I’ve been asked by Contact Center Pipeline to lend my voice to an article on contact center trends for 2024. I wouldn’t dare write about it without talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). But here’s the $64,000 question: Will it be the breakthrough that contact centers are hoping for, or another technology that falls short of expectations? That depends on how we apply it!
Like so many contact center technologies that have come before it, AI is riding a wave of hype that makes everyone think they better jump on board. The analysts, vendors, and yes, consultants, tout its magical powers. Contact center leaders – or their bosses – are sure if they could just make this next investment, contact volumes and handle times will decrease, customer experiences will soar (and translate into great NPS and revenue numbers!), and maybe even create happier agents that are more productive and don’t leave so soon.
With that grand vision, it’s important to keep in mind that AI is not something that you just buy, turn on, and let it run. It needs careful design to apply it well, tuning to get it just right, and adaption as things change. Whether manifested in a bot, routing, forecasts, schedules, agent assist and knowledge management, or interaction analytics, AI needs experienced and diligent people to work with it.
The largest centers, with the most money and staff, are going to lead the breakthrough scenarios. They have the teams to work with the technology, along with vast amounts of data and sandboxes to play in. They have leadership support that goes beyond hope to strategy and commitment. The small and medium-sized centers, of which there are many, will need to count on the vendors or their value-added reseller (VAR) partners to get off the ground with AI capabilities, and then find ways to optimize and extend what they do with it. That means funding in-house analysts (something I have lobbied for countless times) and/or paying third parties to provide the focused services required.
In the 1988 film, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the animated character Jessica Rabbit famously said, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” My clarion call about AI and how we make it a breakthrough technology for all contact centers boils down to how we “draw it” – with vision and insight along with experts and animators who bring it to life, monitor and optimize it, and keep it from going astray. The technologies that have come before it and fallen short weren’t bad; they were just drawn that way.