2023 is quickly emerging as the year of the AI call center.
AI for the call center isn’t an entirely new concept. But, the intelligent solutions available to customer service leaders today are becoming more advanced. The days of clunky chatbots and basic AI algorithms are long gone. In their place, we’re seeing an increase in robust CCaaS solutions enhanced by generative AI, Large Language Models, and deep neural networks.
These technologies improve everything from customer call quality to employee productivity while minimizing operating costs for business leaders. But where exactly is AI having the biggest impact on the call center, and where is the market heading?
Here’s your guide to the state of the AI call center market in 2023.
The AI Call Center Market in 2023
Call centers have long thrived as environments fueled by innovation. Over the years, platform providers have introduced endless tools designed to boost productivity and enhance customer satisfaction. First, we saw the rise of the cloud, then contact center automation.
Now the AI call center generates the most buzz among business leaders. Gartner even found that conversational and generative AI solutions will accelerate contact center investment by around 24% in 2024.
According to Grandview Research, the market for the AI call center was valued at around $1.16 billion in 2021. It’s also expected to expand at a CAGR of 22.7% through 2030. The analyst suggests that increasing customer expectations for personalized, efficient, and omnichannel interactions drive the rising demand.
Grandview also notes that the rise of the global AI call center market accelerated due to numerous innovative technologies introduced after the pandemic. The development of quality assurance tools, generative AI systems (like ChatGPT), low-code platforms for building bots, and more have driven rising interest in AI solutions.
Moreover, an increase in companies adopting cloud-based contact center technologies has contributed to the market too. The cloud segment is expected to register the largest growth among AI call center technologies in the coming years as companies embrace agility, flexibility, and scalability.
The Biggest Use Cases for AI Call Center Technology
AI call center technology leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance and automate various CX functions. Notably, while
Notably, while modern AI solutions offer several benefits to omnichannel contact center strategies, many businesses are still focusing on the potential of AI in voice. Grandview Research’s study found the phone segment accounted for the largest market share (40%) of call center AI investments in 2021. So, what are the use cases for AI in the “calling” space?
1. Improving the Routing Process
One of the biggest trends in the AI call center landscape is the focus on more intelligent routing strategies. In 2021, the segment for predictive routing held a market share of 24%.
AI and customer service automation tools can significantly enhance the process of connecting agents to customers. A HubSpot study even found 90% of service reps think AI tools for routing improve the customer experience either somewhat or significantly.
With intelligent routing tools, companies can use AI to match customers to specific agents best suited to handle an issue. This technology relies on customer behavior profiles, allowing software to examine customers’ and agents’ communication habits and predispositions.
Used correctly, it can improve customer satisfaction, enhance employee efficiency, reduce the need for call transfers, and more.
2. Updating the IVR System
Most of us have already interacted with some form of AI in an Interactive Voice Response system. In the past, basic solutions allowed machines to record responses to specific questions for routing purposes. For instance, an IVR system can examine a customer’s language, ask for their name, and even obtain an account number before passing the caller on to an agent.
However, call center AI is having a significant impact on the value of this technology. One solution created by Humana with IBM’s data and AI experts helped the life insurance company to route more than 60% of over 1 million calls to self-service solutions.
The rise of interactive voice assistants makes it easier for companies to collect valuable information before an agent discussion and serve customers faster. The same tools can also reduce the number of calls agents need to handle by routing customers to self-service instead.
3. Conversational AI and Chatbots
Conversational AI is probably the most commonly referenced technology in the AI call center. Chatbots and virtual assistants have grown increasingly common in recent years. Innovators like Google even provide companies with tools to make their own generative AI assistants.
Chatbots are commonly associated with text-based communication channels, like social media, SMS, and web-based messengers. However, they can be omnichannel tools. Natural Language Understanding and Processing technologies have led to an increase in bots capable of responding to voice.
Bots can even be built into the standard call flow, providing customers with faster and more convenient ways to resolve common problems. Conversational AI doesn’t just deliver benefits to the customer experience either.
