AI, Chatbots and New Value in Contact Centers


Today, most contact centers face a technology gap between customers and agents, and as long as agents remain constrained by legacy tools, productivity will invariably suffer. Chatbots represent one of the best ways to quickly close the gap, but before doing so, contact center decision makers need to get up to speed on two things:

Artificial Intelligence – The Basics

First, they need to understand the basics of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Aside from the rapid pace of innovation, AI is complex and not native to the contact center. Ultimately, the goal should be to improve the customer experience, but AI won’t deliver unless your decisions are well-informed.

Using AI to Improve Agent Productivity

Secondly, the use cases need to be thought through in terms of how chatbots can improve agent productivity. There’s a temptation to view AI as a way to automate customer service simply for operational efficiency and cost savings, but there’s much more to consider.

There is no straight path to follow, and to better help contact centers find their way, I’ve prepared a series of Strategic Insights that can be downloaded from Upstream Works.

This series is focused on the rapidly evolving field of Artificial Intelligence, and the various ways it can be deployed in the contact center. Chatbots are the most tangible application of AI, but it’s not easy to get past the hype to determine the best use cases. To do that, decision-makers need to take a holistic view across the entire customer care value chain, not just because there are many touchpoints along the way, but also because they are interconnected. Based on my ongoing research, this can be distilled to three focus areas – contact center agents, end customers and overall business performance.

Each of these will be addressed in separate Strategic Insights, and collectively, this series will provide that holistic view. The first Strategic Insight focuses on contact center agents, and how AI in general – and AI-driven chatbots in particular – can help improve agent productivity.

There’s an almost universal interest right now in AI and chatbots for customer service, and expectations are getting higher every day. While these technologies are far from perfect, they are certainly mature enough to be deployed, even if just for basic applications. Some decision-makers will hold off and learn from the mistakes of others, but it’s equally true that the sooner you start on the AI learning curve, the lower the risk as things improve – and there should be no doubt about that.

If the time is now to start your journey with AI and chatbots, I think you’ll find this series timely.

Empowering Frontline Agents for a More Personalized CX

My first Strategic Insight in this series examines two basic use cases that are built around improving CX. The first use case is about directly supporting agents to engage more effectively with customers, and the second one pertains to improving self-service capabilities so agents can focus on higher-value interactions.

The first Strategic Insight has now been published, and you can download it here. The next two in the series will follow over the next few months. I hope you find them of value, and your comments are welcome any time.