Evolving Role of AI in Contact Centres: A Copilot for Customer Service Agents
CONTACT CENTRE / 27 Jun 2023
AI as a Digital Assistant
In the realm of customer service, a trend is emerging—the role of AI as a 'digital assistant', or more aptly, an 'AI copilot'. But how can AI help agents in their day-to-day tasks and equip them to deliver excellent customer service? Let's have a look into the AI copilot role.
AI is not replacing human agents in customer service
Customer service will always need a human touch, and there are some queries that are beyond an AI chatbot’s mandate. But with AI bots becoming ever more competent at handling queries, the role of contact centre agents is changing to one of advisor and guide, especially in the credit and collections space where people need help dealing with their debt.
On the tech side, AI is transforming into an on-the-ball, savvy personal assistant, working alongside agents to help them with productivity, discerning customer vulnerabilities, offering options, and automating routine tasks.
Custom language models for each industry
For an AI chatbot to really be effective at its job, it needs to be trained to operate in the particular industry that’s using it. This is where custom language models (CLMs) come in. CLMs are trained using industry-specific, real-life data, conversations and use cases to build the model, rather than using a catch-all general Large Language Model.
Conversation insights rather than scripted replies
"Contrary to what one might assume, customer service agents usually don't need AI to generate responses for them. In fact, they possess a wealth of knowledge gained through many interactions with customers on a daily basis. What they often desire is an efficient way to identify the right response option," said Paul Sweeney, Chief Strategy Officer at Webio.
Hence, the focus of the AI should lie in providing agents with the clues and options based on how it reads the intents and sentiment of the customer. It can, say, tag a customer as being 'likely to pay', or 'vulnerable' from deciphering their text messages.
The insight that AI can bring from analysing a text can also bring personalised custom care, especially when interacting with people who are in debt and need help finding a way out.
The need for speed and consideration
When it comes to customer support, speed matters, and AI can help agents get to a solution faster. Agents need to quickly discern what actions need to be taken for each customer, and a well-trained AI can pick up on intents in a message and lead agents to prioritise time-sensitive cases and help them to respond most effectively.
For example, contact centres want the AI to grab an agent’s attention, have them pause, reflect, and then respond in the best way. It can highlight, say, an expression of vulnerability and prompt the agent to stop a moment to think, and also present some response options for them to choose from. This helps agents to engage with care and consideration.
Addressing customer vulnerabilities
One way that the power of AI comes to the fore is when customers express financial vulnerabilities. Suppose a customer shares their struggle to pay a bill due to a recent job loss. In such cases, AI digital assistants recognise and label the vulnerability, helping agents respond appropriately. It could be a simple acknowledgment of the situation, expressing empathy and offering support.
On the other hand, it might call for transferring the customer to a specialist trained in handling such cases. This speed in recognising and acting upon vulnerabilities makes all the difference, ensuring customers receive the help they need without delay.
Embracing the AI in contact centre software
While developing an AI capable of understanding every nuance and generating flawless responses may be a vision for the future, the focus at the moment is on using the existing tools effectively. The goal is to prevent customers from waiting too long and to ensure thorough follow-up, especially with people in difficulty. By harnessing the power of AI as a copilot, agents can deliver exceptional service now with the AI tools that are already at their disposal.
Enhanced agent productivity and automation of routine tasks
AI, as a digital assistant, has the potential to completely change the way we work. Using Machine Learning algorithms and Natural Language Processing, AI systems can understand and interpret human language. So, with AI as a copilot, agents can offload mundane and repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic and value-added activities. From ID&V and scheduling appointments to simple balance checks and generating reports, conversational AI can handle routine tasks accurately, saving time and boosting agent productivity.
As a copilot, AI can access backend data through an API connection, providing real-time access to relevant information, which provides the resources for suggesting creative solutions, and even predicting future customer actions. This collaboration between humans and AI has the potential to unlock new possibilities and to foster a culture of innovation.
The role of AI as a digital assistant in customer service is an evolving journey. By working alongside agents, AI technology enhances their ability to provide personalised, efficient, and empathetic support. Recognising the importance of highlighting options, prioritising speed, addressing vulnerabilities and ensuring continued engagement, AI acts as a valuable copilot in the customer service landscape.
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