Conversational intelligence software can also create virtual assistants for agents, capable of listening to calls, providing discussion guidance, and delivering real-time coaching.
4. Emotional Intelligence and Personalization
Another growing use case for technology in the AI call center is the rise of emotional intelligence and tools designed to personalize customer interactions. HubSpot’s study mentioned above found that 84% of AI tools can analyze customer sentiment to improve the customer experience.
Tools for sentiment analysis built into the call center can track everything from signs of frustration in a customer’s voice to how often a rep interrupts a customer. These tools can then give feedback and guidance to agents throughout the customer journey, improving satisfaction levels.
The same solutions can provide behind-the-scenes insights into strategies that can improve the customer experience, leading to better business decisions in the future.
AI solutions with emotional intelligence can also use sentiment analysis to understand better what a customer is trying to accomplish. They can then guide agents on which products to recommend, what solutions to offer, and more.
Some solutions can even surface customer profiles from a CRM system when an agent answers a call, making it easier to deliver more customized experiences.
5. Unlocking Business Insights
An AI call center is perhaps one of the best tools a company can access to gain insight into opportunities for growth. There’s a wealth of information hiding in every customer interaction. However, manually extracting that data is time-consuming and complex.
AI solutions, working behind the scenes in the contact center, can use speech analytics to provide valuable overviews of metrics and KPIs. They can share insights into call times and waiting times, first resolution rates, and trends in customer sentiment.
Using natural language processing, businesses can record customer service interactions and instantly transcribe them in an easy-to-read format. This offers valuable insights into trends and helps companies remain compliant with data management standards in the contact center.
Some of the most advanced CCaaS solutions using AI can offer extensive customizable reports, and real-time dashboards, all powered by intelligence.
What Does the AI Call Center Mean for Agents?
Much of the rising interest in the AI call center stems from a focus on CX.
With real-time insights, intelligent routing, and automation, AI can reduce friction in the call center.
An AI-driven approach can, therefore, significantly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty while reducing operational costs for business leaders. However, it’s not just the customer that stands to benefit from the rise of AI call center software.
Ever since advanced solutions like generative AI began emerging, agents have worried about their job security. After all, many AI tools can now handle many agent tasks, like repetitive calls, routing, and data entry.
However, this doesn’t eliminate the need for a contact center agent. Even now, there are still complicated issues that AI can’t handle independently. Nearly 7 out of 10 customers still prefer speaking to a human agent over the phone.
The purpose of AI in the call center isn’t to replace agents but to improve the customer experience and agent experience simultaneously. It helps agents to be more productive, deliver more personally satisfying and engaging conversations, and improve their performance consistently.
Quick Tips for Implementing Your Own AI Call Center
Ultimately, it seems 2023 is the year of the AI call center. Virtually every prominent CCaaS leader is investing in its own intuitive AI tools. Solutions are emerging to help companies build bots and generative AI experiences without coding knowledge. Even smaller businesses are getting involved in the trend.
According to Grandview, the large enterprise segment dominated the AI call center technology market in 2021. But smaller businesses are taking note. The small and medium enterprise segment is expected to show some of the fastest growth in 2030.
Of course, the key to implementing an AI call center effectively is the right strategy. If you’re planning on investing in this evolving landscape, make sure you:
- Define clear goals: Determine precisely what you want to achieve with AI. This could be reducing call volumes, improving customer satisfaction scores, or boosting agent productivity. The right goals will guide you toward the right AI solution.
- Prioritize integration: Ensure your AI systems integrate seamlessly with your existing call center software and supporting tools (such as the CRM). End-to-end integration will allow for more advanced workflow automation and data insights.
- Support your agents: Provide agents with the proper training and support to fully embrace the new AI solutions in your contact center. Introduce solutions with a focus on improving the agent experience, as well as CX results, to drive adoption.
Above all else, remember that the AI call center landscape is still evolving. Be ready to adapt in the years ahead. Gather the right metrics and analytics to make the right upgrades in the future.