AI and the Contact Center: Understanding Opportunities and Challenges

Call Center AI, contact center artificial intelligence
Unify's Ross Sedgewick

Ross Sedgewick

Unify's Lisa Campbell

Lisa Campbell

By Ross Sedgewick and Lisa Campbell, Unify

Channel Partners Insights logoFor most contact centers, artificial intelligence (AI) adoption is still in an embryonic stage. Companies like Google and Microsoft are in a race to become AI-first, so there is plenty to suggest this next leap in consumer engagement models will become commonplace quite soon. The slowest adopters will ultimately take the hardest hits to their bottom lines.

Yet contact center employees and the industry at large are apprehensive about the impact of AI on service levels and jobs. Current research in the United Kingdom by the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice indicates that as many as a third of all jobs may be lost to AI in the ensuing decade – with contact center work being among the most vulnerable to this development. Last year a study by the progressive think tank warned that jobs generating a third of annual pay in the UK were at risk of being automated. Without giving a timescale, it suggested that middle-income jobs such as call-center staff, secretaries and factory workers were likely to bear the brunt.

However, because of significant commercial gains and changes to customer engagement models, AI is poised to become far more mainstream in contact centers, producing both challenges and opportunities for organizations as a result

And, for modern-day contact centers, regulation is prevalent – significantly impacting the current market. Big data, data lakes and analytics are fed by consumers who are often data “pragmatists,” or unconcerned about sharing their data. GDPR regulation, along with recent controversies surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, means front-line agents will need to work harder to engender consumer trust, especially when capturing personal data. They will also need to have much greater awareness of how their organization intends to use data in case customers have questions about privacy.

Embracing AI Opportunities in Contact Centers

Given organizations’ increasing prioritization of employee engagement, we hope to see a more committed collective agent workforce moving forward. With the goal of prompting an increased average length of service, this may lead to more positive impacts on the customer experience because the brain trust of relationship context that remains can be leveraged by both the organization and the customer.

AI and data utilization present exciting opportunities for all contact center technology providers. AI encompasses an intricate weaving of emotional intelligence, machine learning, system of things and customer analytics. Given this wide scope, AI use cases within contact centers can be quite varied. A primary reason for using AI in the contact center is to quickly serve transactional, predictable interactions in the most accessible way, while reducing the requirement for costly (or unnecessary) human intervention.

When you delve into the inner workings of any contact center, customer communications can typically be categorized into types, many of which can use AI to deliver an automated response. Provided that a powerful tool exists that accesses the knowledge library or uses machine learning, AI can prove quicker and more effective than a human.

Considering studies where AI is currently outperforming doctors and lawyers, contact centers need to determine how AI and agents can work in harmony to manage all customers across all communication types in an effective way. This is accomplished by …

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  1. Avatar tony rich June 12, 2019 @ 7:34 am

    so good to see this technology really making a difference but is more impressive how human these Bots appear to be – long gone are the days of the automated robotic response.

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