December 6, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t relegated to the niche science fiction realm anymore. In fact, AI is anything but fiction. In healthcare, robots assist in complex surgeries, and they create efficient processes in manufacturing. In education, AI helps differentiate instruction on a per-student basis, and AI conducts algorithmic-based trading, outperforming human stock pickers and changing the nature of Wall Street in the financial sector. AI is everywhere.
So, as it turns out, are contact centers.
At least 3.4 million call center workers are employed by one of the thousands of contact centers in the U.S., according to A.T. Kearney. And the way AI impacts the contact center comes down to strategy and leadership.
AI Impacts The Contact Center
The implications of AI in the contact center are enormous. Let’s look at some of the current – and potential – ways AI impacts the contact center, its employees, and the customers who rely on business to meet them where they are every day.
- AI Enables Self-Service
Omnichannel solutions give the customer control of their journey with your business. A huge part of a successful omnichannel strategy comes down to giving customers the right information at the right time. Self-service is what makes this happen. AI has the potential to predict a customers’ needs and provide likely solutions before they pick up the phone. What does AI-powered self-service look like? Intelligent bots, FAQ resources, virtual agents, and intelligent installation and support.
- AI Empowers Customer Service Representatives (CSRs)
Do you know what most callers hate the most? Waiting. On hold, on the line, it doesn’t matter. AI-powered software provides real-time information to CSRs before, during, and after the customers contacts the center, enabling better processes and more efficient response systems. That equates to a better customer experience and analytics for the business. In terms of the ways AI impacts the contact center, delivering tools to CSRs – who, in turn, deliver better customer service – is key.
- AI Personalizes Customer Interactions
Confirming your identity when contacting a call center is a pain point for customers, especially if they have to confirm the same information multiple times. AI can help integrate contact center technologies and provide the CSR answering the phone all the information they need to help the caller right away. AI personalizes each customer interaction, enabling contact centers to hire CSRs better able to navigate a fast-paced conversation, deliver improved call response times, and resolve customer needs before they become full-blown complaints.
- AI Teams Up With Humans
AI is disruptive. When it comes to how AI impacts the contact center of the future, most businesses are wary to invest and unsure of what that vision will look like. A 2018 Deloitte report found that only 31% of business leaders feel prepared to address the impact of AI in their organizations. That’s despite the fact that 72% of those surveyed believe AI and automation are essential to productivity increases.
When it comes to integrating AI into your contact center, the key is to remember it is a complement to CSRs and contact center operations, not a replacement. The deep analysis and real-time reporting AI offers can better enable the humans in your business to deliver on your business objectives.
- AI Transforms Customer Journey
When it comes to the customer journey, AI impacts the contact center in two specific ways. First, machine learning supports an omnichannel approach to the contact center. The customer journey is complex, and it becomes more complex as businesses add new channels. AI cuts through the complexity to deliver the information your customers need wherever they are in their journey.
In addition to machine learning, developments in natural language processing for AI are likely to have an enormous impact on the contact center. Even today, customers calling contact centers often can describe their reason for calling in their own words – instead of choosing a number from a preprogrammed list – and interact with an AI to cut across the multiple business divisions to exactly where they need to be. That efficiency is one of the biggest ways AI impacts the contact center today and is one of the ways contact centers can expect to deliver on the customer expectations of tomorrow.
- AI Provides Actionable Business Insights
The explosion of data offered by technology enables businesses to make insightful decisions – if they can sort through the mess to find the value. That’s where AI comes in. Whether its call recordings, first-call resolution, forecasting accuracy, customer satisfaction, or another metric, AI is in a position to give contact center leadership the ability to make strategic, data-driven decisions that can accelerate the business. Google and Cisco are working together to deliver this service through AI to contact centers, and as a Cisco Gold Partner, Mindsight is ready to deliver on these exciting developments.
AI impacts the contact center of today – and the contact center of the future. Gartner notes in last year’s hype cycle for AI that the tools most likely to impact the contact center are at the peak of inflated expectations; however, Gartner also expects machine learning, virtual assistants, and conversational user interfaces to plateau in the next 2 to 5 years. If you aren’t thinking strategically about how to implement AI into your contact center, you’re already behind.
In the latest eBook, Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Care Success, we dive into how business can create a roadmap for the contact center that takes them from where they are today to where they need to be tomorrow. Are you ready?
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.