A.I.’s impact on contact centers

Q&A with Michael Riek
BPO & Contact Centers practice leader at Charles Aris Inc.

What is A.I.?

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of software or a machine to think and learn. A.I. technologies are still maturing, so the ability for A.I. to self-learn (via machine learning) isn’t fully developed. When we think of A.I. in contact centers, it’s typically deployed to work and react like human agents.

How is A.I. used in contact centers today?

A.I. is currently being used to:
  • create efficiencies for customer service representatives (CSRs) and customers
  • automate repetitive and / or simplistic queries
  • analyze quality outcome data and suggest actions for improvement
  • analyze contact data for both customer and agent behaviors
  • and predict outcomes which can create an improved customer experience

What does it all mean?

A.I. is widely used across contact centers around the world. In some cases, leaders are just starting to explore what A.I. means and how it can impact their organizations and customer experience. The financial and labor investments to properly implement A.I. are heavy. A.I. technologies require that contact centers dedicate efforts from information technology, operations, training, quality, WFM, reporting and leadership. For the most part, these A.I. systems are not plug and play – in other words, humans are required to implement the systems, develop the A.I. strategy, and manually input data points. So the customer experience is still largely dependent on human activity and is only as good as the human inputs.

Will A.I. replace agents?

In my conversations with contact center operational leaders and company executives, the consensus is that A.I. ultimately will facilitate more efficient operations. A.I. will provide information that will enable agents to deliver a better customer experience. These customers will be more loyal, which should translate to additional revenue. Bots will reduce the human element for simple and repetitive queries. And, yes, some agent positions will be shed as a result, but the human element won’t disappear – customers don’t want them to. Artificial Intelligence is evolving rapidly, so the future is hard to predict. I think it’s safe to say that A.I. will be more widely adopted as its costs come down and implementation becomes less labor intensive. Concerns that A.I. will replace contact center agents altogether overlook evidence suggesting that such a development would be far from one that customers would readily accept. Ask me again in a year or two, when A.I. is more advanced and deployed more broadly, and you might get a different answer.

To learn more about the Charles Aris BPO & Contact Center recruiting practice, contact Michael Riek at 336-378-1818, extension 9106, or email him at michael.riek@charlesaris.com.