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Is AI the key to higher contact center ROI?

Maybe … but first you need the right foundation.
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Over the past year, artificial intelligence (AI) has captured our collective imagination. We’re seeing a surge in interest from IT and business leaders looking for ways to leverage AI to differentiate their customer experience. Of course, we’re also seeing plenty of apprehension. After all, the internet is full of articles and viral videos that show AI making up facts or engaging with a human in a particularly cringeworthy way. 

Here’s the good news: AI isn’t just unproven hype in the contact center. It’s been used for years to help introduce efficiency, consistency, and personalization to the customer experience. Depending on the business objectives that matter most to your organization, there are likely a handful of different ways AI can bring meaningful value to your contact center tech stack right now. 

Here’s the less good news: AI isn’t really the place to start. In fact, AI solutions tend to generate the best results for organizations that have already taken the time to build out a mature cloud contact center strategy first. 

So, if AI is the destination – not the starting point – where should an organization start? 

For most organizations, the path to AI success in the contact center requires four steps. Let’s break it down step by step. 

Step 1: Move to the cloud

Today’s leading cloud contact center platforms – powered by the technology hyperscalers at the forefront of the AI revolution – represent your fastest path to AI. The native AI tools and integrations available in each platform establish a good starting point to begin building AI maturity quickly. 

So, if you’re not currently operating your contact center through a cloud-based platform, this is the single most important decision you need to make. The right decision here will make each of the remaining steps easier, while also building in vital flexibility to adapt to future infrastructure needs as they arise. 

As you navigate the cloud contact center marketplace, consider how your supplementary contact center technologies might integrate into each one. Cloud platforms are not all created equal. One is likely to be a better fit than the others for your current technology landscape and future customer experience vision. Partnering with a technology-agnostic contact center advisor can be a good place to start if you’re unsure which platform is the best fit for you. 

For more tips on choosing the right cloud contact center platform, check out this article

Step 2: Power up your customer data 

Your contact center is full of customer interaction data. In aggregate, this data can tell valuable stories about where your customers are experiencing friction, and how they expect you to solve their problems. But it doesn’t tell the whole story about each customer and their complete relationship with your brand. That’s where your CRM (customer relationship management) solution comes in. If your cloud contact center platform isn’t integrated with your CRM, this should be a priority. 

Once you have all your important customer data resources in one place, it’s time to activate that data at the point of conversation. Consider building out a single-pane-of-glass view for agents to access relevant customer data, as well as business intelligence (BI) dashboards and reports that help them stay on top of important contact center metrics like first call resolution and customer satisfaction. 

Step 3: Unlock digital engagement

One of the main use cases for AI in the customer experience is using it to offload more customer interactions from live agents to virtual agents. While virtual agents can take the place of their human counterparts through both voice and text channels, it has become increasingly clear in the past few years that younger generations have a growing preference for text-based digital interactions with companies.  

This makes digital engagement a critical part of any AI strategy. Not only will you need to turn on all the different voice and text channels available to you in your cloud contact center platform – but you will also need to build out the channel governance to make them work together seamlessly. Journey mapping can be a useful tool for this exercise as you map out when escalations to a live agent should occur, and how handoffs between channels can minimize the frustration that comes with customers repeating themselves.  

Step 4: Deploy AI to deliver a winning brand experience 

Once you’ve built a strong cloud foundation – including leading data and channel strategies – it’s finally time to move on to AI. Many companies are attempting to use AI to solve every challenge right now. While AI can help solve many of them, starting with a smaller scope can help ensure it delivers the intended results. Pointing AI at strategies that help deliver personalized experiences to customers – or help agents deliver personalized experiences – can be a great way to focus your initial efforts. 

Build up quick wins here, and then move on to additional use cases as you find success. Making sure you start your AI investments with a solid cloud foundation can help protect the business case for AI in your contact center, while simultaneously setting your organization up for long-term customer experience success. 

Tiffany Moses Gshwendtner

About the Author

Tiffany Moses Gshwendtner

Global Leader, Genesys Practice

Tiffany brings years of expertise in technology and finance, specializing in CRM, digital transformation, and AI to drive value for TTEC Digital through exceptional customer experience strategies built on Genesys technology solutions.

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