Are You Ready for the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Contact Center?
Founder & CEO, Creative Virtual
The media buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) is
still swirling, as is confusion around how AI can – or can’t! – be used to
reach your business goals. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype. For some that
means approaching AI projects with inflated expectations, and for others that
leads to a skepticism about it all being a passing fad. In the contact center
industry, this confusion is compounded further by the rapidly changing
expectations and communication preferences of customers.
do customers really want?
Customers want a quick, easy and painless way to get the
information and support they need, and they want options to choose the channel
that works the best for them in that moment. That’s certainly a tall order. The
expectations don’t stop there. Customers are comparing the experience they have
with your organization with all their
other customer experiences, not just with those in your industry. That means on
the customer experience front you’re competing with the Amazons and Apples of
the world as well as your direct competitors.
The evolution of the call
center into the contact center was
spurred by the widespread adoption of communication channels such as email and
social media and new technologies such as live chat. Organizations are now
dealing with more customer contact channels than ever before, adding new ones
like messenger apps (Facebook Messenger alone had 1.3
billion monthly active users at the end of 2017) and
voice assistants (including Amazon’s
Alexa and Google Home) while traditional options like the
phone are still important for customer support.
does this mean for the contact center?
In a 24/7 digital world, it’s impossible for
organizations – even the world’s largest enterprises – to support all those
channels with human agents alone. The good news is that customers don’t expect
to always engage with a live agent for information and support, and a growing
number actually prefer not to have to speak with a human unless they have a
complex issue or query. However, customers do expect to receive consistent and
reliable information regardless of the channel they use and whether they
self-serve or interact with a customer service representative.
This means that the old model for contact centers and
customer service isn’t going to cut it anymore. Organizations that haven’t
already started implementing digital transformation initiatives around AI, automation
and customer self-service need to act now to avoid being left behind. It’s
essential that the contact center be a key part in these initiatives to avoid
creating silos that will damage the customer experience.
should contact centers place their focus?
When it comes to developing and implementing digital
initiatives and AI projects, contact centers should focus on three areas:
knowledge management – There are huge benefits to using AI within
the customer experience space, but it requires a solid foundation in knowledge
management. For example, tools such as AI chatbots, which are increasingly
important for delivering instant customer service, can only give accurate
responses if they’re backed by a knowledgebase with accurate content. The
contact center is becoming the center of excellence for the knowledge used
across customer support channels, and organizations need to put the necessary
tools in place to facilitate that change. Using a single knowledgebase for
virtual and live agents creates consistency across channels and allows
organizations to more easily keep content up-to-date and accurate.
chatbots and live agents – The future of customer engagement lies
in humans and machines working together in harmony, bringing together automated
and human support to create the seamless, omnichannel experience customers now
want. Integrating your self-service chatbot or virtual agent with
human-assisted channels like live chat or callback allows customers, and their
conversation history, to be seamlessly passed from virtual to real agent. Using
virtual agents in the contact center to support live agents makes it quick and
easy for them to find the information they need to help customers via phone,
live chat, email, social media, etc. When agents know they always have the
information at their fingertips, the focus moves from trying to retain
knowledge to building better
relationships with customers.
AI and human input – While pure AI is making a positive impact
in analyzing data and making sense of vast amounts of information, it’s not the
right solution for providing customer service and support. The foundations of
successful chatbots and virtual agents lie in the control of the response
given. A hybrid approach of machine learning and human curation of content
allows the chatbot to continually improve based on the way it is being used
while also enabling companies to maintain control over the reliability of
responses. Combining human input with machine learning creates dependable
self-service solutions and gives organizations the control they need to comply
with industry standards and regulations.