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AI's increasing role in contact centres

10th Sep 2020
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Bots based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been drastically transforming contact centres for the last few years. However, the global pandemic has accelerated that need and virtual assistants, like voicebots and chatbots, will continue to assume more and more responsibilities as their capabilities increase.

Market research leader Gartner even goes as far as to predict that these advancements will replace almost 69% of the managerial workload by 2024. “AI will electrify the productivity tools these workers use, bringing them to another level of power and accuracy that become part of the way they work and redefine expectations…and the level of quality they can produce,” writes Craig Roth, research VP at Gartner, in a recent blog post. “At that point, taking away their AI would be like a craftsman having their electric woodworking tools replaced with manual ones.”

The AI-supported drive for automation will reshape all aspects of customer care, which will alter the way contact centre directors organise their operations. The need to onboard and train employees remotely and digitally has risen dramatically recently, especially as remote work environments are now the norm in a COVID-19 world.

Customer expectations have doubled over the last few months and contact centres the world over are having to adjust. It’s therefore critical that they have the best tools available so they can pivot and deliver their best performance to clients in real-time. AI is here to stay and revolutionising the way contact centres are working. Here at TTEC we have already seen more productive and engaged agents, and a significant increase in CX and operational efficiencies.

For instance, AI can assist IT and cybersecurity teams by looking for patterns in how data in the cloud is accessed to report anomalies and predict security breaches. In vertical industries such as manufacturing, networked devices are being used to capture data from the supply chain as well as product design, production, development, and delivery to optimise workflows and increase efficiency. In finance, investors are using AI tools to analyse historical trends and predict when to buy and sell securities and execute trades.

As more companies invest in AI technology and resources, it’s less a question of how, but when to automate more parts of the organisation. This can be a risky approach if companies fail to consider other factors, such as how it affects the customer relationship. Organisations need to think carefully about where they do or don’t want to automate their customer interactions. What’s more, the goal should not be to interact as often as possible, but only in valuable situations. Having a conversation with a customer who just wants to reset a password is not too valuable. 

However, when customers are at a critical part of the customer journey, whether it’s negative or positive, the last thing a company should do is automate the interaction. Instead, organisations should enhance the interaction with AI and help the agent be more informed and/or empathetic. 

Consider retention. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, which is why savvy businesses focus on building a loyal relationship with customers, in addition to acquiring new ones. By processing and analysing CRM data, contracts, and other data points, predictive AI tools can identify the customers most at risk of leaving and alert agents to act before it’s too late. And by building on past results, prescriptive systems can pull insights from predictive functions to offer specific, personalised actions at key decision points. 

For example, if an agent was alerted that a valuable client was at risk of churning, a prescriptive function can inform the agent not only who to contact and why, but also how based on similar situations. 

Studies have shown that while most customer relationships start off as purely transactional, the quality of their experience determines if they will return. Every interaction point leaves an impression of that business. And companies that seek to automate as much of the customer relationship as possible to reduce costs and increase efficiency, may lose out to competitors that maintain a human touch.  

TTEC recently had its RealPlay™ AI-powered training technology named "Disruptive Technology of the Year 2020" by Customer Contact Week. The revolutionary proprietary RealPlay leverages the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI), voice recognition, machine learning technology, responsive game development, and data visualisation to simulate the same real-world customer scenarios (good and bad) agents experience before they take live calls from real customers.

Simply put, the companies that aren’t ready to leverage AI will be left behind. AI represents a potential threshold moment for businesses and people where advances in technology can significantly impact our personal lives, in addition to business operations and the way decisions are made. And these changes are already happening. Although AI is eliminating some jobs, it can also be an invaluable tool that makes employees more effective. Whether companies find value in AI depends on whether they think critically about where it fits in their plans and goals, and not the other way around. 

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