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A new study conducted by Forrester Consulting found high interest among contact centre leaders in adopting AI across the contact centre. Of those polled, 64% plan to increase their AI investment over the coming year.

Contact centre leaders see a range of opportunities for AI to enhance the agent experience. These include personalised agent and customer matching, augmenting agent capabilities to improve productivity, and support for management tasks such as workforce management.

“AI streamlines inquiry capture and resolution. It optimises case routing, classification, and schedule management. It extracts useful information from voice and digital conversations to quickly surface trends in issues and customer sentiment that may affect customer retention and loyalty,” according to the Forrester report, The Three Customer Service Megatrends In 2019 cited in the new Forrester study.

Yet, given the wide-ranging impact of AI, how to best lay the foundation for long-term adoption can be unclear. Contact centre leaders acknowledge that AI requires a strategic, concrete roadmap to minimise implementation challenges, rather than blanket investment. In fact, 77% agree that while AI increasingly peels off simpler customer service requests, it also increases the need for agents to develop additional skills to deal with more complex and higher-value customer inquiries.

Additional findings of the survey conducted for NICE inContact include:

  • Contact centre leaders anticipate a key role for agents alongside growth of AI. 80% of respondents agree that AI would help their contact centers increase agentless interactions. This, however, does not translate to a reduction in agent staff, as 74% of respondent’s state that the number of agents will either grow or stay the same this year. While AI will handle simpler, repetitive interactions, agents are still needed to manage the more complex, higher-value interactions that require advanced skills and additional time to resolve.
  • AI is seen as a competitive differentiator. According to 79% of respondents, AI would enable contact centres to deliver consistent, timely and contextually relevant experiences – a key expectation of today’s customers.
  • Implementation challenges are not deterring customer experience (CX) decision-makers. Of those currently pursuing an AI strategy, 95% are taking steps to overcome AI implementation challenges, primarily by seeking more training, expertise, and support. Agent training is the leading avenue at 44%.

“The Forrester study found that 98% of businesses believe that contact centres are instrumental in improving customer experience. Leveraging AI to increase contact centre operational efficiencies while creating omnichannel agents adept at handling digital as well as voice interactions needs to be a top priority,” said Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO.