Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

AI, robotics and contact centres

By Emma Taylor

16 Mar 2018

AI, robotics and contact centres

Emma Taylor, Curium’s Head of Transforming Operations reviews the opportunities and challenges contact centres face when implementing artificial intelligence (IA) and robotics technologies.

Contact centres have always embraced technology – from microfiches, printouts and telephones, to email, messaging and omni-channel.

Increasingly, contact centres are using algorithms, robotic process automation (RPA) and bots to help manage customer queries as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In collaboration with the University of Birmingham, Curium supported an MBA research project: ‘To develop insights into how AI and robotic technologies are being used and their potential impacts on the contact centres of the future’.

This research informed our report, ‘AI and robotics: from science fiction to business fact’. Separating hype from reality, we investigate how organisations can make the best use of AI and robotics, and think through the consequences for customers and employees.

We also joined forces with the UK Contact Centre Forum and customer experience specialist Martin Hill-Wilson to run an event looking at both developing technologies and how to deliver successful change.

Round-table discussions prompted some interesting thoughts on the opportunities and challenges facing contact centres when introducing new technologies like IA and RPA.

Opportunities

  • Voice recognition as password – avoid having to take a customer through security would improve the customer experience and reduce the time taken by the agent
  • Automated live chat through recognising key terms
  • Aggregating queries so that phone, email, live chat etc are in one queue
  • Out of office – 24/7 service including escalation
  • Customer satisfaction – immediate feedback on service
  • Demographic shift to digital natives and their preferences
  • Improve the capability of agents and eliminate clunky back office procedures
  • Pick up sentiment and emotion as well as factual data
  • Become a market leader

Challenges

  • Cost
  • Getting the team involved as they might be worried about implications for their jobs
  • Quick wins – what are they?
  • Dependencies – what happens in the event of a failure? Who will remember the manual process?
  • Integration with other applications and upgrades to related systems
  • Quality and accessibility of data
  • Keeping up with changing tech / popular apps
  • Escalation process – when does a person get involved?
  • Early adoption might lead to more problems / frustrations for customers

All were agreed that technology alone doesn’t ‘solve’ anything. The most important thing for contact centres is how to deliver a great customer experience while containing cost. Technology is part of the strategy, but so too are people and processes.

When employees don’t understand why change is needed, or if they are wedded to a particular way of doing things, then they will be reluctant to behave differently.

There is much to think about. In three short videos, Martin Hill-Wilson considers what contact centres should prioritise when thinking about AI and robotics, along with opportunities and challenges.

AI, RPA and bots are changing contact centres, their relationships with customers and their approach to recruiting, training and managing employees. Those in the best shape to deliver effective change will win out. Are you ready to change?

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