CX Leaders: Now Is the Time to Adapt and Embrace AI

Experience transformation: Moving continuously toward more personalized, empathetic interactions for customers and employees. That was the theme of Enterprise Connect 2024. And the most prevalent topic was how to use artificial intelligence (AI) to make that happen.

Experts at the show agreed that the opportunity to use AI for experience transformation makes it an exciting — and rewarding — time to be in the customer experience (CX) business. Everyone from contact center leaders to CIOs were excited to get a better understanding of the technology and learn some best practices for using AI.

Industry growth projections show major gains for the technology. And attendees were gleaning all the insight they could on how to weave AI into their plans to build or optimize their tech stacks.

During the breakout session “Contact Center/CX 2027: What Will Drive the Market,” David Myron, Principal Analyst at Omdia, shared findings from the firm’s recent research on customer experience industry growth. The research firm predicts that global Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) sales will reach $12.7 billion in 2027, up from $7.7 billion in 2023. It’s projected to hit $9.5 billion this year. You can’t have AI without the cloud — and both offer big benefits for businesses.

Harnessing AI Starts in the Cloud

While some attendees were eager to learn how to get started with AI for customer and employee experience, others were focused on enhancing or extending how they use it. Experts advised the first step is to evolve CX platforms to the cloud.

“A cloud solution allows you to have a push-pull model to share data across your entire CX tech stack, which is critical today” said Nathalie DeChellis, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Genesys, during an interview for the CX Green Room show livestreamed from the conference. The cloud provides the agility organizations need today to orchestrate and optimize experiences in real time, she added. And it enables businesses to keep pace with AI’s continual innovation.

A cloud-based CX platform also allows organizations to deliver the personalized, seamless journeys that customers expect. As with any experience transformation initiative, migrating to the cloud isn’t just about technology, noted Elizabeth English, Founder and Principal, EE & Associates, in the session “Keeping Major Contact Center Projects on Track.” Creating a seamless experience requires budget, a detailed plan, supporting resources, training, user adoption and go-live support, she said.

“AI is a magic trick… [but] we’re not all magicians.”
— David Michels, Lead Analyst, TalkingPointz

The other must-have for personalized experiences — especially those powered by AI — is data. Every discussion of AI included a conversation about data.

“AI is a magic trick… [but] we’re not all magicians,” said David Michels, Lead Analyst, TalkingPointz during the “Locknote” session. AI needs data, he noted, but many organizations don’t have the data, or data quality, that’s needed to get the most from AI.

“The magical experience we want is personalized but most of us don’t have the data ready for this either. It’s going to take time to get there,” added Michels.

DeChellis also emphasized the importance of having robust quality data for AI. “Your AI is only as good as your data,” she said.

The opportunity lies in an organization’s “push/pull of data” across its full ecosystem — from CRM systems and behavior data to channel and partner data. Data needs to see the end-to-end journey and the individual interactions within them, she said.

Feeding that journey data back into the system helps organizations balance what customers say they want with what their digital behaviors show, said Brett Weigl, GM, Digital, AI and Journey Analytics during the session “Is Gen AI Already Delivering Business Value to Enterprise CX?”

“Companies want to ground what they’re doing with the data they already have in their system,” he added.

And it’s not just what a business pulls from those integrated systems, said DeChellis. It’s also what that organization generates through service interactions in its contact center and in other channels that can help improve its data pool.

“Continuously evolving the data enables organizations to continuously optimize the experience,” she said.

Generative AI Is the Generating the Most Buzz

Optimizing experiences with generative AI was another main topic at the conference. “Gen AI is now AI on steroids. It’s amazing how it’s matured over the past 12 months,” said Steve Leaden, President and Principal Consultant, Leaden & Associates, during the “Locknote” session.

Myron of Omdia said the top five generative AI technologies that contact centers plan to deploy over the next 12–18 months are document creation for knowledge bases, text chat response, agent assist, post-call notes/summarization, and email responses.

“Gen AI is AI on steroids. It’s amazing how it’s matured over the past 12 months.”
— Steve Leaden, President and Principal Consultant, Leaden & Associates

Robin Gareiss, CEO and Principal Analyst, Metrigy, shared similar findings during the session “Agent Assist and Virtual Assistants: How Are Companies Supercharging Their Agents?” CX leaders who responded to a recent Metrigy survey said generative AI is extremely valuable for productivity-related activities, such as interaction summaries, composing email or chats, content creation for self-service, and generating articles and content for agents to use during customer interactions.

Although it’s still mostly early adopters who are using generative AI for CX and EX, these organizations are seeing good successes, said Blair Pleasant, President and Principal Analyst, COMMfusion, during the “Locknote” session. “Incredible productivity gains are possible if you have a strategy and use cases — and aren’t just using AI for AI’s sake,” she said.

“Auto-summarization is one area where organizations are seeing big gains. They’re saving two to five minutes per call,” said DeChellis.

Gen AI will enable organizations to build better self-service apps and can make deployments of conversational AI and other tools that use it “an order of magnitude faster,” said Max Ball, Principal Analyst at Forrester, during the session “They’re Heeeere: Generative AI Self-Service Applications… Are You Ready?”

“The opportunity is amazing,” he said, adding that the safest place to start with generative AI is interaction summarization, where there’s a human in the loop.

Better Experiences Are Within Reach

The opportunity to provide better customer and employee experiences is amazing. And integrating artificial intelligence into customer experience strategies puts innovation within reach for organizations.

Metrigy research found that the AI applications in broad use right now include (in order):

  • Agent assist
  • Text analytics
  • Translation
  • Natural language processing
  • Speech analytics
  • Conversational AI
  • Transcriptions
  • Predictive AI
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Generative AI

Sixty-nine percent of companies say they planning to spend more on AI to improve customer satisfaction; 26% aim to use it to reduce employee attrition, said Gareiss.

Organizations are applying the technology to many of the activities and interactions they already know and do in the contact center, said Michels of TalkingPointz. But, he said, the opportunity — the true disruption — will come when they apply AI to things they haven’t done before.

Ready to see how AI can transform your business? Read “How to build your business case for AI” to get started.