:

also known as disposition codes, this process requires agents to “wrap up” a call by manually inputting customisable codes that best reflect a customer’s reason for making contact. Unfortunately, the potential for human error is significant. Agents often fail to accurately enter codes as they are under extreme time pressure or confronted with a lengthy list of potential intents. Conversely, in a bid to reduce code numbers, agents are too often forced to choose from limited options that are general in nature. Wrap codes also need to be frequently reviewed and updated.

Contact center software market size

Source: Contact Center Software Market Size To Hit USD 173.9 Bn By 2030 (precedenceresearch.com

How is Oration changing the customer intent conversation?

Just as IVR had a huge impact when introduced into contact centres decades ago, a modern-day natural language call routing solution is taking customer intent analysis to the next level. An advanced AI-powered speech recognition technology, Oration by Convai is making life easier not only for contact centre managers and agents but also for the customers they serve.

Oration is achieving this by transferring the customer intent process from the end of a call (eg: wrap codes) to the very beginning of an interaction. By using speech recognition technology to capture the response to a simple question – “How may I help you?” – the cloud-based solution is able to translate the response into an intent and provide businesses with richer sets of reasons for why customers are making contact.

A recent example saw Oration identify almost 250 unique customer intents for a client within the first few months of deployment, providing the business with real-time and highly accurate insights into why customers were reaching out. Contact centre managers were then able to devise and deploy strategies for dealing with such calls. From automated responses and the development of FAQs to deflecting callers into existing self-service and lower-cost channels, it was all possible and backed by evidence-based information.

Crucially, Oration’s automated identification of customer intents removes the burden from increasingly busy agents. Along with saving time, this is a proven morale boost as it allows them to spend less time on an administrative task and focus more on what they do best – supporting callers. Contact centre managers can also identify trending issues or topics faster and take appropriate action to address such concerns or manage workloads.

How can you leverage customer intent?

Capturing intent is just the first step in the process. Businesses need to ensure they have strategies in place for analysing and then leveraging the data and information they collect. This is when they can compare the likes of AHT, agent effort and customer satisfaction to target opportunities for improvement.

  • Customer journey: identifying key reasons for contact centre demand allows managers to prioritise the issues that will result in customers enjoying better interactions and service.
  • Better tech: collecting intent insights allows contact centre managers to identify opportunities to roll out improved call routing options.
  • Automated processes: accessing better customer intent data means organisations can invest in automation strategies that aim to help customers tackle general issues without agent support.

Summary

Customer intent technology has come a long way and with the rise of solutions such as Oration by Convai, contact centre managers have access to more accurate insights than ever before. Better still, those insights are destined to empower contact centres to deliver more personalised, efficient and responsive customer service than ever before.

The past year has seen endless headlines about generative AI but it is essential not to get swept away by the media hype. Discover why contact centres should partner with tech companies that are not rushing to deploy generative AI technology but doing so with care.

Reference

1. Invoca Buyer Experience Report
2. What's a Call Abandonment Rate & How Do You Calculate It? (hubspot.com)

How AI-powered technology can help transform your contact centre

Watch Demo Book a Demo