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Tuesday, 31 March 2020 15:59

How artificial intelligence will reshape the contact centre in 2020

Brendan Maree 8x8 Brendan Maree 8x8

GUEST OPINION by Brendan Maree, VP Asia Pacific 8x8: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have generated a lot of excitement and hype during the past few years. In 2020, this hype will become reality within growing numbers of contact centres.

AI tools are already being put to work in a number of business areas. Organisations are using the technology to streamline workflows and reduce costs. According to research from McKinsey, 58 per cent of organisations have already deployed at least 1 AI-powered tool within a process or product. This is an increase from 47 per cent in 2018.

As usage expands, the goal for AI and ML deployments will shift from cost reduction and operational improvements to generating business growth. By analysing data, predicting trends and behaviours, proactively assisting staff, AI tools will become invaluable for organisations looking to increase market share and boost their bottom line.

AI in the contact centre

AI is not a new concept within contact centres, but the role it plays will expand during the next 12 months. Customer experience (CX) solutions powered by AI will rapidly evolve while silos of data within contact centres will be combined with data sourced from across the business.

The result will be the delivery of much more accurate and powerful results. CX-focused organisations will quickly realise that this newfound flexibility and greater integration with a wider suite of AI solutions will be a significant growth driver.

From the customer perspective, AI-powered contact centres will have much to offer. Virtual sales assistants will be introduced that can make relevant product and service suggestions to centre staff in real time. Rather than the customer having to wait while a staff member checks for details or figures out which product option is best, that information will be instantly at their fingertips. For customers, this will mean a much faster and more satisfying service. They’ll be receiving information tailored to their specific requirements without the need to wait.

After a sale has been completed, intelligent, AI-powered recommendation engines will proactively offer complementary products via digital marketing campaigns. Rather than seeing ads for the product they have just purchased, customers will be incentivised to purchase new items.

The result will be higher customer satisfaction and increased profits. According to McKinsey, 80 per cent of respondents say they enjoyed an average revenue increase of 5 per cent or more when using AI to support their sales and marketing activities.

At a higher level, AI will also improve customer experiences by better enabling information and resources to be drawn from across an organisation. Rather than having to deal with different departments for different tasks, customers will be able to interact with a single staff member who has access to all services.

During 2020, more organisations will also use AI tools to connect the data gaps that often exist between cloud-based communication solutions and contact centres. This will ensure a consistent customer experience and deliver the organisation a holistic view of all interactions.

An AI-powered future

When considering AI, it’s easy to focus on its use in things such as self-driving cars and drones. However its increasing deployment within contact centres is equally important. Together, AI and ML tools will allow organisations to have much better insight into their customers and put them in a far better position to improve levels of service and satisfaction.

AI may not yet have changed the world as some industry watchers predicted – but its development and deployment is far from finished. During the coming year, as usage rises, substantial business benefits will be realised by growing numbers of organisations. The truly AI-powered contact centre will have become a reality.

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