Want to Thrive in the Age of AI? Sabio Disrupt Reveals the Secrets to Success

Sabio Disrupt 2024 March
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“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do” was the opening address of the 8th Sabio Disrupt Conference in London, delivered by an AI-powered Steve Jobs avatar.

What followed was a packed line-up of talks and panel discussions, showcasing how Artificial Intelligence is set to (hopefully) delight and surprise us all – and most importantly, how contact centres can embrace disruption and continue to wow their customers.

So how best to do this? See what the experts had to say…

Disrupt Yourself or Someone Else Will Do It For You

Sabio Disrupt March 24  Brands
A packed line-up of talks
and panel discussions

In an era where the pace of innovation is unprecedented, with waves of disruption – from mass automation, the cloud, and the digitalization of the world (e.g. the Internet of Things), you’ve got to think like a disruptor!” as Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer at Sabio, explained.

This boils down to accepting that the only constant is change and that, if anything, this rate of change is increasing.

Also, accepting that every product and service will be disrupted, so you need to disrupt yourself or someone else will do it for you.”

Did you know? Alan Turing dreamt up the idea of computers that think for themselves. A year on from the 2023 launch of ChatGPT and it’s not passed the Turing test just yet – but experts predict that AI will pass the Turing Test in 2029.

Think About the Potential of Avatars

After showcasing the power and possibility of avatars, through AI-driven conversations with Barack Obama and Steve Jobs, Stuart Dorman also noted the potential these avatars have to enhance store and check-in experiences – as a creative extension of your CX offering.

Adopt a ‘Fail Fast’ and ‘Keep It Simple’ Mindset

Success will also come from embedding a ‘fail fast’ and ‘keep it simple’ mindset in your contact centre, as Dr Brett Hewitt, Engineering Manager at Zuto, said:

avatar of barack obama
Avatar of Barack Obama

“Adopting a ‘fail fast’ mindset allows you to roll out new initiatives to the frontline and find out if things are working very quickly.

“This is where the relationship between the contact centre and technology teams is vital.

Not only this, but ‘keeping it simple’ comes down to having a solid user experience (UX) and the confidence to know that Artificial Intelligence isn’t always the solution.”

As Daniel Seaborne, Managing Director – UK & South Africa at Sabio, added, “AI will not solve all of our problems.”

Embrace Technology as a Facilitator for a Better Customer Experience

As Daniel Seaborne, Managing Director – UK & South Africa at Sabio, continued,Technology has become a facilitator – it’s not about replacing people.”

For example, to deliver customer service in multiple languages, as Andras Bacsa, Product Director, Omnichannel & Conversational AI, Transcom, explained: “AI enables agents to deliver a better experience on a daily basis.

AI translation technology has allowed our advisors to speak different languages and the technology is getting more and more mature every year.

Sabio Disrupt March 24 Brands 2
We’ve been switching from a
reactive to proactive service.

For customers, the use of AI is a win-win solution, as they’d rather have the additional delay of a few seconds for the translation than wait in a queue.”

It can also help in delivering a more proactive customer experience, as Fiona Lind, Digital Product Manager, Sweaty Betty, explained: “We’ve been switching from a reactive to proactive service.

“It’s exciting to see what you can do when you tackle the top drivers of contacts (for example, 60 to 70% of your volume), as then you can start to deliver proactive service, and put it on the road map to make everything quicker.

The key is not to stop, but also not to do too much at once. Be specific about where you want to go and what you want to do.

Get Started Sooner Rather Than Later

You don’t have to have the complete end-to-end journey mapped out straight away either. The secret is to get started, as Laura Stevens, CCaaS & CRM Product Manager at Awaze, added:

Understanding the customer is key, and AI can be an enabler for us to do this quickly. It’s exciting to figure out where to go, but you’ve just got to start. It’s about accepting that it’s going to go at a great pace and accepting the disruption.”

Embrace a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Never stop improving either, as Helen Wilson, Chief Operations Officer, Atom Bank, explained in the panel discussion on CX: WHO’S WINNING AND WHAT’S BROKEN.

“We view every contact as service failure demand and use the insight to change the customer journey. There’s always something to tweak and improve! For us, success comes from keeping the contact centre very small. We just have 35 agents covering a 7-day week.”

image taken at live conference of stage and audience

It can also help to have a clear framework in place when thinking about what good looks like, as Leigh Hopwood, Chief Executive Officer, Call Centre Management Association (CCMA), explained:

“Culture sits at the very heart of success, but it’s equally important to consider strategy, customer, operations, colleagues, commercial, engagement, innovation, impact and commercial elements on your pathway to higher performance and operational excellence – as outlined in The CCMA Contact Centre Standards Framework.”

