AI in the contact centre

Developing an organisation-wide AI capability is rising up the corporate agenda and according to Cirrus CEO Jason Roos contact centre applications are blazing the trail with use cases driving productivity and new business.

Artificial Intelligence is transforming the contact centre, automating tasks and workflows that traditionally require human intervention. And according to Roos, these developments provide various threads of opportunity that can be woven together and delivered through a single all-embracing AI platform. This is a far cry from the performance of most contact centres today which fail to meet SLA and CX objectives, claimed Roos, who pointed to the downward pressure on payroll costs creating a shortage of people to deal with contact volumes.

“The ability to combat this challenge by making agents more productive is key,” he stated. “We can shift contact from synchronous, one-to-one in a phone call, to asynchronous, or one-to-many via webchat or WhatsApp. We can also use engineering improvements to facilitate agent workflows.”

As well as boosting productivity, Roos noted that wait times will become a bane of the past thanks to AI. “You’ll have somebody who can answer any question across the entire business instantly,” stated Roos. “Our mission is to eliminate poor customer experiences and we’re reaching a point where we can achieve that goal. We’ll also see cost reductions. Contact centres have a high staff turnover so you’re constantly training. Being able to shorten training lead times will help to reduce those costs.”

Roos noted that in practical terms, ChatGPT, or any large language model, will be able to learn training manuals within a couple of hours. “AI will massively shorten training lead times which will improve first contact resolution and improve customer experiences,” he added. “AI will have all the information – this is a game changer.”

AI also enables the creation of hybrid working models, where the AI assists both the agent and the consumer by automating tasks and contact workflows, leading to much needed productivity and CX gains. This may prompt some people to think that AI will replace human agents, but that’s not the case, pointed out Roos. “We are not seeing a reduction in agent headcount because there was too much work to start with,” he stated. “What we are seeing is significant improvements in SLA and CX.

“While the emergence of advanced AI like GPT-based models has been anticipated to reduce the need for human contact centre agents by handling repetitive and simple customer interactions, the integration of AI into online customer service may, paradoxically, result in an increase in qualified contact volumes and an increase rather than a decrease in agent employment.”

According to Roos, the contact centre industry is going to move into a space where businesses are able to increase their revenue significantly. He says AI will give them the ability to sell more, citing greater website engagement as an example. This is good news because the hardest and most challenging task for most businesses is generating new business.

“Our goal is to provide a solution that will engage everybody who hits a website, qualify those that are monetisable and where there’s a business case feed them through to the contact centre,” he added. “Those that aren’t monetisable can also be answered when the website isn’t able to give them what they want.”

Against this backdrop of market potential Cirrus has introduced its latest upgrade, which draws together key contact centre tools and technologies onto a single platform, including CRM, workforce optimisation, and omnichannel features such as outbound dialler, drag-and-drop IVR and workflow builder, plus agent scripting – with a single log-in. “Bringing these elements onto one platform also makes it easier to deploy generative AI like Cirrus’ new AI assistant called Cirrus Copilot,” added Roos.

He says the new platform will enable businesses of all sizes to create more personalised experiences with AI driving the conversation. He cited a practical example. “The real-time agent assistance feature creates a live transcription of the call which is processed in real-time by AI which absorbs the specifics of the customer’s query along with the agent’s response,” explained Roos. “AI can then apply that knowledge immediately to provide the agent with moderation or next best actions.”

Also, connecting AI to the omnichannel platform enables the product to consume every email, WhatsApp message, SMS, webchat and voice call that’s been transcribed and that the business has ever created. “But then you have to moderate and organise the content so that ChatGPT is giving the answer you really want,” stated Roos. “Once the training is completed it has access to the full omnichannel contact centre capability excluding voice. We’ll continue to expand AI capabilities with more integrations and enhance the overall user experience.”

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