After years of talk, the contact centre industry is more serious than ever about overhauling work practices for the benefit of all stakeholders. Whether deserved or not, the contact centre has earned itself a less than perfect reputation, attracting considerable criticism. Customers often dread having to call one, fearing they will be subject to lengthy call queues, excessive time on hold, be passed around and have to repeat themselves, or even hung up on. And life inside the contact centre is not easy, with employee attrition estimated at between 30-45%, which is significantly higher than the average attrition in professional services (14%).  

Yes, the contact centre environment has evolved and improved over the years. Yet, they continue to be a source of customer frustration and criticism. For the past couple of years we have been hearing that AI in the contact centre will transform it – and it will become a customer experience centre. Until now it has been more talk than action. More wishful thinking than practical implementation. More theory than practice. But it is now all change ahead. 

Next generation of conversational AI for contact centres

There is a new generation of conversational AI solutions that are reshaping the contact centre. They are not in the mould of “what could be”, they are available for use today. These solutions do not replace humans, they are designed to support agents so they can do their job better and also better satisfy customers. 

AI can do some things better than humans

Getting the most out of the latest generation of conversational AI solutions for the contact centre is about using AI for what it does better than humans could ever possibly do. For example, using AI to access and process huge data pools enables the right solution/answers to be made available to agents to share with customers – and it does so faster and more efficiently than a human can.  AI can retrieve information at speeds that humans can’t match, and make it available to them instantaneously, not only speeding up ‘resolution’ times, but also meeting the ‘immediate’ expectations of customers. 

AI and agent well-being

Conversational AI is also effectively supporting agent wellbeing. Agents are having to deal with the many different emotional states of customers. Whether it is an angry or frustrated customer, one who is bereaved, a customer living with mental health issues – all of these interactions will take a toll on the agent. 

In addition to conversational AI listening and assisting agents in real-time, providing guidance during interactions, giving instant access to information so the agent can answer customer queries, which will help resolve issues faster and more accurately, it can also assess the ‘human condition’ of the agent. 

Conversational AI solutions can check that the agent is OK after particularly difficult calls, can automatically schedule a ‘break’ should it be necessary, and suggest or recommend support avenues should it be appropriate. The wellbeing of the agent is prioritised and proactive measures and interventions can happen to mitigate burn-out, fatigue and job dissatisfaction. The conversational AI solution can also assess the emotional level of the customer and schedule or immediately take any necessary follow-up and check-in actions. 

AI aids work fulfilment and productivity

Contact centre agent productivity and work fulfilment can also be improved by leveraging conversational AI.  With agents focusing most of their time and energy on customer interactions, they will enjoy a more rewarding work experience, leading to reduced attrition. This may include, for example, using conversational AI to automatically summarise a call, reducing the administrative workload. It can also rate the agent on empathy and communication, as well as list key takeaways and next step actions needed. 

Rich insights, value-adding actions

Conversational AI is also being used to provide rich insights beyond just statistical analysis which is in effect a one-dimensional view. Voice and text analysis in terms of content, context, meaning and sentiment can be extracted, within the boundaries of legislation, and actionable insights gained. This can lead to improved customer experience as well as helping managers make better informed decisions. 

The contact centre, for all its challenges and criticisms, has reached its tipping point. It has long promised to transform. There is no excuse anymore. The new generation of conversational AI solutions for contact centres have been tested. PoCs have moved into commercialisation. Those contact centres that continue to talk without conversational AI being leveraged to help the ‘talk’ will be left behind. 

If you want to hear more about how Creative Virtual is helping the contact centre industry transform then contact us. We’re all about creating better experiences for everyone.