AI in Customer Experience Is All About Frontline Employees

“Is AI going to take over the work we’re doing in the contact centre?”

Brad Cleveland, Founding Partner and Senior Advisor at ICMI, kicked off the 2023 ICMI conference in Orlando with this question. It’s one on the minds of most customer experience (CX) leaders right now. And, while no one expects artificial intelligence (AI) to fully replace customer service operations, many conference speakers and attendees were speculating how CX will evolve in the age of AI.

One common theme was how AI would impact the employee experience (EX), including the role of frontline contact center staff.

In her session, “How Successful Companies Build Top-Tier Contact Centre Staff,” Robin Gareiss, CEO and Principal Analyst at Metrigy, shared findings from the firm’s research on where some companies are focusing their AI efforts related to CX employees.

Gareiss noted that 83% of organizations are either transforming or have just transformed something in CX that drives measurable outcomes. Of those, 41% have updated or launched generative AI, virtual assistants and chatbots.

Based on Metrigy research, the AI-related areas Gareiss expects to see the most growth for use are predictive analytics, sentiment analysis and generative AI. She also said more companies are using AI to help train and onboard frontline CX employees.

When it comes to impact, the results are notable. Agent assist is the top AI-led application contact centres are using, at 40% as of June 2023. Those who use it have seen average handle time drop by about 27%, said Gareiss. And of the 40% who measure its impact, 34% have seen an increase in revenue, 40% in customer ratings and 32% in agent efficiency.

Among the 38% of organisations that pair agents with virtual assistants, those agents can handle 7.7% more simultaneous chats.

Metrigy research also found that, in 2023, organisations without AI needed to hire 2.3X more new agents than businesses that use it. The average number of agent-hires for companies using AI was 39. But that number balloons to 91 for companies not using AI. According to Gareiss, this translates to about $4.3 million in average savings in staffing costs.

“The average being spent on AI right now is about $500,000,” she said. “If you can spend that and save $4.3 million, that’s substantial.”

Using Technology to Improve the Human Experience

In their session, “Discover How AI Can Drive Better Employee Experience and Improve Engagement,” Natalie Abad, Product Marketing Manager at Genesys, and Michael Logan, Senior Solutions Consultant at Genesys, recommended three AI-led EX strategies that each can help improve job satisfaction and employee performance:

Improve agents’ data-to-day processes and workflows with generative AI and automation. This approach not only helps agents by providing information to them so they can resolve customer issues faster, but it also transcribes calls in real time. Agent engagement and efficiency rise as a result.

Increase employees’ motivation with gamification. Leaderboards and scorecards allow agents to see their performance versus team KPIs, as well as their teammates’ standings. This translates to friendly competition and provides visibility that ensures agent growth and development. These AI-based tools also help supervisors see snapshots of performance and provide next-best actions for coaching.

Deliver next-best actions to move interactions quickly forward. Prompt agents in real time with insight into the next-best action they should take with a customer, or that they can recommend the customer take. This improves handle time and customer satisfaction.

Each of these strategies use AI technologies to improve the human (agent) experience. “AI tools like agent assist makes agents smarter,” said Robert Beasley, Director, Strategic Solutions at Genesys, during his session, “The Race to Hyper-Personalised Experiences.” These technologies also help to reduce the stress of complex interactions, he said.

The result? Improvements in agents’ satisfaction and performance — and that all translates to increased engagement and a boost in motivation.

“This job is about people. It doesn’t matter what AI does, it’s still about people,” Tim McElgunn, Principal Analyst of ICMI, said during his session, “What’s Coming to the Contact Centre in 2024.”

Cleveland of ICMI agreed. “Contact centres are playing an integral part of an organisation’s service ecosystem,” he said. “If AI takes over the world, we’ll be the last ones standing.”

Check out this on-demand webinar “Unleashing the power and possibility of AI” to learn more about how you can use AI to improve your customer and employee experiences.