AI and the Contact Center: Understanding Opportunities and Challenges

Call Center AI, contact center artificial intelligence

… developing “rules of dialogue” informed by cross-functional inputs, including customer experience mandates and outcomes, brand attributes, operational invest and HR, just to name a few. They define when the gates between the bots, the agents and the organization are opened or closed for the ideal customer journey

Challenges Surrounding AI in Contact Centers

AI has the power to transform consumer engagement. Even though there will always be a place for voice in the contact center, consumers are generally looking for a faster, more frictionless experience. AI, when deployed correctly, has the potential to deliver this.

Traditionally, a live agent’s voice is ideal in complex, escalated or empathy-intensive scenarios, or when the customer is not as accepting of technology or using internet tools.

Let’s consider the following example. If you are an insurer and your brand is defined by understanding customers and offering personalized service, any shift to AI – from a contact center perspective – will need to be managed carefully. The challenge here is that businesses need to ask themselves what they stand to lose if they effectively give up the “human touch.” If customer retention, advocacy and lifetime value are what risks being jeopardized, then a human-robot balance must be extensively mapped out.

Contact center managers and technology providers also need to consider how to facilitate the seamless exchange between a virtual agent and a live agent to manage the fallout of unsuccessful digital conversations. With this inevitability, there’s a need to deliver an omni-channel solution which can transfer between the virtual and living agent seamlessly (and possibly undetectably) so the customer experience is not disjointed.

The Future of AI in Contact Centers

Knowing when to use AI will be an ongoing iterative process that must be managed by the right individuals within an organization. Because AI should be regarded as a customer experience tool, it should represent a collaborative engagement between customer relationship management, operations and IT. Careful planning and sensitivity must be exercised to avoid jeopardizing the customer journey.

In the near to medium horizon, increased adoption of AI in customer interactions will be inevitable. As a result, we need to be careful to avoid a consumer backlash. As learning and implications are better understood across the discipline of customer engagement, AI has the potential to impact the number and type of human interactions in contact centers significantly over the next few years. In our view, current trends may see contact centers achieve at least one-third AI-based interactions by 2022 yet with a transformation component that will see the role of live agents change out of prescriptive, transactional activities to manage deeper customer journey activities in concert with AI.

Ross Sedgewick joined Unify in 2002 and handles content creation, messaging and insight development relating to the digital workplace. Ross is passionate about humanizing the intersection of people and technology and understanding how users engage and interact. Prior to joining Unify, Ross has held marketing, product, channel and sales leadership positions at IBM, Delano Technologies and Siemens Enterprise Communications. Follow Ross on LinkedIn.

Lisa Campbell joined Unify in 2013 and handles several positioning and messaging functions for Unify’s customer engagement solutions and orchestrated communication services. Lisa enjoys challenging market assumptions and boundaries to uncover disruptive ways to connect people, data and things. She’s also an active gamer, photographer and landscaper. Lisa’s expertise and appetite for marketing is demonstrated through nearly 25 years of working with industry-leading brands such as Siemens, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Nortel and Ford. Follow her on Twitter @LisaUnify or on LinkedIn.

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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.

  2. Avatar Arthur Diggs August 27, 2019 @ 10:55 pm

    Good Job Lisa and Ross! In today’s business world AI is making its way very rapidly creating both opportunities as well as challenges for companies to adopt it. 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 human intervention. AI encompasses an intricate weaving of emotional intelligence, machine learning, system of things and customer analytics to provide a better and efficient result within a short span of time. I have come across many AI tools such as CSAT.AI, Salesforce Einstein, MaestroQA which are helping companies in this regard.

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