Inside the AI Automation Revolution

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This blog was written by a human …

Are you sick of blogs about artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact centre yet?

I’m not surprised. AI is the topic of conversation – news reports, vendor marketing and trade-shows where AI is the only topic, prompting a ‘fear of missing out’. And there are a deluge of new AI companies/apps springing up online seemingly every day.

But instead of adding to the hype and losing our heads, let’s breathe, stand back a bit, and consider where AI fits in the spectrum of automation in the contact centre.

A Spectrum of Sophistication

Automation in the contact centre exists on a spectrum of sophistication, usually taking input, doing some processing and producing a result:

  Input Processing Result
Hard-coded response e.g. DTMF button press None e.g. join ‘support’ queue
Robotic process response e.g. CLI e.g. database lookup, analyse total spend e.g. join ‘valued client’ queue
Artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) e.g. conversation transcript e.g. content/ sentiment analysis e.g. agent prompts, next best action AND the result is fed back in as input (so the machine ‘learns’ and gains accuracy over time)

Generative AI and ChatGPT

Generative AI, particularly ChatGPT, is the latest headline-grabbing iteration, currently spawning hundreds of new apps/websites every week. There is no point in listing what’s currently available; by the time you have read this, it will be out of date.

We are currently just scratching the surface of the possibilities of prompt engineering. But as this area grows, use cases will continue to emerge.

And ChatGPT still has problems to be wrestled with, which leaves it requiring a human in the loop, acting as a human guardrail. For instance:

  • Bad actors – developing ways to use tech developments for villainous ends
  • Hallucinations – untruth presented as truth (and fed back into the system)
  • Data security and copyright infringement – private/protected customer data being fed back into the system
  • Successful training on domain-specific data.

The result? We think ChatGPT will not replace agents any time soon, but it may replace some agent tasks, e.g. after-call summaries. This will allow agents to spend more time on what they are good at: empathetic human interaction.

Making AI Work for You

So, what is the way forward?

Focus on the potential benefits. Move from ‘outside-in’ thinking (‘Hey, that’s cool’) to ‘inside-out’ (‘How can we use it to reduce spend, or improve CSAT? What problems/ pain points could be helped with a little automation?’).

Broadly, for AI to be of benefit to your contact centre, it must either:

  • help reduce headcount (and therefore salary bills) by providing customers with better self-service options
  • make it easier/quicker for
    • agents to provide the help customers need
    • new agents to become proficient
    • supervisors to identify what can be improved
  • complete tasks more quickly, accurately, or efficiently than agents/supervisors.

Practically, there may be a trade-off between these priorities. Gains in one area may outweigh losses in another. The trick is to provide an appropriate balance of satisfaction for your business.

Adopt AI With Care

Many contact centres would like to augment their existing system without rip and replace. So, choose tools and approaches that allow incremental transformation, and assess whether the gains brought by the tool are worth the time and effort spent in adding it.

Some other recommendations:

  1. Use AI as co-pilot/collaborator to supercharge human agents to do the best job they are capable of. Take what humans are good at (empathy, ideas) and marry it with what machines are good at (repetitive tasks, sifting through and summarising an enormous volume of data).
  2. Be transparent about using AI, whether customer- or agent-facing
  3. Engage a partner/vendor who understands the space
  4. Expect to be surprised. The gains might turn out to be in unexpected places.

AI Our Way

We have been in the AI business since we engineered our predictive dialer algorithm in the mid-1990s, which takes all inputs from all current states and runs simulations in milliseconds to calculate/re-calculate the optimum dialing rate.

And there is much AI already embedded in other processes, e.g. our multisession, multichannel blending (intraday automation).

We are specialists in core contact centre functionalities, which are designed to be able to integrate with any 3rd-party tools in a composable cloud environment. So rather than competing in the new AI arms race, we offer our customers choice, via two future-proof opportunities:

1. to augment and enhance with any tool they wish, including any new generation AI tool, via our comprehensive APIs.

2. to interface with AI processes via our no-code agent scripting product and present feedback, prompts, etc within the agent desktop.

Are you ready for the future? The AI revolution is here.

Author: Guest Author

Published On: 1st Aug 2023
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