Provide a Better Agent Experience with AI Application Integrations

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications and digital transformation remain core technology trends across all facets of business, but they are especially relevant for contact centers. AI in particular holds great promise but remains poorly understood. The complexities around AI are difficult to understand and contact center leaders are uncertain about how to deploy it. At a high level, it’s easy to view AI as a silver bullet to help improve customer experience (CX), as well as contact center operations through automation.

While automation is clearly a strong benefit for deploying AI applications, customer service is still a personal, human-to-human experience. For this reason, the best short-term ROI will come from supporting agent performance and IT decision-makers need to think in terms of how AI applications help agents improve CX for today’s digital expectations.

Here are three forms of AI application integrations that will improve the agent experience (AX) and, in turn, improve CX.

1. A Centralized Desktop Portal

As customer service becomes increasingly omnichannel, an integrated desktop becomes more critical for agent performance. Not only must agents seamlessly shift from channel to channel based on customer preferences, but they must have ready access to both applications and coworkers in the moment. The demands of CX today mean that all of this must be at the ready – agents cannot be wasting time jumping from window to window, or app to app.

Fine-tuning the agent desktop requires striking a delicate balance among all your existing tools and apps, the foundation of your contact center. AI represents a new layer and your agent desktop should have enough flexibility to support the AI applications you’ve selected. There are many AI applications to choose from, and you should go with what best supports your agents.

AI is still new for contact centers and IT leaders need to view this as more than just a way to automate operations. Instead, the focus should be on AI applications that enhance the agent experience by automating repetitive tasks and provide critical intelligence at the precise time when it can make the biggest impact on CX. When these capabilities become part of the agent desktop, your agents will have deeper visibility into each customer journey, empowering them to provide next-level customer service.

2. A Shorter Learning Curve for Agents

Increasing speed to competency is the greatest benefit of AI for overall contact center operations. Most agents have a skills deficit when it comes to omnichannel and few contact centers have the luxury of having dedicated agents based on specific channels. Each channel has its own nuances and as channels are added, agents usually must adopt them on the fly.

Agent training is a great use case for AI applications and can help agents upskill in less time and more effectively than with other learning tools. AI is better at pattern recognition than humans, and can identify which behaviors produce the best outcomes for each specific situation. The more agents you have, the larger the data sets will be for training – this is the single most important factor for AI’s effectiveness. As such, your initial results may not be perfect, but they will absolutely improve as things progress, and you will soon reach a point where the payoff for AI will be evident.

Aside from helping agents broaden their omnichannel toolkit, there is another important operational need AI can address. The rise in pandemic-led call volumes is not subsiding and AI’s automation capabilities can help manage that traffic. Compounding this, however, is the challenge of keeping staffing levels high in contact centers. Aside from the turnover that is inherent in the customer service space, contact centers struggle to attract new agents so they need all the help they can get to shorten the training cycle and bring new hires up to speed.

3. Empower Agents to Leverage AI

Even when agents become adept at omnichannel, what really matters for providing great CX is having access to the right information at the right time. Aside from being able to address customer issues in the moment, agents must strive to make each interaction personal so customers feel valued and heard.

This may not be easy to do, but it’s the bar that leading contact centers set for themselves because it translates to empowered agents. That’s the feeling agents need for their work to be meaningful and for customers to feel loyal to your brand. Presuming agents are rewarded accordingly, this empowerment will keep them performing at a high level.

AI applications have a role to play here when predictive analytics can guide agents to say the right things at the right time. As the data sets grow, AI-based guidance will become more accurate, providing agents with more confidence than relying solely on their intuition. Similarly, AI-driven bots can be used by agents to automate their own workflows, such as having bots manage tasks, send messages to other agents or supervisors, or map out scheduling for upcoming shifts.

Learn more about how Upstream Works is helping AI help agents here.

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