New Data Shows How Business Leaders Think Gen AI will Change Contact Centers
Contributed article by Aaron Schroeder, Director of Analytics and Insights at TTEC Digital
As the hype around generative AI – and AI in general –
rapidly approaches the one-year mark, many businesses still aren’t quite sure
what to make of it. Is generative AI actually mature enough to unlock
unprecedented efficiency and productivity, or does the reality of what it can deliver
today still fall short of the grand vision businesses are being sold?
The overwhelming sentiment seems to be to wait and see. Earlier
this fall, Gartner’s latest AI hype cycle confirmed this mindset when it placed
generative AI at the very top of its peak of inflated expectations. Yet, within
this broad category, there are exceptions where the gap between generative AI
hype and reality is not as far apart as it may seem.
The contact center is a prime example of this.
In an environment so hyper-focused on conversations between
brands and customers, the conversational abilities of generative AI tools built
on advanced large language models are an immediate game changer. Paired with a
set of growing challenges like evolving customer experience expectations,
limited IT budgets, and an explosion of customer service channels, it’s clear
contact centers desperately need to find new ways to become more efficient – or
risk losing out to competitors.
A recent TTEC Digital report suggests businesses agree AI
can help them solve these challenges. Many contact center operations have already
invested in AI to infuse differentiated value into the customer experience, and
2024 is poised to bring an explosion of new AI investment.
With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into these two
observations from the report.
Observation #1: AI is already deployed in many contact
First things first. AI is not new in the contact center. In
fact, some of the leading contact center operations teams have already been
using AI for a number of years to help automate simple tasks. What is new is
explicit investment in AI as a tool to support a variety of contact center
What do I mean by that? Until recently, AI adoption occurred
behind the scenes, embedded in existing contact center platforms and workforce
management tools. For example, maybe a contact center has been transcribing
customer conversations and mining those transcriptions for topic trends or
automating certain aspects of the agent experience simply by “toggling on”
features in their current Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform.
As a result, our assessment of AI investment has focused on
ad-hoc deployments such as sentiment analytics (34% of respondents),
speech-to-text (29%), and desktop automation (20%). Organizations have
generally not taken the time to spell out clear goals for AI or establish clear
guardrails for its usage. This is where CX leaders have the most room for
growth as they prepare for a more intentional wave of AI adoption.
Observation #2: New AI investment is focused on
generative AI use cases that support CX at the point of conversation.
As contact centers plan for generative AI, they’re taking a
more strategic approach. While nearly every application of AI is set to see
growth in 2024, our assessment found that four use cases are poised to take the
- Proactive knowledge management
- AI-generated responses
- Post-interaction summarization
- Language translation
So, what can we take away from this? We’re seeing contact
centers decide to focus their efforts on AI-enabled CX transformation at the point
of conversation with their customers. They want to solve questions like:
- How can we help agents to answer better, faster,
- How can we better segment customer conversations
between live agents and virtual agents?
- How can we speed up post-call agent responsibilities
to allow agents to quickly move to new customers?
- How can we engage more efficiently with global
In a modern CX environment where the quality of the customer
experience can determine customer loyalty, satisfaction, and more, generative
AI offers a new way to directly support these high-value touchpoints and build
a customer experience that stands out.
How to Use AI to Create Your Customers’ Next Best
If our assessment is any indication, AI-enabled experiences
are the next frontier in CX – which means AI could soon become a key
differentiator for those organizations that find a way to use it to deliver the
experiences customers crave.
Here are a few recommendations to jumpstart your own AI
journey at the point of conversation:
Find your AI target areas with value chain
mapping. If your organization already uses customer journey maps, take a
look at those customer journeys as a starting place to identify which gaps currently
exist. Ask questions like: Where are customer conversations occurring? What are
the most common conversations about? How can your organization maximize these
interactions? With outcomes in mind, it can become easier to decide which use
cases are worth exploring.
Get your data in order. Data privacy,
security, and quality were rated the top barriers to entry when our assessment
asked respondents what was standing in the way of their AI adoption. This
should come as no surprise. After all, poor data coming in means poor insights going
out. Before you put AI to work, prepare your data first. For each AI
application, make sure that you have activated the right data sources and that
the LLM you are using to support generative AI initiatives has been fine-tuned
to reflect your brand’s industry, key topics, and customer experience use
Move quickly to deploy pilots – then focus on
testing and measurement. AI is advancing rapidly, so it’s going to be
important to test, grow, and evolve in real-time, over time. Hoping to
implement AI once and see consistent, strong results in perpetuity is simply
not realistic. At the same time, waiting to implement until all the possible
applications for generative AI have been solved means it will already be too
late. Most of your customers won’t wait around long enough for you to catch up.
Instead, start building AI-enabled
experiences now and focus on continuous improvement as technology and customer expectations
evolve. Not only will this help your operation unlock benefits right now, but
it will also prepare your CX team to quickly introduce new AI applications that
can inspire your customers’ next best experience over and over again.
Aaron Schroeder is director of analytics and insights at TTEC Digital, one of the largest
global CX technology and services innovators. The company delivers leading CX
technology and operational CX orchestration at scale. TTEC Digital’s 60,000
employees operate on six continents and bring technology and humanity together to
deliver happy customers and differentiated business results. Download the State
of AI in the Contact Center Report here.