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How AI Is Transforming the Role of the Agent

The human element remains essential, but is enhanced by the introduction of AI in contact center. 

However much technology we add to the contact center, the human element remains essential. Empathy and understanding are critical to solving complex challenges and maintaining gold-standard customer experience (CX). However, the role of the human agent will be forever altered by the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Experts predict that by 2030 AI will allow many jobs to be performed more efficiently, including those of contact center agents; already 63% of industry professionals believe that AI will be a top CX trend for 2023. AI is more than just a tool, it is a fundamental shift in the assumptions and processes of the contact center. The role of the agent must evolve accordingly.

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With rising pressure from consumers to deliver consistent, outstanding customer engagement, and increasing staff turnover in contact centers, how can AI be used to create exemplary CX from limited resources? Here are the three most compelling use cases for the role of AI in assisting the modern agent:

Ensure Agents Handle Highly Relevant Requests Through Intelligent Call Routing

Through AI-driven technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis, automated processing of both content and sentiment can enable the routing of each customer contact to the most suitable agent, first time. No longer will customers be bounced between agents, forced to repeat details over and over until they reach the right person. Through AI, individuals can be directed accurately and instantaneously based on their needs—no more, “press one for”—leading to a satisfying resolution for both parties.

When inquiries are simple and repetitive—for example tariff renewal, information requests, or appointment bookings—AI can take much of the burden away from contact center agents. An AI chatbot can guide a customer through self-service, or escalate to a human agent where necessary. This frees up valuable agents to focus on the most complex requests, delivering effective solutions to the customers in the most urgent need.

Support Agents During Voice Interactions

AI can also assist agents during calls. An AI using NLP and sentiment analysis can deliver active script suggestions to agents when dealing with challenging interactions, ensuring a productive resolution and eliminating time spent on hold while the agent looks up information. An AI can monitor an agent’s speech, ensuring that compliance scripts are properly conveyed and that an interaction meets required standards of quality. If it doesn’t, AI can flag the interaction for review by a supervisor, and offer suggestions for appropriate agent training.

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In all these cases, AI works not by eliminating the human element (as so many AI prophets foretell) but by supporting it. The human element remains essential, but is enhanced by the introduction of AI in contact center.

Reduce Demand Through First Contact Resolution And Proactive Communications

In times of economic uncertainty, keeping contact center costs under control will always be a key challenge. AI that boosts first-contact resolution by making self-service easy will help cut down numbers of repeat callers. A reduction in repeat callers drives down service costs, whilst also saving time for agents and creating shorter waiting times for customers. AI can also proactively reduce instances of repetitive calls. Where the system notices multiple queries linked to the same topic, such as a utilities provider receiving several calls about a power cut, an automated messaging tool can send SMS notifications alerting affected users to the problem. These users are directed to self-service channels that provide updates on the situation. This improves both CX and the agent experience, whilst cutting the volume of repetitive queries that agents need to deal with.

The Contact Centre Equation is Balanced: Part Human, Part Machine

Cutting-edge AI technology is helping to make contact centers more efficient, giving agents more time to focus on creating personalized, empathic customer moments. With intelligent tools such as Conversational Machine Agents powered by NLP, sentiment analysis-driven CX insights, and proactive dialing software, AI is on hand to supplement and assist the human agent. With repetitive tasks taken away, AI-supported staff can better focus on providing high quality human customer interactions. People will always be needed to handle complex or sensitive inquiries, so it’s important to strike the right balance between artificial and agent intelligence, ensuring that the customer is satisfied every time.

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