An Expert View of AI and Automation in the Contact Center 

An Expert View of AI and Automation in the Contact Center 

Artificial Intelligence and automation are accelerating the pace of innovation in the contact center. Driving efficiency, enhancing customer experiences, and enabling businesses to scale operations seamlessly, the list of benefits is vast and continues to grow as companies are learning that we are only at the beginning of seeing the innovation to come.  

Ken Workun and Robert Litalien recently shared their insights on the Inflow Experience podcast about the future of AI and automation in the contact center space. This article delves into their perspectives, exploring how these technologies shape the industry and what contact center leaders need to know. 

The Evolution of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) 

The contact center industry has evolved significantly over the past decade, particularly with the advent of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS). Initially, CCaaS offered small businesses a way to establish contact centers without substantial hardware investments.  

Ken details this evolution, explaining, “The cloud enabled small businesses to spin up a contact center without the large investment in hardware. Now those cost savings at scale are paving the way for enterprises to embrace CCaaS in a way no one saw coming.”​​ Taking the best practices from a collection of small businesses and adapting them to large-scale enterprise contact centers has created benefits without the large investment.  

Scalability and Security in The Contact Center 

One critical advancement that has facilitated the widespread adoption of CCaaS is its scalability and improved security. Early adopters, driven by savvy CIOs and CFOs, recognized the potential for cost savings and operational flexibility.  

“With increased bandwidth came increased savings if cloud contact centers could scale, which they could, and they have,” explained Ken. Real or perceived, security was the biggest barrier to adoption.  

Some of those concerns were well-founded, while others came from contact center holdouts who feared change. “Once security concerns were addressed, the platform’s reliability and the ability for agents to work from anywhere became major advantages.” ​​Security in the cloud is on par with, if not exceeding, that of on-premise and will only continue to surpass expectations.  

The Role of AI in Modern Contact Centers 

Initially, AI in the contact center focused on enhancing agent capabilities. Now, AI plays a crucial part in transforming customer interactions. Ken emphasized, “AI in the last year has likely been the biggest changing technology I’ve been part of in my life… The AI around language and representing of language has really created a whole breadth of opportunities within the call center space.”​​ 

Having the ability for agents, virtual or human, to truly comprehend what the customer’s intent is has transformed customer experience. Both Ken and Robert mentioned how the comprehension ability alone reduces confusion, callbacks, average handling time, and more.  

Enhancing Customer Experience with AI 

AI is instrumental in improving customer experiences by handling transactional tasks, thereby freeing human agents to focus on more complex interactions. Ken noted, “The challenge is making sure that you can get the right information to your customers in a timely fashion without destroying your brand based on their experience with your call center agents or their frustration with how long it takes to get in touch with them.”​ 

Robert elaborated on this, explaining how AI is used in hybrid solutions: “We have AI that’s focusing more on transactional operations versus relational operations… Automated systems are good at handling procedural tasks, while agents can focus on more complex, relational issues.”​​ 

AI Is Changing Labor Strategy in Contact Centers 

A common concern about AI adoption is its impact on labor strategy in the contact center. Ken addressed this by saying, “AI is not going to replace jobs. People using AI will. AI will ultimately unleash the call center agent to do more meaningful work and less data lookup tasks and deal with upset folks.”​​ 

AI can significantly enhance agent productivity by automating repetitive tasks, allowing agents to handle more sophisticated customer needs. This ability, coupled with customers’ comfortability with self-service options, has reduced the need for agents to handle the majority of mundane interactions.  

AI-Driven Insights and Analytics 

Beyond enhancing customer interactions and agent productivity, AI also provides valuable insights and analytics. Ken explained, “AI can find things like customer set issues with specific product types by analyzing call transcripts and identifying major complaints. This analysis can offer insights into how products behave in the field, which individual agents might not be able to consolidate effectively.”​​ 

Traditionally, contact centers relied on manual methods to gather and analyze data, which was time-consuming and prone to errors. AI changes this by automating data collection and leveraging advanced algorithms to analyze vast amounts of information quickly and accurately.  

Predictive Analytics and Intent Prediction 

One of the advanced capabilities of AI in contact centers is intent prediction. Robert highlighted this feature: “AI can anticipate a caller’s needs by learning from past interactions. For example, if a customer frequently calls to refill a prescription, the system can predict this need and prompt the action proactively.”​​ 

This level of personalization enhances the customer experience and increases operational efficiency. While customers feel their issue is unique, which it is to them, chances are that their issue has been handled multiple times. Being able to route that call to the right person who knows the best possible resolution benefits everyone in the contact center equation.  

Getting Started with AI Adoption in The Contact Center 

Adopting AI in contact centers can be challenging, and often identifying what the first step is can be the biggest hurdle.  Ken and Robert discussed the importance of starting small and identifying low-hanging fruit for automation. “We can look at call logs or chat logs and determine the types of calls that are most common. Typically, there are three to four use cases that are low-hanging fruit for automation, such as checking account balances or changing passwords.”​​ 

AI Impact Assessment 

To assist organizations in beginning their AI journey, InflowCX offers an AI Impact Assessment. This service analyzes an organization’s interactions—be it voice or digital—and identifies potential areas for automation that offer low risk and high impact.  

“Our goal is to help companies build out their AI strategy over time, starting with easy wins that demonstrate value quickly,” explained Ken​​. Knowing where to start and the impact small wins can make when considering the scale of those wins over time adds up, both financially and from an agent retention perspective.  

Start with the Experts in All Things Contact Center 

The key to successful AI adoption lies in understanding its capabilities, starting small, and leveraging AI to complement human agents rather than replace them. As AI technology continues to evolve, contact centers that embrace these advancements will be well-positioned to deliver exceptional service and achieve operational excellence. 

Taking the first step, or even finding the time for that first step can be difficult. We understand that and the challenges that come with all things contact center. Let’s take that first step together, because we understand no two contact centers are the same. We always take the time to understand your business first and let the solutions follow.