Looking Ahead: Five Contact Center Trends to Know and Use in 2019 (Part 3)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a familiar trending topic. In our e-book, Contact Center Trends You Need to Know 2019, it’s included among the most important trends contact center leaders should consider for optimizing performance in the new year. Let’s talk about what AI can and can’t do for your contact center.
In 2019, expect a shift in the conversation from AI as a silver bullet to replace the live agent to a tool to support agents and enhance customer experience.
Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 86 percent of their relationships with a company without interacting with a human. That’s certainly a strong endorsement of the potential power of AI, which can quickly find patterns in data, parse language and adapt to changing data. AI is already used to power contact centers’ self-service options and can empower agents to better handle and resolve challenging issues.
For example, when your contact center’s agents are spending increasing percentages of their time on the phone searching for relevant information instead of resolving customer issues, AI can drive the tools and context they need to support customers more quickly and effectively. Throughout a customer interaction, it can guide and prompt the agent with next-best actions. It can also boost efficiency and customer experience by routing calls based on agent experience and expertise.
Leverage Its Power But Prepare for Possible Pitfalls
When used strategically, AI can clearly improve contact center operations and the customer experience. However, contact centers are finding that AI isn’t a plug-and-play, set-it-and-forget-it technology. Training can be difficult and, if not well-executed, the result can be a source of customer frustration, outweighing AI’s benefits.
To avoid this, develop and communicate a detailed strategy and plan for how to best use AI and then thoroughly train your agents. AI can be leveraged to “learn” to respond to common, Tier 1 customer issues, then connect to live agents when necessary or requested by customers. Once AI is strategically implemented into your contact center, customer inquiries directed to agents will likely be more complex as AI-driven self-service handles more general questions, making thorough training essential.
The greatest benefits of AI come in leveraging it as a complement to, not a replacement for, well-trained live agents. Striking a balance through a live-agent experience powered by AI is the winning combination for agents, operations and customers. The best preparation for this is a cloud-based contact center with the flexibility to integrate AI technologies as they develop.
Michelle Burrows is Chief Marketing Officer at Serenova, where she leads the company’s global marketing strategy, brand development, communications and demand generation. Prior to joining Serenova, Michelle was Vice President of Marketing and Analytics at Comcast Business, leading the customer loyalty contact center. Prior to Comcast, she served as Vice President of Demand Marketing for inContact (NICE inContact) and held key leadership positions at Rally Software (CA Technologies), Verint Systems and Genesys Conferencing (West Corporation).