Artificial intelligence is transforming the contact centreContact centres are already using artificial intelligence (AI) along with big data to anticipate a customer’s enquiry and predict what they want to discuss. Virtual assistants provide instant help throughout any interaction, and human agents are available to deal with more complex issues when required. Machine learning, where computers are effectively able to programme themselves by adapting to changing circumstances and data, will also contribute to increasing contact centre automation. Quite simply, the future of AI in the contact centre is one where software tools make humans more efficient. Let’s illustrate contact centre AI in action with a brief example: It’s late on Saturday night when Alice’s car breaks down in a remote location. She calls her breakdown service rescue line for help – she’s been a member for 10 years and never called before. AI at the breakdown service contact centre identifies Alice’s call as urgent and places it at the head of the queue. It then finds out how long she’ll have to wait for help and shows that to the agent when they answer her call. The AI used the context of Alice’s call to judge its purpose and urgency and then routed her call appropriately. Alice explains to the contact centre agent that she needs to be towed home – the agent’s screen updates with a map of the area where she has broken down together with real-time locations of roadside assistance vehicles nearby – and the nearest tow truck is highlighted. All this happens without any instruction from the agent because a virtual assistant is listening to the call and using natural language processing to pull out key terms. The virtual assistant also sends details of the job directly to the nearest tow truck driver and displays an ETA on the agent’s screen. This kind of technology is available now, and it’s already starting to transform the way contact centres are able to work.
Virtual reality will elevate the customer experienceVirtual reality (VR) is another technology that will impact on the customer service and contact centre efficiency. For example, consider the potential difficulties of dealing with a customer who requires detailed technical assistance. Often, agents must try to work out the nature of the problem from the customer’s description, which might not always be accurate. It’s also difficult for the agent to determine if the customer has followed all the necessary steps and to visualise progress. A VR interaction would work well in this situation as the customer can share what they are seeing and doing, and the agent can put themselves in the customer’s shoes during the trouble-shooting process. The reality of adopting this kind of approach might seem farfetched – but the cost of VR devices is falling, and the availability of applications is increasing rapidly. At the same time, experimentation with haptic technology will bring a tactile dimension to the VR experience, while research into brain-to-brain communications is opening up incredible new possibilities and contributing to accelerating VR innovation. For example, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has already launched a business to develop a brain-computer interface called Neuralink that can be implanted in the human brain with the purpose of helping human beings merge with software and take advantage of artificial intelligence. Even for the contact centre of the not too distant future, VR offers the potential of an exciting and immersive experience, with a blend of real and virtual worlds and a way to truly enhance customer engagement. To learn more about how the right choice of cloud phone system or contact centre can improve your customer experience, see our 2017 Top Tips.
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