Understanding the ROI of AI in Contact Centres

2023 has seen the emergence of AI-driven contact centres, transforming the world of customer service. As we move into 2024, the race is on for businesses to adopt and capitalise on the opportunities the technology presents. Integrating AI into contact centres is more than a trend. It’s a watershed moment that will redefine customer engagement and operational efficiency. From AI-powered chatbots handling routine inquiries to sophisticated analytics predicting customer behaviour, the influence of AI is a game changer.

This integration, however, raises the question: What is the return on investment (ROI) for deploying AI technologies in contact centres? Understanding the ROI is essential for businesses to measure AI’s financial impact and value in terms of enhanced customer experience, operational improvements, and long-term business growth.

In this article, we will look into the ROI of AI in contact centres, reviewing financial, operational, and experiential returns. We will explore how AI’s capabilities translate into measurable outcomes, the challenges and considerations in quantifying its benefits, and the broader implications for the future of customer service.

Understanding AI in Contact Centres

AI Technologies in Contact Centres

– Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Chatbots, powered by AI, have revolutionised how contact centres handle inquiries. These virtual assistants can interact with customers in natural language, responding instantly to common queries. They can also escalate complex issues to human agents, ensuring a seamless service experience.

– Voice Recognition and Natural Language Processing (NLP): Voice recognition technology, coupled with NLP, enables contact centres to understand and process customer queries through spoken language. This technology transforms voice into actionable data, facilitating more natural and efficient customer interactions.

– Predictive Analytics: AI-driven predictive analytics use historical data to forecast future customer behaviours and trends. By analysing patterns in customer interactions, contact centres can proactively address potential issues and tailor their services to meet evolving needs.

– Automated Routing and Decision-Making: AI algorithms can intelligently route customer queries to the most appropriate agent or department based on the nature of the inquiry and the agent’s expertise. This optimises response times and improves the accuracy of issue resolution.

– Sentiment Analysis: Through sentiment analysis, AI systems can gauge the emotional tone behind customer interactions. This insight allows contact centres to understand customer satisfaction better and tailor their responses accordingly.

Enhancing Customer Service and Operational Efficiency

– Improved Response Times: AI technologies like chatbots and automated routing significantly reduce customer wait times, leading to quicker resolutions and enhanced satisfaction.

– 24/7 Service Availability: AI-driven solutions enable contact centres to provide round-the-clock service, ensuring customer inquiries are addressed outside of traditional business hours.

– Personalised Customer Interactions: By leveraging data analytics, AI can help personalise interactions based on a customer’s history and preferences, providing a more engaging and satisfying customer experience.

– Increased Operational Efficiency: AI automates routine tasks, freeing human agents to handle more complex issues. This increases the efficiency of the contact centre and allows agents to focus on areas where human empathy and understanding are crucial.

– Data-Driven Insights for Continuous Improvement: The wealth of data generated and analysed by AI technologies offers valuable insights for ongoing improvements in service strategies, agent training, and overall operational protocols.

Measuring the ROI of AI in Contact Centres

AI vs. Human Agent Metrics

It’s important to distinguish between the ROI metrics for AI technologies and human agents. While AI technologies, like virtual agents, offer scalability and efficiency in handling routine tasks, human agents excel in dealing with more complex interactions. Recognising this difference is key to accurately measuring and understanding the ROI of AI in contact centres.

Conversation Analytics and Simultaneous Interaction Handling

AI technologies revolutionise customer service by handling multiple interactions simultaneously, something human agents cannot do. This scalability significantly enhances operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Conversation analytics can track AI and human agents, but it’s important to cluster these separately for precise ROI assessment. AI’s ability to manage high-volume tasks without compromising quality is crucial in measuring its financial impact.

AI-Specific KPIs and Efficiencies

The efficiency and effectiveness of AI technologies are often captured through specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that differ markedly from those used to evaluate human agents. Central among these are metrics like reduced Average Handling Time (AHT) and improved First Contact Resolution (FCR). These AI-specific KPIs offer a window into how AI technologies are reshaping the landscape of customer service, driving cost savings, and enhancing operational efficiency.

