An Artificial Intelligence Roadmap For Contact Centers

There are many innovations that are rapidly changing the landscape of the contact center. From being able to offer an omnichannel customer experience across multiple channels to internet-enabled devices connecting directly to contact centers to provide proactive service, there is no doubt that the days of the single channel call center are long gone. One of the most interesting innovations that is being increasingly discussed by visionaries and industry experts is artificial intelligence.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

While there are multiple definitions for artificial intelligence or “AI,” the term is most commonly applied when a machine uses leading-edge technology to perform or mimic “cognitive” functions that are intuitive within the human brain, such as problem-solving and learning. Some of the most recognizable current forms of AI are self-driving cars and computers that can beat even professional players in chess.

The field of AI was first introduced 60 years ago at a conference on the campus of Dartmouth College when leaders of AI research for many decades first met. These individuals wrote some of the first programs that were able to play checkers and solve complicated mathematical problems. In the early days of AI research, funding was primarily from the military, who could see the possibility of machines that were able to do the work a man could do. Today, a growing number of technology companies are developing solutions that incorporate AI.

Artificial Intelligence in the Contact Center

With the development of digital channels, it makes perfect sense for AI to be leveraged within the contact center environment. “Smart” technologies are now offering automated customer service, and customers appear to prefer the convenience and ease of self-service. For contact centers that want to stay competitive and meet today’s growing expectations, it’s essential to develop an AI roadmap for adopting this technology that is already setting the standard for managing the customer experience.

Evaluate Your Needs

Many companies are still struggling with outdated contact center infrastructure that is patched together with siloed communication channels and disparate solutions that are not integrated. Before adding new options that may or may not offer AI, it’s important to first upgrade system infrastructure. This typically means deploying a CX platform that enables channel and point solution integration.

Intelligent Routing

One of the fundamental purposes of AI in a contact center is to make the customer journey more consistent and personalized. This can’t happen if customers are still being routed in siloed queues and transferred repeatedly. AI is rapidly changing routing capabilities by enabling it to be contextual by picking up customer intent through the use of CRM and customer journey history in real time. This gives each customer the most optimal experience with the best possible resource. An intelligent routing solution can rout interactions from multiple channels, including voice, email, chat, social, mobile, and more.

Conversational IVR

Another up-and-coming way that AI is being incorporated into CX is to replace a touchtone IVR system with a directed dialogue, speech-based IVR system that is better able to satisfy customer requests and drive self-service automation. The benefits of making this shift are significant, including being able to manage a wider diversity of requests from customers and increasing first-call resolutions. Some industry leaders, including US Airways and FedEx, are already using conversational IVR to provide intelligent, dynamic, personal CX.

Virtual Advisors

AI technology is also being used now to create smart customer care solutions that mimic customer care agents with humanlike recommendations and high precision search. This is similar to Siri on iPhones that serves as a virtual assistant that understands natural language. Virtual contact center assistants make it fast and efficient for customers to obtain the help they need. They minimize long hold times and offer digital verbal interactions that can answer their questions, identify sales opportunities, and solve problems.

Putting It All Together

No AI solution will work as a stand-alone feature. It requires an integrated solution to capture data about customers and their interactions. With a platform in place that enables AI-driven solutions to be plugged in, along with the integration of channels and other solutions, such as CRM and speech analytics. A scalable platform will also enable new solutions that haven’t yet been introduced to be added in the future.

What’s Next?

Like with other up-and-coming technologies, artificial intelligence will certainly become more robust over time. Only time will tell what new ways AI will be adapted to improve CX. In the meantime, it is definitely something that should be considered when developing a contact center modernization plan. Customers are increasingly expecting the personalized, low-effort service that AI can offer. And those who adopt it into their CX strategy will be able to stay competitive.