Enhance your call centre with chatbots

Part 1: What's wrong with calling us?

In this 4 part series, we explore some of the challenges faced within call / contact centres and how chatbot technology can help alleviate some of these challenges and provide you with additional customer insight and increased customer satisfaction.


One challenge realised by many organisations, is how to provide a scalable, high quality service to their customers whilst balancing the need to keep costs under control and call wait times at a minimum.

Often the solution is seen as being quite simple, add more agents to your contact centre team or alternatively do the best you can to manage call volumes with a limited call centre team and increased demand on their time and resources.

There are multiple ways to improve this situation both for yourself and your customers:

  • Do more with less
  • Do less with more

What do we mean by this?

Firstly we can do more with less from the perspective of our contact centre team. Solutions can be implemented within our call centre software to assist agents with processing calls faster, and reducing agent onboarding time through the delivery of just in time "agent assist" functionality where suggested answers are automatically suggested by the system to guide the agent towards the correct answer.

This still requires a human touch - however can become a solid baseline of improving overall efficiency.

The second front to explore is how we do less with more - whereby how do we focus on doing less work in the call centre because we have more support prior to receiving the call.

This article series will focus on the latter: how do we engage our customers earlier in the process and redirect our limited human agents onto more complex customer queries or focus on reducing call wait times for those customers who still require a conversation with your team.

What problem are we trying to solve

Let's begin by breaking down why we have a problem in the first place - our customers want to contact us.

Fundamentally, this is our challenge - but equally our opportunity to understand the issue in more detail.

The challenge The challenge

Customers are trying to call us for various reasons, perhaps because they want to e.g. They have a query about a product or service and were unable (or unwilling) to find the answer on your website, or in some cases they are contacting you because they have to, e.g. They have a problem with your product or service and require you to resolve it.

Both scenarios lead to the same issue, but influence the sentiment and willingness of your customers to engage with you.

Status quo

Many of our clients have a call centre setup to process inbound queries from their customers, either over the phone or through emails / web forms. There is nothing wrong with this baseline - and in fact many customers prefer to speak with someone due to the assumption that this can be the faster way to resolve their query or issue.

In parallel, there is typically a strong investment in an underlying web presence that contains a lot of useful information whether this be related to store opening hours, refund policies, or guides on how to access your account and perform self service activities.

However even with all of this investment already in place, customers keep calling your call centre.

Status Quo Status Quo

When analysing contact drivers you will typically notice 8-12 core reasons for someone to call. Many of these do indeed require intervention from your contact centre team, however many of them do not.

If these are broken down further, typically ~50% of these are related to information that you have already given an answer for. But why are people still calling to speak with someone?

In many cases, it comes down to personal preference - calling you is seen as the fastest route to remediation. Some customers also have no interest in searching your website for an answer as this takes time and requires multiple searches, and multiple page/article reads to get to the answer they are looking for.

Know your customer

Another consideration when focusing the majority of your customer support on a contact centre with human agents is how this impacts your understanding of your customers.

A contact centre typically analyses all inbound phone calls and maps these to defined contact drivers. These could be grouped to high-level containers related to a billing query, trouble accessing an account, general query about new services, and so on.

Human nature typically requires a proportionate return from time or effort invested into an activity. Calling your contact centre fits into this mindset. Would you spend 30 minutes waiting to speak to someone in order to confirm that an item was in stock for collection today, or if the store was even closing in the next hour? Probably not.

It's these "low value" queries that are often missed from typical call driver reports as the enquiry is not worth the effort of calling.

Typically this does not pose a problem at all, a customer didn't feel the need to call, and therefore didn't call. Problem solved right?

What if you could understand these hidden drivers in more detail and understand what "lower value" queries (from the perspective of a call driver only - but perhaps high value queries from overall customer or brand satisfaction) would have been made by customers.

Know your customer Know your customer

The key is making the process to ask a question simple, instant, and accurate. With this paradigm in place, customers typically ask more questions through follow up queries and equally are encouraged to ask more light touch questions than they would otherwise warrant doing if they had to call you.

Let's take an example..... We implement a chatbot on your website, whereby the chatbot receives a query from one of your customers who is looking to propose to their partner on an upcoming flight - and wants to know if you can help them announce this.

In isolation, this doesn't appear to be revolutionary - however coupled with numerous other instances that our chatbot observed from other customers who made similar requests such as someone who wants to sing Happy Birthday to their daughter over the intercom there is an underlying theme of customer engagement which would be difficult to discover when comparing contact centre call drivers.

In many situations your customers may continue to pursue a phone call, for others it's an opportunistic request that would be great to fulfil if it was simple - but may not necessitate the effort to get in touch over the phone.

Depending on your products or services, this is a missed PR opportunity for your brand.


Known by many names, Chatbots, bots, digital assistances, or conversational agents can engage with your customers instantly and sign post them to relevant information or self service options on your website.

They are not a replacement for your contact centre, however do introduce low cost, high value augmentation of your existing customer support proposition to provide an optional interaction point that is faster for your customers, and cheaper than receiving an inbound phone call.

Most customers will attempt to communicate with a chatbot and be satisfied with this approach as long as the chatbot works as expected, processes their very specific query correctly, and is seen to offer a more streamlined experience that traditional channels such as speaking to your agents.

Not all customers will chose to engage with a chatbot, either because their query is deemed to be complex, or that they simply have a personal preference to speak with a person.

Because of this, chatbots will never replace your contact centre - however they can focus on alleviating inbound load from some of your most common call drivers.

Chatbots Chatbots

Chatbots also have the unique ability to handle demand spikes, either seasonal, marketing related, or simply when there is a issue with your product and service and you have exceptionally high call volumes. A chatbot remains instant and usable regardless of the number of concurrent queries.

With their ability to effectively filter queries and provide instant answers where possible, chatbots can become the new default contact mechanism that are recommended by default to your customers with alternate methods such as email, web forms, or calling you becoming escalation based channels.


One important virtue of a chatbot is that it can be relatively simple to work out the likely return on investment and align this to your existing contact centre model.

If we take an example of a retailer who currently received on average 2,000 phone calls per day.

At a high level this may break down as follows:

  • 2,000 calls per day
  • Of which 50% are related to a customer wanting an update on an existing order
    • Can we avoid 20% of these calls by signposting customers to a self service option on the website?
  • Of the remaining 50%
    • Can we avoid 30% of related questions such as store opening hours?

The above statistics are conservative and assume a sub set of customers who will choose to engage with a chatbot.

Looking at our existing contact centre, we have determined a resource cost of £3 per inbound phone call taken by one of our agents.

Using the example above, our chatbot solution might conservatively deflect 500 calls per day from our contact centre.

This introduces a real-world value of £1,500 per day and in practical project terms an overall return on investment that is typically less than 1 month.


Why is this a problem that needs solving?

Core potential benefits include:

Understanding your customer, either earlier in the process or through engaging in alternative channels such as chatbots to uncover opportunities to assist that would not otherwise be picked up by your contact centre.

Dynamically resourcing customer queries with large demand spikes without having to invest in additional contact centre agents for short term demand increases.

Providing responses instantly to your customers for common queries.

Increasing customer satisfaction by concentrating existing contact centre resources on other customers.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you enhance your call centre - please get in touch.

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