Contact Center AI: A Reality Check

The Truth about AI in the Contact Center

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Contact Center AI A Reality Check - CX Today News
Contact CentreInsights

Published: May 6, 2024

Rebekah Carter

Crucial for generating leads and sales, cultivating customer loyalty, and building revenue, the contact center is essential to any company’s strategy for growth.  

As such, many contact center leaders have rapidly adopted innovative technologies over the years to improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently the most exciting new innovation in the contact center.  

By 2023, 62% of contact centers were either investing, or planning to invest in contact center AI. Additionally, one Bright Pattern study found that only 39% of companies hadn’t experimented with new developments in generative AI technologies.  

Used correctly, AI can make agents more productive, empowered, and efficient at their jobs. It can also automate various tasks, such as answering routine customer questions. However, as adoption of AI technology grows, it’s important for companies to recognize the strengths and limitations of the technology. Here’s what you need to know in 2024. 

AI is Augmenting, Not Replacing Human Agents 

The rise of increasingly sophisticated AI solutions in the contact center has led to some concerns that intelligent tools might eliminate the need for human agents. However, this is far from the truth. Chatbots, virtual assistants, and similar tools can certainly automate simple tasks, such as handling routine inquiries in a contact center.  

However, this doesn’t make human agents redundant; it simply means they have more time to focus on issues that require human expertise. By automating routine tasks, AI ensures agents are available to handle tasks that demand empathy, creativity, and various specific skills.  

“AI has been a huge benefit to our partners and customers by helping them improve agent performance as well as CSAT scores. According to Michael McCloskey, CEO of Bright Pattern, “We are heavily invested in AI, and believe it delivers great benefits to our customers. We provide functionality such as transcription and summarization, sentiment analysis, real-time agent assist for suggestions, interaction analytics for intent analysis, and auto-scoring for quality management. These features greatly enhance the agent’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience.” 

Additionally, AI can act as a guide and source of support to agents throughout the customer journey. Intelligent tools can use data analysis, natural language processing, and machine learning to analyze customer information and suggest solutions or next steps to agents. This means employees can leverage the resources they need to solve problems faster, and more effectively.  

The Focus Should Be on AI-Human Collaboration 

AI isn’t a way for contact centers to reduce their reliance on human agents. It’s a way for companies to empower their employees to be more effective in their roles. Human beings and AI solutions have very different skills and abilities. AI bots, for instance, are excellent at tackling repetitive tasks that don’t require a great deal of human input. 

They can use data to rapidly route customers to the right agent based on their intent or sentiment, quickly summarize text and conversations, highlighting action items for employees, and even process data at speed. However, they’re not capable of coming up with truly creative ways to solve problems on their own. They can’t show genuine empathy to customers during difficult conversations, and some can even struggle to understand certain dialects and terms.  

The goal for contact centers implementing AI should be to create a seamless experience, where AI augments and supports live agents, acting as a constant source of assistance and guidance. 

AI Can be a Cost-Effective Investment 

Today, many contact center leaders are struggling with limited budgets. They need to make their resources stretch further in a difficult economy, which means every innovation they invest in needs to have a clear return on investment. For some time, implementing AI in the contact center was extremely difficult for smaller businesses, with limited development resources and budgets. 

However, innovators in the contact center landscape are making AI solutions more accessible. Leading contact center vendors like Bright Pattern infuse AI into their existing ecosystems, making it simple for anyone to unlock the benefits of things like natural language processing, sentiment analysis, intelligent routing, and agent assistance bots.  

These tools, pre-integrated into a flexible contact center environment in the cloud allow companies to adapt and evolve at their own speed, keeping their budget in mind. They can also assist companies with making more intelligent decisions about resource allocation, offering insights into the strategies that will help companies to reduce costs and increase revenue.  

The Benefits are Real but Limitations Exist 

Already, 21% of contact center leaders believe AI helps them to improve customer satisfaction, boost retention rates, and increase sales revenue. The right AI technologies can deliver significant benefits to organizations and their customers, reducing wait times, helping to personalize interactions, and enhancing workplace efficiency.  

However, even the most advanced AI technologies have their limitations, and challenges to consider. AI solutions built with natural language processing technology can still struggle to understand nuanced language, leading to frustration among customers.  

They can suffer from “AI hallucinations” which cause them to confidently share incorrect answers to questions, harming the employee experience. Additionally, these tools can present a host of data, ethics, privacy, and compliance concerns when they’re not implemented correctly. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to have a comprehensive strategy in mind for implementing AI in a way that protects their employees, data, and customers.  

The Future Relies on Continuous Improvement 

The rise of generative AI and large language models represented a significant turning point in the arena of contact center AI. However, the work involved in leveraging AI as effectively and efficiently as possible is far from over. Today’s AI solutions aren’t static pieces of technology, they’re dynamic solutions that evolve consistently based on the information and data they can access.  

Machine learning and NLP capabilities give AI tools the resources they need to become more effective at understanding input and customer intent, making them into more powerful solutions. However, even the most advanced AI can’t be entirely self-taught.  

The best technologies need human oversight, and collaboration between teams of implementers and users, to ensure they can continue to develop and grow. A focus on consistently optimizing and improving your AI technologies, while eliminating potential risks and compliance threats, will be crucial to the future of an intelligent contact center. 

AI is Here to Stay: Make the Most of your Technology 

It’s impossible to ignore the incredible impact that AI technologies can have on the modern contact center. However, while this technology offers a range of benefits, like any innovation, it needs to be implemented correctly to ensure you get the best return on investment. 

A strategic approach to implementing secure and compliant AI solutions that support, rather than replacing your agents will be critical in the years ahead. Additionally, businesses will need to ensure they’re prepared to invest in constantly enhancing and optimizing their solutions.   

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