AI in the contact center is not a new concept, but it has often been viewed with trepidation by agents as something that is coming to replace them entirely. While AI is an incredible and rapidly evolving technology an agent-less future is nowhere near on the horizon just yet.
How AI in the Contact Center Actually Works
Myth: Artificial intelligence (AI) is human competition
At this point AI-enabled virtual agents are not equal substitutes for human agents. While the technology is advancing rapidly, the truth is that it’s just not quite there. Some situations simply call for the human touch and always will. While it’s true that through machine learning Ai technologies do get “smarter” over time, AI will always need human input. Whether in the form of accurate data entry or configuring workflow logic, artificial intelligence needs instructions for how to work and make decisions.
Right now, AI in the contact center functions in a way that supplements the human mind. It’s an incredibly useful tool to help agents have successful conversations with customers. It can be practically implemented in both inbound and outbound contact centers to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
This is because AI eases the burden of agent work load and can help alleviate some of the stress agents feel due to the personal nature of their job.
Leveraging AI in the contact center should be centered around providing support to your agents to better serve your customers.
What are the limitations to AI in the contact center?
If you decide to utilize AI in your contact center there are limitations to where it is useful.
Transactional and easy to predict tasks are the positions AI is best suited to playing on its own. These tasks are routine and can be carried out systematically. Other tasks in the contact center require skills that are uniquely human like EQ, or thinking on the fly when a customer issue hasn’t come up before.
Because AI-enabled virtual agents take time to refine techniques and amass the vast quantities of data that drive decision making, sometimes a bot or virtual assistant will feel clunky to the end customer. Anyone who has asked Alexa to play one song and gotten something completely different can attest that AI enabled virtual agents are not actually viable replacements for live agents.
That’s not to say that AI can’t be leveraged for support in other areas of the contact center. AI can make sure agents are prepared going into each conversation by gathering information prior to transferring to them. It can provide contextually aware information to provide support in stressful situations and it can take out the drudgery of some necessary tasks.
Here we look at a few practical examples for how AI technologies are being leveraged in the contact center to better support agent tasks.
A streamlined experience benefits not just customer satisfaction but also your agents. The smoother your processes upfront, the better the experience for everyone.
Virtual Agents provide advanced IVR automation. The strength of data your IVR can gather is boosted by integrating AI. Interacting with virtual agents gives your customer a personalized, intelligent, and natural experience leading up to agent interaction thanks to advances in natural language processing and wider data sets.
When the handoff from virtual to human agent is made, virtual agents gather contextual, situational, and personal details of the query prior to the agent even saying “hello.” This helps to streamline the customer experience in the following ways listed below.
Fully informing the agent
AI can present your agents with information about this current interaction as well as past interactions, account information, preferences, etc. This information can be configured to overlay agents’ desktops to better serve your customer, empowering agents to provide personalized and informed service consistently.
AI can make sure callers are routed to the best agent for their inquiry the first time around. It can analyze data about your agents and correctly match each customer with agents possessing qualities best matched to the situation. Maybe one agent excels at smoothing over a bad experience while another has specific knowledge about technical information. Where individual agents excel is an important consideration when routing customer calls. AI takes the guesswork out of this process and makes data-backed routing decisions.
Contextual data presentation for a better agent experience
Communication is something you work on your entire life. Getting it just right takes practice. The complexities of Communication are even more evident in contact centers. While AI can sound very human it still currently lacks a certain natural finesse.
When fielding complaints the emotional nature of the caller demands agent attention. An AI- enabled chatbot simply won’t do. No matter how sophisticated the software, some conversations need to be had between two people.
This is not to say AI isn’t helpful during these conversations. AI can act as a silent third party on a call and offer suggestions to the agent in real-time. AI acts as a support system which the agent can lean on when necessary.
By employing machine learning AI can draw on each conversation to offer better contextual suggestions. As data sets improve so too does your agents’ ability to gracefully handle stressful situations.
The key to excellent customer support is consistency. Repetitive tasks drive agent agent morale down and eat into precious time that could be spent handling another call. When you automate the drudgery out of your agents’ workflow, you give them an opportunity to be engaged in their work. Agents that feel engaged in the contact center are 15% less likely to leave.
AI is an amazing tool that helps agents do their jobs better. A relationship with AI does not have to be contentious. When properly leveraged agents’ jobs become less stressful and more engaging.