Transforming contact centres via cloud technology
Cloud-based centres can facilitate better training and guidance for employees, improve caller interactions, increase efficiency and reduce costs.
When the Australian Government formed the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in 2016, its purpose was to oversee the government’s overarching Digital Transformation Strategy and, by 2025, become a leading digital government.1 Since its formation, one of the DTA’s primary functions has been to improve the Australian Government’s digital services. The adoption of cloud-based services and technologies across different government departments, including government contact centres, has been critical to this.
With widespread adoption of distributed and remote workforces in 2020 — a trend set to continue into 2021 and the foreseeable future — contact centre managers embraced cloud-based technologies that let employees work from anywhere without reducing their ability to manage call volumes. In government contact centres in particular, investing in cloud-based technologies has the potential to significantly enhance and improve caller interactions in a number of ways.
Embracing digital solutions for a digital future
One of the most effective ways of enhancing the customer experience will be through the continued investment in and optimisation of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other cloud-based digital solutions. While these are by no means new concepts to government agencies, as technologies continue to evolve, so too will their functionality and the benefits they provide to government contact centres.
Augmented intelligence especially will provide significant benefits to government, particularly when combined with automation. Through the combined use of automation and virtual assistants, government can essentially turn their agents into ‘super’ agents, by placing more specific information about caller interactions at the agents’ fingertips.
To meet surging demand for government services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Public Service Commission redeployed more than 2200 public servants to other agencies, according to a report from the Australian National Audit Office.2 This move understandably left many government employees operating with different functions and needs from their home agencies and roles, and required training to support their temporary roles in new agencies.
Redeployment of public servants is common in government, and the COVID-19 response won’t necessarily be the last time such a redistribution and rapid training of staff will be required. However, by integrating new cloud-based tools and technologies, government contact centres can better prepare for future redeployments and ensure staff have access to the information they need, when they need it, wherever they need it.
Integrating technologies for enhanced experiences
Investing in cloud-based technologies will let government agencies provide a better experience for both citizens and agents by facilitating access to better support and training. Modern technologies that integrate AI and automation for a more comprehensive and efficient virtual assistant let staff access more real-time guidance than they have been able to previously. AI can learn by analysing caller interactions on a deeper level and provide immediate assistance and guidance for agents. The driver of this ‘insight to impact’ approach is to assess how quickly an impact can be made on calls, and how quickly employees can act on caller interactions.
The latest AI solutions can leverage past interactions with callers — analysing qualitative metrics including call sentiment, caller behaviours and more, which could not previously be analysed easily or cost-effectively — bringing the right messaging and conclusions directly to agents in real time. With the support of automation, government contact centres will be able to provide on-call training and support, letting them understand what they need to do, say or think about before the call is completed.
Essentially, this will create a digital twin for contact centre agents, providing more personalised and instant assistance that will help agents learn faster and reduce mistakes while serving callers better. This strategic technological integration will be critical in the future to help streamline redeployments of government staff and help provide more assistance to employees that don’t have the extensive training that they would have if operating for their home agencies.
Investing in cost reduction
Investing in contemporary cloud-based technologies will also help government departments reduce costs in the long run and better prepare for the future. By integrating solutions that can provide ongoing, real-time guidance and support to contact centre agents, government agencies can reduce the time and costs associated in training new staff. Reducing these time costs will also be incredibly beneficial in terms of redeployments, as it will let agencies bring more agents onboard in less time, letting contact centres provide more support to callers.
Similarly, such technologies can be used to reduce the need for contact centre managers to closely monitor caller interactions, instead letting managers dedicate their time to more sensitive, time-intensive tasks. In addition, integrating smart, cloud-based technologies driven by AI and automation will help support agents working remotely, in the event of continued lockdowns or changing workplace practices.
While reducing the time and financial costs that can be associated with contact centres and training, smart technologies can also increase customer satisfaction and improve the overall caller experience. Integrating analytics capabilities provides an added layer of AI to talk to and invoke automation with more context and engagement. In particular, the combination of AI, automation and analytics in the latest contact centre technologies provides new opportunities for government contact centres to measure previously unquantifiable metrics and soft behaviours, including call sentiment and caller and agent behaviours.
Where previously these would be measured by another agent listening in and monitoring the call for training purposes, values can now be put to these behaviours to automatically quantify, analyse and report on behaviours, giving agents the tools to adapt in real time for better, more efficient call interactions. This can also decrease the need for redeployed staff to rely on support from colleagues in their new agencies, which can reduce the time needed to complete calls while sourcing expertise and answers from other agents, and also reduce the associated costs.
By investing in cloud-based technologies that support contact centre agents, government can facilitate better access to training and real-time guidance for employees now and into the future, which will improve caller interactions, while also increasing efficiency and productivity and reducing costs. Government departments can use cloud-based technologies and the benefits they provide to enhance and transform contact centres and provide a better overall experience for callers and agents, without increasing costs long-term.
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