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Will AI Kill Contact Centers? How Contact Center Managers can Plan for the Future

Tech magnates like Elon Musk and Bill Gates have cautioned the threat of super intelligence and AI.   While the reality of super intelligence may be a few decades away, contact centers are experiencing the now of this technology.  ChatBots are being used in every industry vertical-retail, automotive, financial services, even healthcare-to replace humans in contact centers.  AI is expected to take over around 38% of US jobs by the year 2030.

Does the rise in AI mean contact centers should immediately start preparing for doomsday? “Not necessarily”, says Vee24’s Priya Iyer.  “Don’t simply tune your contact center for high volume per operator and low average call duration.  If you tune your contact center for efficiency and low cost, then your agents will just be a Bot.  That’s exactly what AI will kill.  Make them more human and use all their human attributes to provide the best sales and service online.

Regardless of whether a company is big or small, there are several steps a contact center can take to leverage the AI trend without self-destructing.”  Iyer offers the following key ideas for contact center managers to act on immediately:

1. Text Chat will be the first to be replaced with ChatBots.  While Text Chat is very efficient and allows you to service multiple customers at once, most companies have built up a repository of chat transcripts that can be used to train Bots.  If you are a contact center, it is time for you to move more of your team to video based live engagement.

2. Customers who feel emotionally connected to businesses buy more products, use more services, provide vocal support, and pay more attention to company advice.  Only humans can create a sense of relationships and trust with your customer.  Video Chat empowers your contact center teams to build a trusted advisor relationship with your customer – something ChatBots simply cannot offer.

3. 98% percent of customers (in a study done by Accenture) reported that they would likely make another purchase from a company if they had a good experience.  Video Chat consistently gives you 90+% NPS and CSAT ratings.  Text Chat has less than 60% and ChatBots even less.  Moving your CC team to Video Chat gives you the metrics you need to convince management of the value.

4. Incorporate co-browse and screen-share technology into your phone based contact centers. This will not only digitize and bring you to the new age, it will really super-charge important metrics like first call resolution and average handle time (which measures the total time to resolution, not just the average time per engagement) which are still weak for ChatBots.

5. 2-way video chat allows your agent to see your customer, with their permission.  The customer can also show the agent the faulty product, a design they like or a furniture they are trying to match, using their webcam.    Enable your agents to “visit” the customer’s environment to solve problems or provide recommendations using 2-way video chat.

6. Remember, while happy customers only tell 4-6 people, an unhappy customer will tell between 9 to 15 people about their experience.  2-way video chat allows your agents to see your customer.  When dealing with unhappy or anxious customers, it can be invaluable to your agents to actually see the customer and express their empathy both verbally and visually.

The more human your contact center engagements and interactions are with the customer, the more likely you won’t be killed by the AI trend.  While AI technology can provide efficiency and cost savings, human interaction create value like no other.  People are social beings, and ultimately nothing can ever truly replicate the experience of connecting with another person.

BBC News by Kevin Rawlinson:  Technology – Microsoft’s Bill Gates insists AI is a threat.