Some recent studies report the number of businesses employing some form of automation is on the rise. Redwood Software and Sapio Research, for example, polled information technology (IT) leaders. The respondents believe nearly 59 percent of businesses will be automated within the next five years. The University of Oxford reports a smaller percentage — 47 percent — but the takeaway remains the same: automation is coming to businesses and organizations around the globe.
Some business owners think the trend could decimate workforces, transform economies, or require extensive changes to existing operations. Other business leaders perceive automation’s benefits to specific business functions, such as call centers and communications. To them, automation presents opportunities to change not only their call centers but also their call center agents for the better.
To prove the second case, this article covers five benefits of automation. It then offers a short discussion on auto dialers, an automated tool found with modern call center platforms.
1. Automation Saves Money
Jeff Wald, Forbes contributor, says automation could save businesses more than $4 million annually. He bases his numbers on WorkMarket’s “2020 In(Sight) Report.” It finds that 54 percent of surveyed employees could save up to two work hours per day with automation. As for business leaders, 78 percent say automation would save them up to three work hours a day.
If businesses with call centers were to automate routine processes, such as inbound and outbound calls, they could see similar results—and they could immediately start saving time and money. They could then take those excess hours and funds and pour them back into the company to train agents, develop new products and services, or pursue other business growth opportunities.
2. Automation Prevents Human Errors
Automation also minimizes errors—or at least makes errors easier to solve. Authors Martin L. Abbott and Michael T. Fisher say in their book The Art of Scalability: Scalable Web Architecture, Processes, and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise, “People frequently make mistakes; even more frustratingly, they tend to make the same mistake in different ways multiple times. […] Automation, by comparison, is comparatively cheap and will always make the same mistakes or have the same successes in exactly the same way each time (emphasis added). As such, it is easy to tune and easy to rely upon automation for simple repetitive tasks.”
That is, humans are messy while automation is reliable. When managers and executives find a human error, they may discover it takes a great deal of time and effort to correct. A machine-based error is different. It’s relatively easy to figure out where the problem lies and how to repair it so that the problem doesn’t happen again.
3. Automation Improves Internal Processes
Besides preventing errors, automation can enhance internal processes. Knowledge sharing, for example, improves through automation. Automated functions like data entry and dissemination ensure agents possess the best information on any call. Auto dialers, another automated component, can prevent duplicate efforts, reduce time wasted dialing dead numbers and mitigate duplicate dialing, annoyingly repetitive calls and agent effort overlap.
Automation can improve other internal processes, too. For example, it can enhance communications and accountability. The first is important, as agents require up-to-date information. Keeping all departments informed and encouraging interpersonal communication helps with that. The second also is important, particularly when working with remote employees. Automated processes and auto dialers guarantee agents can complete their work, regardless of the size or complexity of call lists.
4. Automation Empowers Call Center Agents
Automation offers still other advantages to call centers. TechRepublic, for instance, views automation as complementary to people. By using automated technologies like auto dialers, call centers’ agents would be freed from less desirable tasks. They could then give more attention to higher-level ones.
The capability would be beneficial since consumers increasingly “self-serve” for simple items like bills, refills, and hours and only call to speak with an agent for complex questions and issues. An auto dialer, when integrated with IVR, facilitates that process, guiding customers to the agent best equipped to handle their call. The time saved reduces frustration for both the agent and the customer; enhances the customer experience; and often maximizes agent efficiency and productivity.
5. Automation Ensures Easy Scalability
Finally, automation helps with scalability. Automation limits labor and staff needs, which contributes to the ease in scaling upward and downward when necessary. Agents will no longer waste hours completing simple tasks, and some companies may find that automation lets them reduce the number of agents needed during a shift.
Automation also leads to replicable processes, what Mor Mester at Automizy calls a “growth hack.” Mester writes about marketing automation specifically in his article, but his principles apply to scaling call centers. He says growth hacking is about “finding a combination of ‘hacks’ that […] are scalable (emphasis added) so that you can keep growing without major growth bumps on the way to a sustainable business.” Auto dialers are one such “hack,” making it possible to automate, replicate, and scale a particular activity within the call center.
Auto Dialers Improve Call Centers
Automation is a big subject, mostly because it can be applied to almost any business operation. Auto dialers provide a helpful limitation, helping businesses successfully automate their call centers before attempting to streamline another area of the business.
Plus, auto dialers offer benefits in and of themselves. They apply a system to inbound and outbound calls that can be used again and again. They also provide assurances about productivity, keeping agents accountable and providing a consistent, seamless customer experience.
Auto dialers increase productivity and efficiency, too. Call center agents spend their time talking with customers, not looking for customer data or other needed information. Auto dialers can also aid right-party connectivity and compliance efforts, safeguarding against contacting people on the Do Not Call list or infringing on people’s privacy.
Automation is the wave of the future. Businesses can wait for the trend to crest, or they can use it to their advantage today. Want to see how TCPA compliance interacts with the big wins of auto dialers? Download our infographic on Automation vs. Human Intervention.