Key Considerations for Contact Centres Looking to Implement AI – Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, discusses.
Contact centres are becoming more and more crucial to the way businesses operate in the 21st century. As a contact centre manager, you’ll no doubt have experienced the change – you’re busier now than ever before. This will naturally lead to a number of questions. How can you keep your contact centre productive and efficient when the number of customers using your services keeps increasing? How can you stop customer needs from slipping through the cracks? How can you keep generating positive experiences?
One solution that might deliver real results is AI. AI in contact centres is nothing new, but even if you currently use it for some processes, it might be able to assist you with more tasks than you realised. Or perhaps you’re not currently using it at all. In either case, it’s time to learn what AI in contact centres can achieve, and what the key considerations are when you want to implement it.
Implementing AI in contact centres is not a simple plug-and-play endeavour. It requires a great deal of thoughtful planning, careful evaluation, and a comprehensive understanding of the unique considerations and challenges involved. By considering the key factors and taking a strategic approach, you can ensure a successful AI implementation that drives tangible benefits and propels your contact centre to success in the competitive field of customer service. Read on to find out more.
Define Clear Objectives
Embarking on the path of using AI in contact centres will need a solid foundation to ensure successful outcomes. One crucial element of this foundation is to define clear objectives. You need to know the pain points that need to be addressed. When you can work out exactly what’s needed to soothe that pain, this will be immensely helpful in choosing the right AI implementation procedure and even the right AI software.
Think about this: contact centres are often confronted with challenges, such as long call wait times, lower first-call resolution rates, and declining customer satisfaction scores. Before embracing AI, it’s crucial to identify and understand these pain points. By conducting a thorough analysis of existing issues, contact centres can precisely pinpoint areas where AI technology can make the most significant impact. When you define clear objectives like this, and identify the desired outcomes you want to achieve, it becomes more straightforward to set up AI in a way that will deliver the most benefits. Clear objectives replace the abstract concept of using AI with concrete goals that can be targeted.
Evaluate Data Availability And Quality
AI systems need data to work and, of course, to “learn”. This is why it’s so important for contact centres to evaluate the availability and quality of their data. Robust and reliable data forms the basis on which AI algorithms are built and trained. Therefore, contact centres need to assess the quality, accessibility, and accuracy of their data to ensure it can help to boost your AI capabilities and you don’t get left behind.
Where data quality is insufficient, you may need to consider data collection initiatives before you can consider implementing AI in your contact centre. Until there is reliable data for AI systems to learn from, you might do more harm than good in the form of giving customers the wrong information, and ultimately harming your reputation.
Choose The Right AI Applications
AI development offers an exciting array of applications designed to address a wide range of contact centre challenges. From intelligent virtual agents and voice recognition to sentiment analysis and predictive analytics, contact centres need to carefully evaluate and select the AI applications that best align with their defined objectives and cater to their specific requirements.
You’ll need to look carefully into the benefits of all the options available to determine which application is going to deliver what you need. For example, if you want to help contact centre agents respond to customer queries faster and more effectively, generative AI could be the solution. Or, if you want to gain insights into customer behaviour and what needs to be improved to better serve customers, AI-driven analytics tools could be the way to go.
Plan For Seamless Integration
You can’t simply take the AI application you’ve chosen for your contact centre, install it, and hope for the best. It’s possible that nothing will happen at all, and you’ll have simply wasted time and money. However, you might find that customers become upset and your team is disgruntled, because you didn’t take the time to carefully plan the seamless integration of AI.
You’ll need to carefully think about the compatibility of your current systems with the AI technologies. These systems include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, telephony systems, and other relevant tools. A thoughtfully planned integration strategy not only reduces disruptions but also takes into account how this new system might affect your employees and your customer interactions.
Foster Employee Collaboration
Some people believe that AI is here to replace humans, making many jobs obsolete. This is not the case – at least when it comes to AI in contact centres. It’s vital that you reassure your staff that this system is there to help them, not take over from them.
AI is a powerful tool that gives employees the chance to gain confidence and can actually augment their own capabilities. Involving frontline staff in the decision-making process and providing them with comprehensive training on working alongside AI can help to foster a sense of collaboration and acceptance. Making AI into an ally rather than a competitor is a helpful approach to take and ensures human agents leverage AI to their – and the customers’ – advantage.
It’s important to emphasise that AI is there to improve employee experience. Automating mundane and time-consuming tasks can free up employees to focus on the more meaningful aspects of their job, such as delivering excellent customer service and resolving complex problems. Additionally, having the powerful resources of AI to draw on can boost confidence in providing the right advice and resolutions. This ultimately makes the job of contact centre agents more enjoyable and increases their sense of purpose and job satisfaction. In a sector where employee turnover is high, this can make a huge difference.
Prioritise Customer Experience
At the heart of every successful contact centre is the commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. AI offers a range of opportunities to enhance customer interactions, personalise engagements, and deliver proactive support. Contact centres can leverage AI technologies to create exceptional experiences when AI-powered solutions and human agents work in synergy to provide swift, accurate, and tailored results.
When you prioritise customer experience and use AI to assist with delivering this, contact centres can create long-term customer loyalty and advocacy while enhancing their reputation.
Monitor And Evaluate Performance
Successful AI implementation doesn’t end once it’s installed and in use. You must ensure you continuously monitor and evaluate its performance. Contact centres need to work out their own KPIs to measure just how effective their AI efforts really are. By carrying out regular performance assessments, contact centres can easily see areas for improvement, improve their AI algorithms and training, and make informed decisions when it comes to changes or upgrades.
Ethical Use Of AI
As AI becomes more integrated into contact centre operations, it’s vital to think about the ethical use of this technology. It’s essential to ensure that AI in contact centres is used responsibly and in compliance with data privacy regulations. Transparency in AI decision-making and data usage is paramount if you want to build trust with your customers.
When you uphold ethical standards, contact centres can create enduring relationships with their customers while demonstrating their commitment to responsible AI usage.
Stay Agile And Flexible
There are always new ideas in the field of AI, and if a contact centre is to keep up, it can’t just work on a “set and forget” basis. It needs to be agile and flexible, so it can embrace AI innovation and adapt to accommodate best practice. This will depend on the contact centre, the AI used, and what customers want, combined with a healthy injection of keeping up with the competition. This may well be different depending on your organisation and what it requires. It’s useful to update criteria for change with a view to continual improvement.
When you are happy to foster a culture of continuous learning and exploration, contact centres can stay ahead of the curve, seize new opportunities, and leverage the latest AI advancements to boost operational excellence and improve the overall customer experience.
AI is an investment, and contact centres need to measure their ROI. This involves tracking the costs associated with implementation, training, and maintenance, as well as quantifying the benefits in terms of improved efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.
Regularly assessing ROI enables contact centres to justify AI investments, make informed decisions about future enhancements, and demonstrate the tangible value AI brings to their operations.
Implementing AI in contact centres holds immense potential for upgrading the customer experience, optimising operational efficiency, and propelling businesses ahead in the contact centre sector.
By carefully considering the points outlined above, contact centres can embark on a successful AI journey that gives them the positive outcomes they want.
Jason Roos is CEO of leading omnichannel contact centre solutions provider, Cirrus. He founded Cirrus in 2013, and they have since built up a reputation for deep expertise in the contact centre as-a-service (CCaaS) market, continually attracting the best talent, many of whom have spent their careers in the operational contact centre environment and therefore understand its challenges first-hand.
Cirrus is a leading UK contact centre service provider that offers a true-cloud Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution, providing a wide range of digital channels and API integrations from within a single agent interface.
For additional information on Cirrus view their Company Profile