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AI will Enhance Contact Centre Support, Not Replace It

Blog Post By Iain Banks, Regional VP International Markets, TTEC

From retail to healthcare, artificially intelligent bots are supporting customers in more and more industries. According to Tata Consultancy Services, 32 percent of major companies are currently applying artificial intelligence to customer service. And more companies are following suit. More than 33 percent of executives indicated that over the next two years, they’ll be investing in AI and robotic process automation for the contact centre, according to Deloitte.

But even AI bots need a human touch.

Humans are still needed to support customers that don’t want to interact with a bot, and to resolve issues that are beyond a bot’s capabilities. As more companies add bots to the workforce, we’ll explain why intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) are the future of bots and why it makes more sense for humans and IVAs to work together.

Building a Smarter Bot

Even chatbots that only answer repetitive questions provide significant cost savings. For every second bots shave off average handling times, contact centres save nearly £727,000 in annual customer service costs, reports Juniper Research. And by 2022, chatbots that are equipped with natural language processing will save companies about £5.8 billion per year in customer supporting costs.

But instead of building a chatbot that is essentially a repackaged FAQ, aim higher by creating an intelligent virtual assistant. An IVA can understand inquiries and sentiment in different languages; “learn” how to respond with personalised and contextual answers, and remember what it learned.

At the same time, IVAs can’t do it all. While customers may be okay with using an IVA for routine issues, humans are needed to resolve confusing or complex situations. Also, bots don’t form relationships with customers—humans do.

Teaming up with a Bot

Instead, envision a hybrid service workforce where IVAs and humans work together to serve the customer. The IVA assists humans by handling common requests and retrieving data, allowing human associates to focus on engaging the customer.

As a result, the human associate’s role in the contact centre and required skill set will shift. Humans will handle complex issues and be skilled in analysis, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. In some cases, the associate may send the customer back to the IVA to complete an interaction, such as processing a payment.

At the same time, humans will continue to train the IVA to be even more efficient in a closed, symbiotic loop.

To learn more about how bots can support—rather than replace—humans in the contact centre, read our ebook, “Don’t Fear the Bots in your Contact Centre.”