How to get the most out of AI for your contact centre

How to get the most out of AI for your contact centre

Today’s contact centres are looking to newer, more complex technologies to boost customer satisfaction and improve agent productivity. And one of the most promising technologies on hand is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI is based on the principle that human intelligence can be defined in a way that a machine can easily mimic it and execute tasks. From chess-playing computers to self-driving cars, AI is being used in a range of industries today, including contact centres.

Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI that allows systems to learn from data without being programmed explicitly, and it underpins the bulk of AI concepts used in contact centres today. It’s worth noting contact centre forecasting engines have been using ML concepts for many years before the term “AI” was adopted.

While the technology powering AI might be complex, accessing and using AI within your organisation is not.

Modern AI tools are generally affordable, simple to manage, and easy for your customers to interact with. With the normalisation of SaaS, AI-enabled solutions are available on subscription or consumption-based pricing models. This significantly lowers financial and technology-related challenges for organisations to overcome when adopting AI, compared to past years.

What does this mean for you? The time has never been better to experiment with AI than it is now, no matter the size or complexity of your contact centre.

Happy agents, happy customers

AI within the contact centre provides benefits for your customers and agents. A win-win!

Some examples of how AI can help contact centres include:

  • Improve customer satisfaction by providing them with instant answers on-demand via bot technology, and increasing personalisation by providing agents with customer context on every interaction.
  • Increase revenue by automatically qualifying and prioritising leads; suggest products that may be of interest to a customer based on past behaviour; even matching specific customers and agents based on compatible personality traits, resulting in more converted sales.
  • Onboard and enable new team members faster: Empower new agents to support customer interactions faster by surfing relevant knowledge base articles and recommending the “next best action” based on real-time interpretation of customer intent.
  • Increase agent productivity by recommending the “next best action” based on real-time interpretation of customer intent.
  • Increase employee engagement by managing repetitive and basic tasks, allowing agents to focus on higher-complexity and higher-value interactions.
  • Provide real-time meaningful insights by analysing the content of customer interactions to identify customer sentiment, potential issues, and competitor insights.

Other examples include workforce optimisation using AI-based forecasting, and matching customers with agents who are most likely to service them based on compatible personality traits.

If you’re considering leveraging AI within your contact centre you’re not alone.

According to NTT’s 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmark Report, over one in five organisations say that robotics and AI are exceeding expectations. And Deloitte’s 2021 Global Contact Center Survey found 79% of contact centre leaders plan to invest in AI technologies.

For customers, the sentiment is much the same, albeit with a few caveats. Forrester found 63% of customers are happy to be served by a chatbot, as long as there’s an option to escalate the conversation to a human.

It’s safe to say the use of AI will quickly become the norm within contact centre environments. Australian and New Zealand organisations are familiarising themselves with this technology now, integrating it into their broader business strategies and identifying opportunities to leverage AI in new ways. While private sector organisations are taking the lead, the public sector is not far behind, with numerous federal, state, and local government services already using AI within their contact centre technology stack.

Getting started with AI

It can be tricky to know where to start with AI. Which tools are going to suit you, and how do you make the most out of your investment? We’ve worked with many organisations to help them find their best use cases for AI and adopt the best fit technology. We’ve seen what works (and what doesn’t).

Here are a few important things to consider when choosing and implementing AI technology:

Choose carefully
With more contact centres moving to the cloud and adopting new core contact centre platforms, it’s key to ensure the solution of choice is AI-ready. This could be through bespoke capability, or ideally, integration support for specialist AI services such as Google CCAI, Amazon CCI, or Microsoft’s Azure AI.

Leading CX platform vendors, such as Genesys, Twilio, Amazon, Nice, and Salesforce, provide their own AI capability and support integrations with external AI services such as those mentioned above, ensuring both simple and complex AI use cases can be solved.

 

Start small
Focus on the simple queries or tasks that get asked often. What are the most common calls or enquiries your contact centre receives? It’s worth analysing your wrap/disposition trends and speak with your agents to find out what these are if you’re not sure. Agents will be able to guide you on this too, particularly if this data is not available in your current platform or reports.

Your agents’ most common challenges are also a great place to start. What types of interactions do they struggle to resolve quickly and easily? What are the most complex tasks they have to perform on behalf of customers?

Often the simplest AI functions can have a significant impact on CX and your contact centre’s performance. PhonePe, India’s largest digital payments platform, is a great example of this, whereby 80% of inbound customer enquiries are now handled by an AI-bot which can provide instant answers to common queries, such as account statuses and balance. For the remaining 20% of interactions, PhonePe’s agents can provide more effective and efficient service with AI, providing real-time customer context and guidance on next best action. While PhonePe has enjoyed the organisational efficiencies this brings, so have their customers with CSAT scores rising significantly since the launch of AI.

 

Review and refine
AI-based solutions are not a set-and-forget technology. Use customer feedback mechanisms, inbuilt reporting, analytics and agent feedback to check the performance of your AI services. If you’re getting lots of agent hand-offs from the chatbot, then find out why. It’s a good indication that something within your chatbot tool or process isn’t working optimally.

Before embarking upon significant adoption of AI or other core platforms within your contact centre, we always recommend having a defined customer-centric strategy in place. This provides the perfect reference point when assessing the suitability and desired outcomes of AI technology, ensuring the solution you implement delivers maximum benefit to your customers, agents and organisation as a whole.

AI offers a multitude of benefits and unlimited possibilities for organisations seeking to improve customer experience. The specific opportunity AI presents in the contact centre is the ability to further increase the effectiveness and engagement of the contact centre’s most valuable resource – its (human) agents – resulting in happier staff and customers.

Think your contact centre could benefit from AI technology? Contact us for our complimentary AI-readiness assessment to help you discover the best use cases for AI in your organisation.

 

About the Author
Simon Shanks is General Manager at Synergy Enterprise Solutions. Along with a team of CX technology experts, Simon helps businesses achieve a personalised, consistent customer experience across all communication channels. Prior to this, Simon spent 15 years leading customer support and customer experience teams from the ground floor, putting him in a unique position to understand the challenges faced by contact centres today.