From AI call assistant to agent: How to handoff effectively during customer interactions

June 15, 2023

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You have introduced automation into your contact center to serve customers efficiently and provide the best customer experience possible.

Although AI call assistants can contain calls, people’s negative perceptions of automated systems can override their trust or the complexity of their query may fall outside of the voice assistant’s capabilities.

So, what happens when your customers want to speak to an agent?

When should an AI call assistant handoff to an agent?

The most appropriate time for an AI call assistant to handoff to an agent is unique to your business case. All customer queries are important, but they will require an order of priority, which the call type can determine.

Revenue generating calls

Agents are more equipped to handle high-urgency, high-priority calls that can negatively impact business revenue and the customer’s experience if they are not resolved quickly.

When a customer wants to cancel their account, they require immediate attention. An agent can negotiate and incentivize them to stay. Therefore, handing over to an agent earlier in the conversation will have a greater impact and create better outcomes for the customer.

However, customers with routine queries such as resetting their password are more willing to wait for a response from an AI call assistant that can guide them through the process.

Managing sensitive calls

Changing an AI call assistant’s tone of voice to sound empathetic is an effective way of creating the best experience for the customer. For calls of a sensitive nature, such as reporting the death of a family member, it’s crucial to give customers the choice to skip the voice assistant and speak directly to an agent who can provide the support they need.

How to handoff to an agent effectively

The quality of a handoff can make or break the customer experience. Poor execution leads to misrouted calls and long hold times, and customer control over the conversation is lost.

An AI call assistant can handoff to an agent in the following ways to ensure seamless experiences that maintain a high level of customer service.

Handoff after partial automation

This approach saves the agent and customer time by partially automating the call before handing them off to a live agent to complete the transaction. For example, a voice assistant initiates the reservation process by collecting essential details like the arrival date and number of guests before handing them off to an agent to complete the booking.

To ensure a seamless customer experience, when a call must be routed to an agent, an AI call assistant can populate data from the call into a screen pop on your agent’s desktop. This best practice can use generative AI to summarize the interaction, reducing the need for the customer to repeat their query and making the process significantly more efficient.

This handoff strategy is an effective first step for organizations that don’t yet have the infrastructure to automate all customer transactions end-to-end.

Handoff after clarifying questions

Customers ask unexpected questions, and sometimes, the intent can be ambiguous. An AI call assistant might understand the customer is calling about a fault with their car but can’t pick up on the nuances of what the caller is saying.

In these instances, the AI call assistant can encourage further conversation by saying, “Can you tell me a bit more about the issue?”.

By asking clarifying questions and gathering additional information, the voice assistant reduces the need for the customer to repeat themselves when handed over to an agent and decreases the time to resolution.

You can use this open-ended feedback integrated naturally into the conversation to generate new customer insights and improve operational efficiency as your business needs change.

Designing for a seamless experience

Your design considerations about how a voice assistant escalates your customer’s calls to an agent should affirm that the customer is heard, that you understand, and are getting them to the right place at the right time.

If a customer asks for an agent, you should get them there seamlessly. But consider your risk tolerance as a business and whether your voice assistant can push back by stating, “I can help you with your query. Would you like to continue?” or whether escalating the query to an agent immediately will drive better results.

Conclusion

By executing effective handoffs, you can deliver exceptional customer service while alleviating the strain on agents.

This collaboration ultimately leads to a better customer experience by providing quick and accurate responses, personalized assistance, reduced wait times, and seamless interaction with your company.

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