I’m Sick Of Hearing About AI. I Want To See Its Impact

By: Brian Cantor
“What’s good for the customer is what’s good for the business." “Happy agents yield happy customers.”

We in the customer contact community love our clichés.  Our love for adages can, however, have a negative consequence.  We sometimes become too enamored with the linguistic appeal of the cliché and ignore what it takes to actually realize the concept.

One of the best examples concerns our obsession with “AI is for transactional matters, while humans are for complex ones.”

At face value, the statement is unquestionably accurate.  Automation technology is all about performing tasks for which efficiency or precision are more important than emotional nuance.  Given our constant pressure to “do more with less” (yes, another cliché), this vision for AI could not be more relevant.

Unfortunately, we are not doing everything in our power to realize this potential impact.  We are neither identifying the tasks for which AI makes sense nor actually implementing AI at these key junctures.

If we aren’t even mastering that phase, it should come as no surprise that we’re not empowering our agents to take on deeper, more complex work.  Since they’re still handling so many transactional tasks, they don’t really have time to engage in deep conversations. And even if they do have the time, they do not have the tools or training to make nuanced connections.  Today’s contact center employees are still “transactional support agents.”

Confirming this gap, a CCW Digital study confirms that fewer than 30% of organizations believe they are productively using AI within their customer experiences.  Considering 87% believe AI should meaningfully augmenting agent productivity, the statistic is rather sobering.

As we look toward the rest of 2019 (and beyond), let’s work to make this particular cliché a statement of reality rather than aspiration.  Let’s use automation to truly augment contact center performance.

Now, it would be incredibly hypocritical for me to end a blog about a hollow cliché with a paragraph of preachy rhetoric.  Instead, I’m going to recommend some actions:

Start automating tasks – right now
Turnkey AI solutions exist for the following functions
  • Order handling, deliveries, claims processing, appointments, and other self-service tasks
  • Agent empowerment including “answer recommendations,” authentication, CRM automation, knowledge base optimization, and learning
  • Operational automation, including routing, scheduling, and forecasting
  • Intelligence automation, including speech analytics, data mining, sentiment analysis, social media monitoring, feedback mapping, and journey mapping

Measure “return on automation”
By diving deep into factors like call volume, self-service utilization, process completion rate, accuracy of forecasting, and agent productivity rate, we can understand the impact our AI investments are having on performance.

Train for automation
On the topic of clichés - don’t let “be careful what you wish for” apply to your contact center.  Revamp your recruiting, onboarding, training and coaching strategies to cultivate agents who can handle high-value work.  This ensures your team will be ready to shift from simple transactions to complex engagements.

Make the most of CCW Vegas
Numerous speakers will present clear, actionable blueprints for AI strategy.  Our exhibit hall will meanwhile be rich with vendors who can tailor an AI tool to your specific operational needs.

To learn more, read the full report on Augmenting Contact Center Automation or request a copy of the report sent to you directly.