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Generative AI Can Improve Contact Centers

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As the customer experience landscape continues to evolve, generative artificial intelligence stands out as a transformative force, as outlined in a new CCW Digital market study.

“Not simply a way to automate rote contact center processes, generative AI promises the opportunity to elevate nearly every facet of customer contact,” Brian Cantor, CCW Digital’s principal analyst, says in the report. “From strengthening self-service, to fostering personalization, to streamlining operations, to elevating agent experiences, generative AI may change the way leaders approach many long-standing contact center tasks, challenges, and objectives.”

Enthusiasm is rarely lacking within the contact center community, Cantor notes. “What is more elusive, however, is a certain pathway to results. And as the generative AI hype continues to grow, savvy leaders will seek more concrete direction on which use cases to pursue, which strategies to rethink, and which outcomes to measure.”

Among the best practices for genAI should be identifying the top challenges that get in the way of productivity, the report suggests.

Contact center leaders know that they need to remove inefficiencies, but 83 percent say that the typical agent still spends too much time on simple and repetitive customer interactions, according to Cantor, who notes that this wasted time means poor efficiency and poor customer experience.

If they are tied up on tasks that could be done with AI, agents are likely to be disconnected during customer interactions so they will struggle to focus on customer concerns, he says.

These inefficiencies, even the small ones, can have a major impact on contact center operations. GenAI can enable agents to streamline many of these repetitive tasks and begin to work toward a more personalized style of support.

GenAI can also enable contact center managers to have full visibility into agent performance, enabling them to provide the necessary and personalized training their teams need.

GenAI can also speed up retrieving information from knowledge bases, enabling agents to better meet customer expectations for receiving answers quickly.

Another best practice endorsed in the report is outlining the standards for top-performing agents. Contact center leaders need to first understand which traits and skills set the top performers apart. Knowing exactly what customers expect out of interactions is also critical, as is empathy.

Eighty-eight percent of contact center leaders are working on training their agents on soft skills and empathy to produce stronger human connections with customers, according to CCW’s research.

GenAI will free up agents to spend more time providing customers with comprehensive support, it says further.

Other key findings from the report include the following:

  • The overwhelming majority of contact center leaders believe self-service needs to be more personalized and more resolute. Seventy percent are confident genAI can help achieve these objectives.
  • Eighty-six percent of contact center leaders plan for genAI investments, and more than half of those will meaningfully act on those plans this year.
  • Eighty-one percent of contact leaders expect genAI to have a meaningful impact in their centers, with 35 percent confident it will live up to the loftiest of hype. Only 6 percent fear genAI will have little to no effect on the customer contact function.
  • Although they feel it has clear benefits for the agent experience, contact center leaders are keenly aware of employee reservations around genAI. The majority acknowledges that agents are worried about potential job loss, a reduction in the human touch, learning curves associated with new solutions, and the adverse impact AI might have on customer sentiment (and thus the tone of conversations with these customers).
  • Contact center leaders are specifically confident in genAI’s ability to foster self-service that is more contextually relevant and capable of acting based on customer data.

“By helping brands intelligently automate cumbersome tasks and more quickly zero in on customer and employee needs, generative AI solutions should absolutely improve operational efficiency,” the report says. “By fostering more personalized self-service and more consultative agent support, the solutions should also lead to higher-caliber experiences.”

However, to achieve these benefits, contact center leaders will need to establish the right objectives, identify the right use cases, develop complementary strategies, and mitigate potential risk factors, the report adds. 

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