Reduced Average Handling Time (AHT)

AHT, a critical metric in contact centres, measures the average duration of customer interactions. AI technologies, especially chatbots and virtual assistants, have been instrumental in reducing AHT. This reduction is largely due to AI’s ability to handle routine inquiries quickly and efficiently, thus freeing up human agents to address more complex issues. The impact of AI on reducing AHT is quantifiable and significant. By automating responses to frequently asked questions and routine tasks, AI-driven systems can process queries in a fraction of the time it would take a human agent, leading to a substantial decrease in overall AHT

Improved First Contact Resolution (FCR)

FCR measures the percentage of customer queries resolved during the first interaction. AI technologies excel in this area by providing accurate, instant responses to customer inquiries. Enhanced with machine learning and access to extensive knowledge bases, AI systems can often resolve common issues without escalating them to human agents. The improvement in FCR not only boosts customer satisfaction but also demonstrates the efficiency of AI in contact centre operations. AI’s ability to improve FCR is particularly noticeable in its capacity to quickly analyse and understand customer queries, leveraging data to provide precise and relevant solutions.

Quantifying AI-Specific Efficiencies

Quantifying these efficiencies involves tracking and analysing the performance of AI systems in real-time. This can be done through specialised analytics tools that monitor AI interactions, comparing them against benchmarks set for human agents. For example, contact centres can measure the reduction in AHT and improvements in FCR before and after AI implementation to gauge its impact. Additionally, customer satisfaction surveys can be used to assess the effectiveness of AI in resolving queries to the customer’s satisfaction.

Differentiating from Traditional Human Agent Metrics

While AHT and FCR are also relevant for human agents, the benchmarks and expectations differ. Human agents are generally expected to handle more complex, specialist interactions, which might naturally result in longer handling times and varied FCR rates. In contrast, AI is typically deployed for efficiency in high-volume, repetitive tasks, leading to inherently different performance metrics. Understanding these differences is crucial for contact centres to set realistic goals and accurately assess the performance and ROI of AI technologies.

Human Agents’ Role and Different KPIs

Unlike AI, where efficiency and speed are key, the metrics for human agents shift towards customer satisfaction, problem-solving effectiveness, and the quality of the interaction. Here, we discuss the invaluable contributions of human agents and the KPIs that best reflect their role in ensuring high-quality customer service.

Emphasis on Customer Satisfaction and Engagement

For human agents, customer satisfaction emerges as a primary metric. It encompasses the resolution of the customer’s issue and how the interaction made the customer feel. This is especially important in complex scenarios requiring empathy, understanding, and creative problem-solving. Human agents have the unique ability to form connections, display empathy, and adapt their responses to the emotional state and specific needs of each customer, enhancing customer engagement and loyalty.

Problem-Solving Effectiveness

Human agents are often faced with complex, unscripted problems that AI cannot adequately address. The effectiveness with which agents resolve these intricate issues is a critical KPI. This metric goes beyond the mere resolution of a problem to encompass the quality of the solution and the creativity and resourcefulness employed by the agent. It also includes the agent’s ability to handle unexpected questions or issues, providing tailored solutions that reflect a deep understanding of the customer’s situation.

Quality of Interaction

Quality of interaction is another vital metric for human agents. This KPI assesses the overall quality of the communication between the agent and the customer, considering factors like clarity of communication, politeness, understanding of the customer’s needs, and the ability to provide a reassuring and positive experience. Quality interactions are often the cornerstone of building long-term customer relationships and brand loyalty.

Balancing Efficiency with Effectiveness

While efficiency metrics like AHT are less emphasised for human agents, there is still a need to balance efficiency with effectiveness. Agents are encouraged to manage their time wisely, but not at the expense of the quality of customer interactions. This balance is key in ensuring that the contact centre operates smoothly without compromising the quality of service.

