How contact center AI helps customers and agents

Contact center AI is helping forward-thinking firms to navigate the 'never normal' and unlock the full potential of their organizations.
4 December 2023

Actionable insights: contact center AI helps operators on multiple fronts, with benefits for staff and customers.

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• Contact center AI can make training contact center staff easier and more efficient.
• Using AI analytics, managers can more effectively guide agents.
• There is a thriving ecosystem of contact center AI providers to fit companies’ needs.

If you’ve hopped on a Zoom call lately, you’ll notice how these days, online meeting platforms offer much more than just video telephony. Features such as real-time transcription, sentiment analysis, content summarization, and presenter coaching are useful additions to business meetings. But the technology has much broader potential and is transforming other sectors too. In fact, it’s being used to deliver contact center AI, helping both customers and agents have a smoother, happier day.

Agent guidance and analytics

Providers report that contact center AI can dramatically speed up the resolution of customer queries. For example, Awaken Intelligence finds that having software to guide agents – helping to provide the right response to every call, email, and chat – can cut the time required by 50%.

It’s in everyone’s interest to find the right answers quickly, and having contact center AI tools keep track of events means that callers don’t have to repeat themselves when it’s necessary to bring another agent into the conversation.

On-screen prompts are valuable in making suggestions to agents based on the information that’s been gathered so far. Real-time agent assist features have become a game-changer in terms of supporting staff and delivering better service to customers.

Other win-win opportunities include using voice biometrics to streamline security screening. Rather than relying on a handful of security questions, contact center AI tools can use a much wider range of signals to provide fraud detection automatically.

Staff are better protected, and genuine customers get the help that they need much more quickly with fewer interruptions.

Contact center AI – scalable and efficient

Contact center agent guidance and analytics have existed for decades. However, what’s different today – thanks to the performance boost given by large language models, which can be further fine-tuned using sandboxed industry-specific data – is how scalable and efficient the process has become.

Getting the right message to customers, faster, not only streamlines operations and allows firms to respond to more calls, emails, and chat messages – it improves customer satisfaction too. And the importance of having satisfied customers cannot be overstated.

Sentiment analysis gives insight into the tone of calls and whether agent emotion is positive, negative, improving, or worsening over time. Contact center managers can zoom out to see how operations are performing as a whole, as well as drill down to remedy individual issues.

What’s more, the broad sentiment categories can be subdivided to pinpoint whether participants were angry, made broken promises, confused, or had to apologize – to just scratch the surface of what contact center AI is capable of.

Visualization tools such as word clouds – showing the most popular topics and phrases – give managers an instant view of conversations between an agent and customer, without having to read through long transcripts.

And when managers do need to look at what was said in more detail, green and red highlights can rapidly reveal positive and negative sections within the text and show influential words in bold.

Training opportunities

The data generated using contact center AI contains a wealth of information on customer likes and dislikes, and companies such as Twilio – which acquired Segment, a data platform a few years back – have shown how this helps firms to better engage with clients.

Analytics can also help staff develop their skills and become better contact center agents. For example, voice analysis tools can report on the time spent talking, listening, speech rate, and occasions when customers and staff were speaking at the same time.

Known as ‘overtalk,’ it’s no surprise to learn that having people speak at the same time is less than ideal. However, capturing these events and advising team members on how to reduce the amount of overtalk is a great strategy for improving the customer experience and making life much less frustrating for agents.

Having contact center AI identify the most common issues lets operators optimize agent onboarding training and better prepare new staff. AI can be deployed for skills assessment, and to make sure that trainee agents are hitting script objectives.

Also, contact center AI systems make it easier for supervisors to know when to lend a helping hand. Systems can keep track of how active calls are progressing and alert senior team members if a customer is sounding frustrated or whether the tone of a conversation is deteriorating.

Systems give supervisors the option of listening in and messaging advice. Team leaders can also speak to their agents during a call, to offer in-ear coaching tips that help staff resolve issues for themselves.

Contact Center AI - the agent's friend?

Contact Center AI – the agent’s friend?

Advances in voice analysis and the capability of AI systems to identify customer intent are making it possible to fully automate common contact center tasks, leaving human agents free to resolve more complex issues.

Re-thinking the front desk

Tech firms such as PolyAI have shown how customer-led conversational platforms can handle restaurant bookings, arrange appointments, and respond to insurance queries, to give just a few examples.

The company’s interactive solutions, which feature realistic-sounding synthetic voices, have already taken more than $7.2 million in revenue through hotel bookings alone, and are a huge time-saver for firms.

Staff who were sat making confirmation calls for a big part of their day can contribute to the business in much more interesting and fulfilling ways.

“When I look at the future and how we are going to engage with customers and what it means for contact centers, I don’t think the role of humans is going to get less,” comments Peter Hinnson – founder of nexxworks and an expert in customer engagement. “I think it’s going to get more intense [and] tools are going to help us to figure out how to be more efficient.”

Contact center AI helps through real-time transcription, call summaries, agent metrics, and in many other ways, but ultimately, only humans can determine whether customer questions have been fully understood and resolved.

Hinnson’s take on the ‘new normal’ is what he dubs the ‘never normal’ – acknowledging how digital technology is enabling a world of constant change. And far from being something that firms should fear, it’s an era of opportunities.

Smartphones put contact center features in the palm of an agent’s hand. Staff can work from anywhere. And AI can deepen the relationship that organizations have with their customers in ways that would never have been possible in the past.

For example, Jeff Lawson – Twilio’s CEO and co-founder – believes that AI paves the way for every customer to have, in effect, their own employee dedicated to finding them the best product or service, no matter how big the market grows.

Viewed through this lens, contact center AI is all about unlocking potential, and with a range of solutions providers to choose from, there’s plenty that companies can do to get ahead.