Covid has accelerated contact center digitalization, but Australia still lags behind, says Auscontact chief – Future of Work

The trend to digitize the customer contact center has intensified following the Covid pandemic, but the adoption of AI tools is still lower in Australia than in the US and Asian markets.

Digital Nation Australia spoke with Fiona Keough, CEO of Auscontact Association, the only not-for-profit organization focused on supporting the contact center landscape in the country.

According to Keough, “When we surveyed the equivalent of approximately 23,000 people in mid-2021, we actually found that the rate of automation or adoption of AI was relatively low compared to larger markets. mature”.

Where AI and automation have been embraced, she said the focus has been on transactional interactions, where a human interface is not initially required. However, this means that when a human is required to serve a customer, the interaction is often inherently more complex.

“When I started, someone was like, ‘How much money do I have in my bank account?’ And I would say ‘You have XYZ’ and then ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ and then the call would be over. When the agent speaks to the client or client now, they are past that stage and are now saying “I dispute this”. I refute that. I want to know more. Why is this? Why is that? Said Keough.

“They literally call, and I mean that in the nicest way possible, and I’m exaggerating of course, to tear shreds. Not of the individual, but shreds of the organization. But you’re the human in the middle of it all.

Dealing with negative interactions with dissatisfied customers can have a profound effect on an agent’s mental health and wellbeing, which Keough says has only been exacerbated in a world of remote work.

“When you’re all sitting together and you can see someone else in the contact center, there’s someone there who can immediately empathize or your team leader can approach you. and say, “You know what, take a break. I just heard this, you really need to take five for yourself,” she said.

The problem with working remotely is that managers and team members aren’t in earshot of these conversations and must instead rely on wellness training, giving agents the skills to recognize when their sanity is challenged.

This is what “best-in-class” contact centers invest in, she added.