The Synergy of AI and Human Agents

It’s important to note that the success of a contact centre lies in the synergy between AI and human agents. While AI handles routine inquiries efficiently, human agents excel in areas requiring deeper interaction and emotional intelligence. This complementary relationship maximises the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the contact centre, ensuring a high-quality customer service experience across all types of interactions.

In conclusion, the role of human agents in contact centres remains irreplaceable, with a focus on metrics that emphasise customer satisfaction, problem-solving effectiveness, and quality of interaction. Understanding and valuing the unique contributions of human agents is essential for the holistic success of AI-integrated contact centres.

Integrated ROI Analysis

An integrated approach that encompasses both AI and human agent contributions is crucial to effectively measure the Return on Investment (ROI) in AI-integrated contact centres. This holistic method of ROI analysis recognises the diverse impacts of AI and human interactions, going beyond mere cost savings and efficiency gains to include evaluations of customer satisfaction and service quality. Here, we reveal the method for combining AI-specific metrics with traditional human agent metrics, providing a comprehensive understanding of the contact centre’s overall performance.

Combining Efficiency and Quality Metrics

The first step in integrated ROI analysis is to amalgamate efficiency metrics, such as Average Handling Time (AHT) and First Contact Resolution (FCR) from AI systems, with quality-centric metrics from human interactions, like customer satisfaction scores and problem-solving effectiveness. This combination acknowledges AI’s speed and volume handling capabilities while valuing the depth and quality of human interactions.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Incorporating a cost-benefit analysis is essential in understanding the financial impact of AI integration versus human labour. This analysis should consider the initial and ongoing costs of AI implementation, including technology acquisition, maintenance, and upgrades, against the cost savings from reduced staff requirements and operational efficiencies. Simultaneously, it should account for the investment in human agents, including training, salaries, and other related expenses, and balance these against the qualitative benefits they bring, such as enhanced customer loyalty and brand reputation.

Customer Satisfaction and Service Quality Evaluation

Customer satisfaction and service quality are pivotal in assessing ROI. Surveys, feedback mechanisms, and sentiment analysis tools can be used to gather data on customer experiences with both AI and human agents. This data provides insights into how well the contact centre meets customer needs and expectations. To gain a complete picture of performance, it is important to correlate these qualitative metrics with quantitative data like resolution times and call volumes.

Longitudinal Analysis for Trends and Patterns

Performing a longitudinal analysis over time allows for the observation of trends and patterns in both AI and human agent performance. This analysis can reveal how changes in technology, agent training, or operational strategies impact overall ROI. It also helps in predicting future performance and ROI based on current trends.

Benchmarking Against Industry Standards

Comparing the contact centre’s performance with industry benchmarks offers an external perspective on the effectiveness and efficiency of both AI and human agents. This benchmarking can highlight areas of strength and opportunities for improvement, ensuring that the contact centre remains competitive and aligned with industry best practices.

Regular Review and Adjustment

Finally, an integrated ROI analysis should be an ongoing process with regular reviews and adjustments. As technology evolves and customer expectations change, the metrics and methods used in ROI analysis may need to be updated. This iterative process ensures the analysis remains relevant and aligned with the contact centre’s strategic objectives.

Case Examples: Illustrating ROI in Contact Centres

The true measure of the effectiveness of an integrated approach to ROI analysis in AI-integrated contact centres can be best understood through real-world examples. Below are brief case studies illustrating how different contact centres have successfully measured and achieved ROI by adopting this differentiated approach.

Case Study 1: Telecom Company

– Scenario: A large telecommunications provider implemented AI chatbots to handle basic customer inquiries and routed complex issues to human agents.

– Integrated Approach: They measured AI’s impact by tracking the reduction in Average Handling Time (AHT) and improvement in First Contact Resolution (FCR). Simultaneously, they surveyed customer satisfaction to assess the effectiveness of human agents in handling complex issues.

– Results: The company saw a 35% reduction in AHT and a 20% improvement in FCR. Customer satisfaction scores related to complex inquiries handled by human agents increased by 15%.

– ROI Realization: The integrated approach revealed an annual savings of £2 million in operational costs and a significant improvement in customer loyalty and brand perception.

