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Revolutionizing CX: Contact Center AI Takes Center Stage in 2023

One particular area where contact center AI has already demonstrated huge potential is Customer Experience (CX).

A well-shared industry statistic, call centers face an annual employee turnover rate of 26%; a figure exceptionally high compared to the UK average of 15%. Although losing employees is common in the sector, it doesn’t stop it from being a costly problem that hinders business efficiency. In fact, according to CIPD’s Resources and Talent Planning Report 2022, the average cost for hiring a new employee is around $1877 reaching approximately $3752 for senior manager and director hires. And that doesn’t factor in training costs or the impact losing an employee has on workforce morale. 

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With high call volumes, endless disgruntled customers, and strict performance targets, it’s no wonder the industry’s stress levels lead to a churn rate that’s through the roof. While many have labelled the issue a “vicious cycle with no easy way out”, what if Artificial Intelligence (AI) could ease the problem, while simultaneously helping drive efficiencies and cut costs?

We’re already seeing the immense impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on businesses sector-wide. In fact, experts predict that 2023 will be a significant year for AI and Machine Learning (ML) as the technology matures, the number of applications increase, and adoption surges.

One particular area where AI has already demonstrated huge potential is Customer Experience (CX). A positive CX can result in increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, while a negative CX can lead to customer churn and damage to a brand’s reputation. As such, CX is a vital cog in the contact center machine. According to Talkdesk Research’s global report, 80% of CX professionals believe integrating AI will provide a better contact center experience.

Recent years have seen a dramatic change in contact centers, with large office-based centers being replaced by distributed CX teams that use agile, efficient, and scalable cloud-based tools. This shift has contributed to the exponential growth of the Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) market, which according to a report, is expected to reach $19.8 billion by 2031, which equates to a 16.8 percent annual growth rate.

Businesses are leveraging technology, including AI and automation, to drive customer satisfaction and employee wellbeing. As a result, AI and automation are playing a crucial role in delivering effective and profitable customer and employee experiences.

For contact centers, the preferred deployment model is now cloud-based CCaaS, which is further enhanced by AI. AI chatbots are handling customer queries, and other AI tools are assisting agents in improving their interactions with customers. This is achieved through improved routing, advanced decision-making, and real-time actionable insights.

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2023’s top AI trends in contact centers

As more organizations utilize AI to enhance CX performance across all types of contact centers – from inbound and outbound centers, to virtual and omnichannel centers – top trends we anticipate seeing in 2023 include:

  • AI will empower employees – This year we expect to see more contact centers utilizing AI assistants and bots. This will empower employees with intelligent tools that match customers with the agent who possesses the best knowledge to resolve their issue. Additionally, the same AI solutions can provide immediate access to contextual customer information from integrated tools in the contact center, thereby enabling employees to resolve customer queries promptly. This not only enhances the customer experience but also reduces the workload for employees, as they can access information and resolve issues efficiently.
  • Customers will receive highly personalized experiences  – AI can provide employees with predictive engagement insights to create exceptionally personalized experiences for customers. These solutions can also track the sentiment in human voices and evaluate intentions to identify when a conversation is going awry. Based on this analysis, AI can offer recommendations on how to steer the interaction in the right direction.
  • AI will become the ears on the ground – Unlike supervisors, who cannot listen in and review every call and gain actionable insights, AI can. Because AI has the ability to rapidly record information, we see it becoming a business’ ears, ultimately reducing the manual workload of employees in contact centers. Moreover, AI-powered self-service bots and tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated in responding to customer queries. This not only provides customers with more service options, but also diminishes the amount of work that human staff needs to handle.
  • Use of gamification will grow – Directly addressing the high staff turnover rates facing the industry, Employee Experience (EX) is a key part of CCaaS and gamification has been proven to improve the lives of agents. Employers cite a 48% engagement increase with a gamified work experience and 90% of employees say it makes them more productive. By actively coaching and training agents, workers are engaged and feel valued, employee churn falls, while productivity rises and performance is boosted.
  • AI will be responsible for managing repetitive tasks – The most valuable yet expensive assets of a contact center are its agents. This year, we expect to see more centers leverage AI to handle repetitive tasks so that they can allocate their human resources to focus on revenue-generating activities essential for the business. This will also help reduce recruitment expenses as many contact centers experience staff shortages. 

With such compelling benefits – for the contact center’s bottom line, its employees retention rates and wellbeing and customers’ satisfaction – we see investment in solutions that have AI functionality integrated rising substantially this year and beyond. And we’re not alone in that prediction; 84% of customer experience (CX) professionals expect their company’s total spending on AI and automation to increase in 2025 compared with 2021.

Although we don’t believe AI will replace human contact center agents, it will undoubtedly enable and empower them to perform better, enjoy their role more, boost job efficiency and help them understand and react to customer needs better; all of which, we predict, will reduce those shockingly high turnover rates.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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