Top Tip – When deploying AI solutions, be sure to partner with those who are already thinking about transparency, ethics, and particularly regulations, because they are coming, e.g. the EU AI Act.

Empower the Frontline to Bring the Customer Experience to Life

Success is also about empowering the frontline, as Joe Quinlivan, Head Of Customer Care at Gousto, explained: “We know our agents have an important role in bringing the customer experience to life too.

“One of the ways we do this is to have a dedicated Slack channel where agents can share any customer feedback, as this gives us a channel to pass any fresh ideas into the development team that can be actioned on a tight turnaround.”

And how do you keep improving and innovating in the best possible way? You must know your customer, as Heather Drinkwater, Head of Operations, Benenden Health, explained:

“When focusing on continuous improvement, you always have to be asking yourself ‘Is this the right thing for your customers?’ and it’s not just about the big projects either, it’s about doing and celebrating the little things that drive positive changes too.”

Analyse Your Data in AI-Driven 3D Models and Move Beyond Traditional 2D Analysis

How you are using data is absolutely key, as Don Haddaway, Founder & Director, Artsiam, explained:

“There are vast amounts of data available, but industry leaders are moving towards a much more evolved use of digital data – away from traditional spreadsheets and towards AI models.

By looking at 3D models of data instead of 2D data, you can make connections, see the sentiments, and what’s driving changes beyond the obvious. And this isn’t blue-sky thinking, these tools are here now!”

Embrace AI to Give Agents More Confidence in Their Roles

AI can also be used to give agents more confidence, as Nerys Corfield, Director, Injection Consulting, shared,

Sabio Disrupt March 24 Graph
AI can also be used to
give agents more confidence

“For the frontline, AI can offer guidance and support that act as a sat nav to reach the best outcome for the caller.

It also protects the agent from that cold fear of being in a situation where they don’t know the answer, by intervening with real time support.

And why is this so important?

Because agents who don’t feel confident or properly supported in their role will likely leave, so managers really need to invest in new tools and give agents the confidence they need for when times get tricky – for everyone’s benefit.”

Think About How Your Agents’ Roles Will Evolve to Become Higher Skilled

It’s also important to consider how your agents’ roles will evolve in the age of AI and take proactive steps to adapt accordingly, as Jason Roberts, Founder & Director, Appropriate Consulting, described:

As the nature of contact centre work continues to evolve, you’ll see a tighter, more focused pool of work coming in, but with higher emotional risk.

This is where the focus will need to shift from handling volume to better managing the customer outcome – by working with your agents on empathy, emotional intelligence, and resilience, with an emphasis on retaining a talent pool of higher skilled agents.”

You Need to Get Your Colleagues Excited About AI

Sabio Disrupt March 24 stand
So much new technology ready to go

With so much new technology ready to go, the biggest blocker is very likely your colleagues, so this is where you need to focus your efforts, as Martin Hill-Wilson, Director, Brainfood, explained:

“Your role as a disrupter is to get your team excited about something new, starting with understanding what you’re talking about and being able to describe its potential use cases for your contact centre.

If you don’t understand what you’re talking about, you can’t disrupt anything!”

As Rob Scutchings, Chief Technology Officer, Sabio, added: “We’re reaching a point where the CX we deliver will only be limited by our budget and imagination! The challenges of CX haven’t changed, but the technology is now ready with solutions to tackle them.”

Don’t Forget to Involve Your Team Leaders on the AI Journey

AI is so exciting in our industry, but it’s not very often that we think about how this is used at a team leader level, as Martin Teasdale, Founder & Host, Get Out of Wrap, explains:

“We all recognize how important team leaders are to the success of any operation and how we deliver all of our services to our customers, but we haven’t quite nailed what that means for team leaders in their day-to-day.

We know that they’re super-busy, we know that they do a lot of repetitive tasks. We also know that they deal with their team and all of their teams’ queries and their development and coaching.

They are repeating a lot of the same things, so I think the application of AI both for team leaders and for their agents can only make their jobs easier. We’ve just got to think about how best we deploy it.

One thing I do know is team leaders want us to start involving them more in how we are best going to utilize AI to improve their world and therefore their ability to coach and lead their teams to deliver excellence to customers.”

Those Best Able to Adapt Will Be the Most Likely to Thrive

The final word? The message clear to all was to be experimental, make sure your people are prepared, and that your processes are flexible – as those best able to adapt will be the most likely to thrive.

And as Nina Schick, Author, Entrepreneur and Speaker, so aptly said in her closing keynote address, “AI is already woven into the fabric of our lives… We’re only at the beginning.”

Author: Jo Robinson

Published On: 11th Mar 2024 - Last modified: 5th Apr 2024
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