Originally published in MyTechDecision
Generative AI technology in contact centers is changing the customer experience for good and companies are reaping the benefits.
The contact center industry is booming and for good reason — businesses are catching on to the transformative impact that a high-velocity contact center can have on their bottom line. Emerging technology is making contact centers more effective than ever before, and more importantly, helping to change their historically negative perception.
According to Statista, the global contact center market is expected to grow to 496 billion US dollars by 2027. This growth can be attributed to a variety of factors (such as increasing use cases, new technology, an increase in remote work, etc), but perhaps the primary reason is that businesses have realized that contact centers serve as the front door of a business, and are often the first point of contact for potential new customers or existing ones. There is a renewed focus on improving the contact center experience, as a singular interaction with a contact center agent can make or break how a consumer perceives a brand.
In the past, contact centers have been perceived as a challenging experience for consumers. Calling into an organization’s support center could take hours, including multiple transfers, challenges with language barriers, accidental dropped calls, and unresolved questions. Consumers today are demanding more from their contact centers and, in good time, technology has evolved to change this dynamic. New contact center tech is increasingly leaning on natural language processing and AI to rethink how businesses interact with consumers — and it’s making a profound difference.
With this in mind, it’s important to know what contact center technology is available, what the benefits are and what is best suited for individual use cases.
Understanding AI Technologies in Contact Centers
The AI Revolution is upon us (with AI being used to write code, create pictures, generate responses, etc.), and the desire for high-quality AI technology has proliferated to the contact center. According to a recent Customer Contact Week market survey, AI is a major priority for companies when evaluating contact center platforms. Fortunately, there are a variety of AI technologies already in place, and it’s up to decision makers to decide which is best for their business.
Some of the most powerful contact center technology is aimed at making contact center agents more efficient and effective in their roles. Often referred to as “Agent Assist,” cutting-edge contact center technology will guide agents throughout an entire call with a customer. Generative AI and advanced natural language processing technology can even analyze a call in real time and prompt agents with hints and tips on how to best respond to a customer. Guided workflows can be applied to help the agent walk a customer through a specific process, such as placing an order. It can also identify sentiment and tone to know if a customer is getting angry, sad, or is satisfied with their experience, and can guide the agent on how to best respond to their sentiment.
Additional contact center offerings are focused on managers. Historically, it has been a challenge for managers to properly work with and coach hundreds of agents — a task that becomes near impossible in a remote work setting. Modern contact center technology can provide managers with unprecedented visibility into agent performance and behavior. This includes alerting, real-time online coaching, and workflow optimization. These capabilities help identify the crucial elements that can empower performance improvement among agents.
Furthermore, chatbots (often referred to as virtual agents) have become even more popular. Often occurring as a pop-up on a website or app, chatbots enable consumers to get their questions answered without having to phone a contact center. Chatbots typically focus on simple, straightforward questions (such as location, hours, or login issues).
Additionally, new AI tools have made it easier for organizations to identify which use cases are best suited for chatbots, and create highly customized bots for their customers to interact with. Not only does that increase the effectiveness of the chatbots, but it also improves the customer experience by only automating what makes sense.
Contact Center Technology Benefits
Unsurprisingly, advanced contact center technology can have a profound impact on agents, managers, and customers alike.
Agents are empowered to be more productive, and can better respond to customer requests and get through calls more efficiently. Real-time guidance empowers agents to say the right thing at the right time, and reduces the amount of time spent searching for answers to certain questions or challenges.
Managers also benefit because not only do their teams of agents perform at an elevated level, but they also have increased visibility into how their agents are working and communicating with customers. This enables them to properly coach agents and ensure that they are interacting with customers as best they can.
Of course, the primary beneficiary of this newfound productivity is consumers. Calling into a contact center becomes much less frustrating for consumers when their questions or challenges are quickly resolved, and are immediately transferred to the agent best fit to respond to their needs.
From a business perspective, modern contact center technology leads to happier customers, which can have a tremendous impact on brand reputation. It can also prompt increased sales (as agents become incredibly more efficient and effective). In fact, according to Forrester, increased effectiveness in the contact center through technology can lead to billions in sales.
Tips on Choosing the Right Platform
There are a variety of worthy contact center organizations, platforms and technology providers available that all have the ability to transform how a contact center functions. Choosing the right one will really come down to industry needs and evaluating the technology that will have the biggest impact on a business.
For example, contact center technology can be tremendously beneficial to organizations like airlines who are constantly interacting with customers and navigating last-minute changes. Healthcare and insurance industries also lean on contact centers to navigate an influx of appointments, calls and sensitive-questions. Almost every industry can benefit from an effective contact center, but the technology needs will vary.
When evaluating different offerings, consider what will make the most tangible impact immediately and always think customer-first.