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AI in the Contact Center

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Much of what we associate with artificial intelligence (AI) – namely, robots taking over the world and replacing humans – is more sci-fi that reality. But a recent Forester report suggests there may be something to fear. Within five years robots and so-called intelligent agents will eliminate many positions in customer service, trucking and taxi services, amounting to 6 percent of jobs. "By 2021, a disruptive tidal wave will begin," said Brian Hopkins, VP at Forrester, in the report. "Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics, customer service and consumer services."

In the contact center space, however, most experts agree that rather than replacing humans, AI will enhance the work agents do, making it easier and more efficient. For example, AI will anticipate customers’ questions and provide appropriate support, making the technology more of a human helper than replacer.

AI is Not New

AI seems like a new concept, but in fact the term was coined more than 60 years ago at the Dartmouth Conference, where scientists set a goal: “An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.” This was the foundation of AI and remains its focus today. Machine learning and robotics are fields within AI. Although conscious, thinking software won’t be in contact centers anytime soon, “soft AI” is already in use and includes things like finding patterns in big data and processing language (like Amazon’s Alexa).

Happier Agents, Happier Customers

According to SoftwareAdvice, 63 percent of people over the age of 35 prefer human interaction in the form of a phone call compared to an automated live chat. An Accenture study found that 83 percent of U.S. consumers prefer dealing with human beings over digital channels to solve customer services issues and get advice. Obviously, human interaction will remain an integral component of the contact center into the foreseeable future.

Agents will work in conjunction with AI to not only make their lives easier, but also improve the customer experience. Consider a road side assistance call, for example. A customer calls from her car, which has a flat tire. AI recognizes the call is urgent and automatically moves it to the top of the queue. When the agent picks up the call, AI continues to help, now as a virtual assistant providing information while the agent talks to the customer.

Part of the advantage of this kind of symbiosis is that AI will act behind-the-scenes for the benefit of both agents and customers. Agents will have pertinent information without having to look for it, while customers will enjoy the human interaction without realizing the AI working in the background.

SingleComm is already providing contact centers with the tools that will be capable of working hand-in-hand with future AI developments. To learn more about you can harness technology today and in years to come, contact SingleComm today.

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