Case Study 2: Online Retailer

– Scenario: An online retail company employed AI for customer service inquiries and human agents for in-depth product consultations.

– Integrated Approach: They analysed cost savings from AI implementation and measured customer engagement levels and sales conversion rates from interactions with human agents.

– Results: AI led to a 40% decrease in routine inquiry costs. Human-agent interactions resulted in a 25% higher conversion rate for sales.

– ROI Realization: The dual approach demonstrated an overall increase in profitability by 10% and enhanced customer retention due to personalised experiences.

Case Study 3: Healthcare Customer Support

– Scenario: A healthcare support centre integrated AI for initial patient inquiries and symptom assessments while complex cases were escalated to human medical advisors.

– Integrated Approach: The centre measured AI’s call handling speed and accuracy efficiency. For human advisors, the focus was on patient satisfaction and accuracy of advice.

– Results: AI reduced initial inquiry handling time by 50% and correctly identified symptoms in 85% of cases. Patient satisfaction with human advisors was rated at 90%.

– ROI Realisation: The integrated measurement showed an overall increase in operational efficiency and high patient trust and satisfaction, leading to a 15% increase in patient retention.

Case Study 4: Finance Call Centre

– Scenario: A financial services call centre used AI to handle transaction inquiries and human agents for complex financial advisories.

– Integrated Approach: They tracked the efficiency of AI in transaction handling and the impact of human advisors on customer investment decisions.

– Results: AI reduced transaction-related call times by 60%. Engagements with human agents resulted in a 30% increase in customer investment activities.

– ROI Realisation: This approach highlighted the cost-effectiveness of AI for routine transactions and the value added by human agents in cultivating customer relationships and revenue growth.

These case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of an integrated ROI analysis approach. By combining AI-specific metrics with those for human agents, these contact centres were able to gain a comprehensive understanding of their performance and make informed decisions that enhanced their efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall profitability.

Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, says,

“The role of IT departments in producing compelling business cases for AI-led contact centre solutions will be a key success factor in 2024. It’s important for IT leaders to thoroughly assess and articulate not just the technological aspects but also the broader business impact of AI integration. This includes a detailed analysis of potential ROI, cost savings, operational efficiencies, and enhanced customer experiences.

The ability to present a rounded and strategic view of AI’s benefits – aligning technology with core business objectives – is essential for securing investment and executive buy-in. As AI continues redefining customer engagement, IT departments are responsible for leading this charge, ensuring that technology investments are innovative and align with and drive the company’s overall growth and customer service goals.”


AI’s role in contact centres and its return on investment (ROI) highlights that it is not just a trend but a significant shift in redefining customer service. AI’s integration into contact centres significantly boosts operational efficiency, enhances customer satisfaction, and leads to substantial cost savings, all contributing to a favourable ROI.

AI technologies like chatbots, voice recognition, and predictive analytics have transformed customer interactions, making them more efficient, personalised, and accessible around the clock. These advancements have improved the customer experience and freed human agents to focus on more complex and rewarding tasks, enhancing job satisfaction and productivity. The operational efficiencies gained through AI implementation are evident in reduced wait times, quicker resolution of queries, and optimised resource allocation.

The financial implications of integrating AI into contact centres are equally compelling. Reduced operational costs, increased sales through personalised customer interactions, and the ability to scale services without proportionate increases in staffing are clear indicators of positive ROI. Moreover, the data-driven insights provided by AI facilitate continuous improvement and strategic decision-making, further enhancing its value proposition.

The ROI of AI in contact centres extends beyond mere financial returns. It encompasses improvements in customer experience, operational efficiency, and employee engagement. As businesses continue to use AI better, they will become more successful. The importance of AI in shaping the future of customer service and experience cannot be overstated, and its role is likely to grow even more significant in the years to come.




Cirrus is a leading contact centre solutions software company that empowers businesses to deliver exceptional customer experiences. With an unwavering commitment to innovation and seamless solutions, Cirrus provides cutting-edge technology that elevates contact centre performance and drives business growth.

For additional information on Cirrus view their Company Profile

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