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How AI Can Combat Staffing Challenges

How AI Can Combat Staffing Challenges

How AI Can Combat Staffing Challenges

These tools can also improve the CX and employee efficiency.

Forecasting economic futures is challenging, but business success depends on it.

The U.S. economy ended 2022 on a sustained strong note. Payrolls continued to grow beyond expectations. Unemployment stayed low. Wages were still growing in December, despite the Federal Reserve’s attempts to curb inflation. The labor market remained tight.

But 2023 could be a turning point. Rising interest rates are expected to increase unemployment. Some economists are predicting the slowing of sectors that caught fire in 2020—transportation, manufacturing and retail—will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Today’s economy has made it particularly challenging for decision-makers to navigate talent acquisition and day-to-day human resources processes.

This is especially true in contact centers. In 2022, the tight labor market, coupled with high turnover and rising volumes of calls, makes staffing contact centers particularly challenging in this environment. The current climate can leave companies facing complex staffing and scheduling issues, which often lead to high onboarding and operating costs.

How AI Can Fight Back

As labor markets evolve, companies can rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to battle these challenges. Since early 2020, decision-makers who are overwhelmed managing short-staffed contact centers have accelerated plans to implement AI.

In fact, 25% of companies already use AI to support HR-related operations like recruiting, hiring, training, and performance management.

It’s clear why: businesses can save more than $8 billion annually with the help of AI-enabled technologies.

The current climate can leave companies facing complex staffing and scheduling issues, which often lead to high onboarding and operating costs.

One such AI-enabled technology is intelligent virtual agents (IVAs). IVAs use advanced analytics with machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to streamline business processes. These tools can streamline HR and contact center processes, enable automation, and increase productivity and savings. Learn below about how AI supplements overburdened teams and positively impacts employee retention.

1. Simplify Recruitment

AI mitigates staffing challenges in contact centers by simplifying the search for candidates. Even before leaders extend a job offer, AI helps businesses source the right candidates.

Recruiters or HR teams use AI-powered intelligent tools to comb through job applications. They can identify the profiles that best match the position description and criteria. Using machine learning, AI screens candidates automatically, which streamlines the time it takes to source the right people for a company’s open positions.

2. DEI Support

AI also helps companies achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals. One way is through sentiment analysis of job descriptions. AI tools can flag any biased language found in job descriptions and onboarding materials. This makes recruiting processes more equitable and the company more inviting to a broad range of candidates.

By prioritizing DEI in this way, organizations can strengthen their candidate pool for better customer support and business outcomes. Especially in tight labor markets, hiring stronger candidates leads to better customer service and less time and fewer resources necessary to get new hires up to speed. Creating a strong base of satisfied customers gives businesses a distinct advantage when competitors are struggling with staffing contact centers.

AI also helps companies achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals ... AI tools can flag any biased language found in job descriptions and onboarding materials.

3. Streamline Shift Changes

Customer experience (CX) is top of mind for many organizations, but it can be tricky to meet CX goals with limited resources.

Decision-makers need to determine the magic number of agents to meet demand and serve customers effectively. Having too many contact center agents unnecessarily drives up overhead costs that fall short of demand. Too few agents make it particularly difficult for a contact center to keep up with incoming customer support requests and evolving CX expectations.

AI can play a vital role in helping contact centers align staff availability with demand on a given day and time. AI-powered IT automates the review of call detail records to determine average call lengths, busy times of the day, language requirements, standard hold times, and other important elements that impact CX.

In addition, employees can text or call an IVA to flag a shift change. The IVA can then automatically notify management of the requested change and suggest alternative staffing options.

4. Correct Payroll Discrepancies

HR and accounting teams can also leverage AI solutions to manage payroll in real time. Managing employee wages accounts for more than half of total business costs.

The ability to streamline payroll-related processes can enable significant cost savings. AI helps businesses and employees ensure payroll is accurate. It also automates regular payroll-related processes. This might include calculating wage earnings, withholding deductions, and delivering payment.

Automation can identify opportunities to make payroll processes more efficient, thereby alleviating overburdened agents so they can focus on customer support.

For example, let’s say an employee notices a discrepancy in their paycheck. They can resolve the issue by reporting it to an IVA instead of reaching out to HR. The individual might also turn to an IVA to update personal information (e.g., a new address or contact information).

5. Facilitate Self-Service Capabilities

Companies that implement self-service capabilities through AI can deliver on customer demands and improve CX.

Self-service means that customers don’t have to wait for a human agent for support. It also reduces the burden on employees to answer every inbound request.

One way businesses can use AI to deliver round-the-clock support is through IVAs. Customers can text their inquiries to an IVA and receive immediate help through a well-programmed contact center AI.

Self-service capabilities give customers control over how they resolve issues. They can contact support at the best time for them via their preferred communication channel. In turn, the business saves money, can supplement human agents, and serve more customers.

6. Boost Employee Efficiency

When companies give employees robust resources and efficient processes, they can better perform their jobs and support customers.

AI-powered tools free support agents from answering simple or repetitive customer questions and ultimately boost employee efficiency.

As “virtual receptionists,” IVAs enable contact center automation that helps contact center agents manage customer requests. These virtual agents provide immediate and contextual information to agents. Contextual information means the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.

Improve Customer Satisfaction with AI

Not only is AI helpful in combatting staffing challenges, but it’s also vital to increase customer satisfaction rates.

AI-enabled tools reduce customer wait times and speed up resolution time because they answer calls immediately and provide contextual service. When these factors improve, customers feel more content. Happy customers alleviate pressure on contact center employees.

AI-powered tools free support agents from answering simple or repetitive customer questions and ultimately boost employee efficiency.

Overall, AI helps companies make data-informed decisions to enhance customer interactions. Contact centers have access to a wealth of customer data that they can use to inform planning and customer support. Decision-makers can then use this information to improve future interactions and increase customer satisfaction.

Though changes can be hard to predict, we can be certain the labor market will continue to fluctuate. CX software that leverages AI can relieve the pressure of customer demands to transform the customer and employee experience.

However, more organizations are realizing the value of AI tools such as IVAs as they combat the complex labor market. AI drives capabilities that allow businesses to increase customer retention and employee satisfaction.

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones is general manager of Mosaicx. In her career of 25-plus years, she has held a broad range of operations executive roles focused on growing businesses, people, and profit margins. Rebecca also serves as a member of the board for the Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Louisville.

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