David ChavezFebruary 11, 2021

3 Ways Contact Center AI is Changing Staffing

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has fundamentally evolved call center technology and the way employees work in the contact center. Conversational AI can record and transcribe voice interactions in real-time to help agents stay compliant and reduce after-call work. AI-integrated desktops include screen pops for quick access to relevant customer information and promotional offers. In other ways, however, the technology has thrown an unexpected wrench. We’re starting to see the tangible impact of AI on contact center staffing, and organizations need a way to manage this change.

Here are the three largest impacts we’re seeing, and how companies can keep up.

RPA Changing the Nature of Work

As AI offloads simpler customer service functions, the expectation is that humans will be able to effortlessly handle more complex interactions. Nemertes predicts that 74% of companies will have live agents only handling complex or specialized interactions by 2025 (compared to 58% today).

This requires seamless multi-media collaboration between agents, consumers, and subject matter experts across the organization. For example, an agent should be able to view the presence of a product specialist or billing manager and quickly ping them or even bring them into the customer conversation, regardless of where they’re located (on-site or remote) or what device(s) they’re using. Every person should be easily reachable, and all pertinent information (i.e. transcripts, videos, images, recordings) should be easily accessible and shareable to ensure an effortless user experience.

Work may also take longer to complete. Forrester reports that average handle time has been steadily increasing since 2013, and this is expected to continue. This will require organizations to rethink how they measure customer satisfaction. Consider Customer Contact Week’s 2020 Live Chat Benchmark Report, which found that companies that achieved a 90% or higher CSAT rating had a longer average chat duration of 11 minutes and 47 seconds, while organizations with lower scores had a chat duration of 8 minutes and 42 seconds.

Chatbots Raising the Stakes for Quality of Service 

AI technologies like conversational intelligence are designed to get smarter over time.  Humans must be able to handle the complex questions, dynamic processes, and emotionally charged interactions that occur when customers escalate from intelligent self-service to a live agent.

This could spark a major shift in how contact centers operate. For example, transitioning away from offshore agents towards those in locations that are closer to create more authentic connections. Using smart routing technology, brands can pair incoming callers with the next available agent who is closest in proximity (i.e. San Diego and L.A., Boston, and Providence) to deliver more empathetic, high-quality service. The challenge here will be capacity in specific regions as organizations become more meticulous about vetting and hiring.

Agent Engagement and Retention

Organizations are looking to overhaul the employee experience in contact centers to help enrich engagement and retain top performers, an initiative Forrester estimates could cost as much as $8 billion in 2020. Outside of salary increases, this comes in the form of investments in culture, conversational analytics (speech and text), training, gamification, integrated desktop tools, and more to help agents do a better job of serving customers.

Organizations need to hire and retain experienced agents who can handle the increasingly complex interactions happening in customer service, and that’s compelling them to pay more. Agent churn will become a grave concern as organizations start making pricier hiring investments. 

So, What Now?

Brands need to enable employees in the contact center to work in a way that’s personalized, intuitive, and seamlessly connected to create an effortless digital user experience that supports the best possible customer experience. Here are solutions you can start exploring to empower your agents in an AI-driven world:

  • A flexible, browser-based call flow scripting capability that defines inbound and outbound call flows and provides on-screen, step-by-step guidance to manage and guide customer interactions.
  • An open, rich media chat messaging capability for easier, faster, real-time collaboration between customers, contact center employees, and back-office functions.
  • An open, connected, and personalized workspace that brings together communication and collaboration apps (whatever agents need to make their day productive) in real-time through one single interface.
  • An open, customizable dashboard for middle to senior management that provides a holistic view of the customer journey, enabling faster and easier access to critical business insights that help drive timely decisions and corrective agent actions. 
  • Smart routing that leverages AI to better pair employees with customers and improve contact outcomes week-over-week.

Get more tips for using AI to optimize your workforce. 

3 Ways Contact Center AI is Changing Staffing

David Chavez

David Chavez is a Vice President in the Office of the CTO, responsible for Architecture and Consulting. Having 25 years of experience and holding 76 US patents, David is responsible for Avaya's award-winning and market-leading IP communications architecture and the creator of the Avaya Aura(R) architecture. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics from New Mexico State University and an M.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University, with some executive education from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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