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AI Chatbots in the Contact Center – Help in a Crisis

In the past few weeks, I’ve been reaching out to contact center managers to find out what key problems have been brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and how they are dealing with them. From what I gather, skyrocketing volume, a need for consistent messaging, and sudden onboarding of new agents have been the primary causes for concern among almost all of them. It’s at times like this where the real value of AI becomes clear. 

Many of our contact center customers are using our AI solutions (Chatbot and Agent Assist) to deal with these issues and react swiftly to the crisis. By taking advantage of these tools, you too can keep customer communication (and your sanity!) intact. 

Skyrocketing chat volume 

When inbound chat volume quickly increases, as it often does in a crisis of any kind, your contact center can quickly become overwhelmed. Take a look at the estimated wait times that WestJet was showing on their website on March 12th 2020 (sorry WestJet, we know many other companies were experiencing similar challenges too!):

Chatbots are ideal tools for identifying and categorizing queries quickly, and then resolving the issue without a human agent. For example, someone looking for a general policy on rebooking or for an update on whether a specific flight is cancelled can be instantly served by the chatbot. Take a look below for just one example of how a chatbot can effortlessly handle questions.

airline chat

Using this chatbot not only reduces wait times and queue lengths, but it also gives your agents more time to deal with more complex or sensitive issues. For example, imagine someone whose flight leaves later that night, or a tour group leader with a large and complicated itinerary to discuss – they could be connected immediately with the right agent once the chatbot has recognized their issue is more challenging and needs the ‘human touch’.

airline chat

Internal processes can change quickly in a crisis situation. Thankfully, it’s also quick and easy to update a chatbot. Continuing with the WestJet example, they reacted to the crisis by building a cancellation/rebooking tool which customers could use without having to contact an agent. Chatbots can plug into these systems to facilitate these workflows, and give them more visibility, so that fewer people clog up your queue with requests that they can handle themselves. And more zero-touch resolutions means better, faster service for those that really need it.

Consistent messaging 

In a challenging time like now, many of your customers will be reaching out looking for guidance and information. It’s critically important that the information presented by your contact center team is accurate and consistent. If a customer gets conflicting answers from different agents, that degrades their trust in your company. Providing your agents with accurate and easily-accessible knowledge base articles and canned messages can go a long way here. 

I spoke with a client the other day who was forced to send her entire contact center staff of over 100 agents home due to social distancing measures. Their on-premise phone system couldn’t support agents working from home, so they quickly made the decision to move all of those agents on to live chat, making that the primary channel for their inbound customer communications. Another company I talked to was temporarily transferring employees from non-customer-facing departments to their live chat team to try to manage the overwhelming chat volume. 

In both cases, Comm100’s agent-facing AI, Agent Assist, has been invaluable in putting accurate information into agents’ hands quickly. While your agent is chatting to the customer, Agent Assist monitors the conversation, interprets the questions being asked, and then suggests answers to your agent in real-time from the Knowledge Base, canned messages, and chatbot intents. 

In times like these, when a normal onboarding which might take several weeks isn’t on the table, having a proactive assistant for every agent can really help relieve stress and enable helpful, consistent service. Here’s an example of how it can be used: 



In a crisis, everyone is forced to move faster, us at Comm100 included. If you’d like to quickly get ramped up with the AI tools discussed in this article, speak to us through live chat on our site, or call 1-877-305-0464. We’re here to help!

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Cale Shapera

About Cale Shapera

Cale Shapera is a Chatbot Architect at Comm100. He uses his experience in web development, knowledge management, and technical writing to create cutting-edge AI chatbot solutions. Connect with him on LinkedIn