Artificial Intelligence: Ready for Primetime in the Contact Center
This blog is authored by Robin Gareiss, President and Founder, of Nemertes Research. Ms. Gareiss leads Nemertes Digital Transformation research. She also is a widely recognized expert in the communications field, with specialty areas of VOIP/UC, collaboration, and managed/hosted/cloud communications services.
IT and business leaders rate Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the No. 2 technology they expect to transform Digital Customer Experience (DCX), behind customer success analytics tools. In fact, those transformations already have begun.
In Nemertes’ 2018-19 Digital Customer Experience research study of 697 organizations, we found companies already are relying on AI to transform their customer experience. Companies that use any form of AI have seen incredible success metrics, including the following:
- 95% increase in new customers
- 80% increase in transactions handled by self-service apps
- 45% improvement in customer ratings
- 39% growth in digital sales
- 25% reduction in agent turnover
AI Hype Isn’t All Hype
Still, I frequently hear customers say: “AI is all hype,” to which I respond with documented ways companies are using AI today and finding huge success. It’s true, however, that there is some hype around AI. But that is driven by those who understand its promise and quickly articulate yet-to-be proven scenarios where it would help automate functions or improve processes.
The important thing is to begin planning for AI, if you haven’t already. Start simply with basic functions. Once those are working well, you can use AI to handle more complex customer inquiries or agent assist functions. But don’t make the mistake that many have, thinking “AI replicates human logic, therefore replaces the need for humans.”
That’s a dangerous assumption.
You still will need people to analyze, adjust, and act upon the data sets.
Today, 44.6% of organizations are using or planning to use AI for customer interactions or analytics. They’re using AI for the following functions:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) – Understanding speaking or writing languages and being able to interpret those into meaningful statistics or actionable recommendations
- Virtual agents/chatbots – Computer-aided, virtual robots that address basic questions and functions to free human agents to handle more complex ones.
- Predictive analysis – Algorithms that predict customer behavior based on a variety of pre-programmed or learned factors, such as past behavior, regional trends, and behavior of other customers with similar demographics.
- Customer sentiment analysis – Algorithms designed to detect human emotion, and make decisions based on it.
- Skills-based routing – Advanced rules that change in real-time, based on the AI algorithm, to govern how to route customer interactions based on skills of agents available and circumstances causing customer interactions at that time.
- Agent Performance Analytics – Complex analytics evaluating pre-determined metrics of contact center agent performance, typically used to train or motivate agents and to improve customer experience by making decisions based on those analytics.
- Real-time speech analytics – Tools that listen to customer’s verbal content to analyze next steps for customer service agents, typically using agent screen pops.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Software and bots used to automate various mundane, rules-based processes within a broader business process aimed at reducing staffing costs and human error, while saving human time for more complex requirements.
AI is finding a comfortable home in the contact center. It can measure customer sentiment and success, engage customers, assist agents to serve customers, and much more. In my next blog, I will review how organizations are leveraging AI in the contact center and provide a roadmap for success.
Meanwhile, to see more data analysis and learn about how AI is improving the customer experience, read the latest issue paper: There’s Nothing Artificial About It: AI and analytics document significantly better digital experiences for customers. And register for our upcoming webinar on April 18: Learn How a 95% Increase in Customer Wins is Possible with DCX+AI.