When AI goes wrong; five contact center transformation mistakes to avoid
Jonathan Rosenberg, CTO and Head of AI at Five9
Contact centers today are overwhelmed by technological transformation. From machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), to text-to-speech and intelligent virtual agents (IVA), major contact centers are rapidly adopting AI. It enables a new approach to CX (Customer Experience) that combines self-service IVAs with agent assistance tools, where bots provide agents with real-time insights, recommendations and guidance during complex calls .
“AI is an incredible tool that can bring tremendous value to the contact center, but it must be leveraged intentionally.” Too many customer experience professionals have fallen into a trap when it comes to AI adoption, putting an enthusiasm for technological innovation before understanding its place in the full customer experience journey.
For AI to deliver on its promise, it must be practical and deliver real business results that correlate with improved customer experience. Here we break down the five common pitfalls of adopting AI in the contact center – and how to avoid them.
1 – Adopt AI as just another “add-on”
When integrating AI into the contact center, many see it as another standalone tool that can be integrated into an existing strategy. Make no mistake about it, AI will fundamentally transform the way your contact center operates and dramatically change the customer experience journey.
For example, in practical terms, adding conversational IVAs to your contact center means adding a new “digital workforce” that can collaborate with your agents and deliver services alongside them. This goes beyond simply deploying new software. AI is transforming the way work is done and creating the opportunity to rethink the purpose and role of the contact center.
For example, if AI handles the bulk of transactional calls, can your live agents focus on proactive, outbound service? Do they become both sales agents and service agents? There can be a huge ripple effect in shifting entire swathes of work to AI, which can free up your employees to become a whole new resource.
2 – AI without result
Don’t get caught up in the excitement of futuristic technologies. Be sure to embrace AI with a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how it will be measured. There are many ways AI can have an impact, but you need to make sure you’re measuring the right metrics for your business. Whether it’s more accurately routing calls, improving call handle time, first call resolution, call abandonment, or fully automating certain tasks, or a mix of all of these , make sure your supplier can provide proof points and customer references to back up any ROI claims.
At the same time, remember that AI itself does not create better CX. Make sure you understand exactly what the customer will experience with AI and how you will measure its impact on their journey. Work with a vendor who can help you understand the impact at every stage.
3 – Neglecting AI maintenance
While AI is helping contact centers do amazing things, it’s not magic and mistakes can happen. AI relies on constant learning and uses models to train and improve results. When deploying AI, consider how the technology handles errors.
How is it formed and who is responsible for its formation? Can it operate in real time and does it provide monitoring to agents to ensure accuracy? For example, if AI creates automatic call summaries, human agents need to be able to quickly review a summary for accuracy before it is placed in the CRM. This step ensures accurate information and helps the AI to continuously learn and improve.
4 – Do not involve your employees
AI is transformational in every way, driving change for agents and customers. There has been a lot of speculation and fearmongering about the impact of AI on employees. It is important to counter this by communicating that AI is not designed to replace human agents, but to assist and free them to engage in more valuable customer interactions.
Guide people through the changes created by AI and engage them in the process, clearly explaining why it is adopted and what it cannot replace. AI offers many benefits, but it can never replace the empathy and kindness your employees have to offer your customers.
Likewise, include your customers in change management. Let them know you’re creating new ways to engage with them and give them the opportunity to provide feedback. When a call is transferred from IVA or a bot to an agent, ask the customer if the AI was helpful. Acknowledge that AI isn’t perfect and let customers know you’re striving to continually improve it.
5 – Leave questions unanswered
Almost every vendor in the CX space will tout AI as an integral part of their cloud contact center solutions, but AI maturity levels vary wildly. Not all AIs are built the same and provide the same flexibility needed to evolve and grow.
For example, what conversational AI technologies does your vendor offer? Is there flexibility to switch between providers – Google Dialogflow, IBM Watson, Amazon Lex, etc. – so that you can always benefit from the latest advances?
Examine how the platform integrates with back-end systems. How easy is it for non-technical users to make simple changes to applications and what is the agent user experience like?
Enjoy the fruits of transformation
When human experience drives your AI strategy and you take a thoughtful approach to implementation, AI enables the automation, responsiveness, and agility that extends human capabilities.
Besides human intelligence and empathy, AI can help brands excel in customer experience. Although it takes time to make sure everything is done right, the fruits of success are sweet. To have the best chance of harnessing the full benefits of AI, be sure to choose the partner who will help you establish strong roots and whose technology will evolve alongside you.
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