Overcoming the Barriers to AI Adoption in Your Contact Centre

As always when new technologies first arrive, it is easy to get swept up in the hype and believe both in the transformative power of the new, and also to feel that you and your organisation are uniquely slow to adopt, and therefore be falling ever further behind the curve.

Whilst this is true for most new technologies, it is turbo-charged with AI – probably not since the internet landed into the public consciousness in the late 90s has a technology been so widely discussed, and so hyped.  Particularly for those of us focused on the contact centre market, and for those of us exposed to the sales and marketing efforts of contact centre service providers and vendors, it is easy to think that AI will take over any day now.

So, what is the reality of AI adoption?  That’s exactly what we are going to explore in this article, and along the way we will look at what you can do to maximise the success of your AI adoption.

Firstly, let’s tackle the elephant in the room – most contact centres just aren’t ready for AI today.  In reality, there are significant barriers just to adopting AI and the biggest of these is the current solution live in your contact centre today.  For almost all organisations, their current platforms just aren’t AI ready – there may be modules in development, or some initial services available that have been hastily badged as AI to get on the bandwagon, but to a large extent full-fat AI services either don’t yet exist, or are being provided by niche vendors that would be challenging to integrate into your existing solutions.  So, AI may exist in some forms, but it almost certainly isn’t available to buy and deploy into your contact centre right away.

The next challenge is to look at what the organisation your contact centre serves really wants.  In most organisations, there is lots of interest in AI, but that hasn’t yet crystallised into specific projects or programmes.  As long as this demand hasn’t yet crystallised into something tangible, it’s very difficult to harness even the technologies that are in the market because it’s not yet obvious what problem they are trying to solve.  If we look at how other technologies have gone from concept to reality, there will be a considerable period of thinking, dipping toes into the water, trying and failing, and other experimentation before organisational leaders start to get a real handle on what they want from their technology, and that is what drives real change.  Of course, those leaders will want and need continual input and insight from technology leaders, but ultimately it’s new demands that will drive new solutions.

The final challenge is how to harness the technology itself.  We’ve all heard amazing things about the abilities of ChatGPT, for example, but many in the technology community have also heard the horror stories of data leakage, hallucinations, and other unexpected outcomes.  All this shows the reality of AI right now – huge potential, but moving from an interesting technology to a technology you can use to transform your contact centre requires a whole host of new thinking – guardrails to protect users and customers, data management to maintain data security, methodologies to track what AI is saying and doing particularly when its interacting with your customers.  That simply isn’t there right – we are sure it will be, but it will take some time.

Put simply, there are challenges – much of the tech is still in development, the organisation isn’t yet sure what it wants, and the rules of the game are yet to be established.  Does that mean you should therefore ignore AI?  Absolutely not – it’s going to be huge, and any self-respecting leader in the contact centre field needs to be across the capabilities and the potential.  However, it does also mean not getting swept up in the hype, not over promising and then under delivering, and not leaving your organisation to be a case study in how not to do it.

So, what should you be doing right now to maximise the benefits of AI for your organisation?  Here at TNC, we’ve been helping organisations navigate complex technology change for 20 years, and AI is no exception.  We’ve been building and are continually updating a toolkit to help you get the best from these changes, and suggest three actions everyone should be taking right now:

  • Evaluate AI Solutions and Use Cases: Research and assess specific AI technologies that align with your contact centre’s goals and challenges. Consider solutions such as natural language processing for improved speech recognition, sentiment analysis to gauge customer emotions, and conversational chatbots for handling routine queries. Evaluate the scalability, integration capabilities, and potential ROI of each solution before implementation.
  • Invest in Employee Training: Recognise that AI is not a replacement for human agents but a tool to enhance their performance. Invest in comprehensive training programs to upskill your workforce on using AI-powered tools effectively. Provide guidance on how AI can streamline workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and empower agents to deliver personalised customer experiences. Encourage a culture of continuous learning to adapt to evolving AI technologies.
  • Data Privacy and Ethics: Ensure that AI deployment complies with data privacy regulations and ethical guidelines. Implement robust security measures to protect sensitive customer information processed by AI algorithms. Establish transparent policies for data collection, usage, and storage, and communicate them clearly to customers. Regularly audit AI systems to mitigate biases and ensure fairness in decision-making processes, fostering trust and credibility with both customers and employees.

How can TNC help?

It isn’t a question of “if” AI adoption in the contact centre is going to happen, and if it is going to have a huge impact – it’s more a question of “when”, quickly followed up by “how”. That means every leader in the field is going to need to get up-skilled on the technologies and, critically, how to apply these technologies to the real world challenges of their organisation. Of course, as with any major tech change, the stakes
are going to be very high for many organisations – not just the need to make the right decisions about technology, operating model, and service providers, but the need to make those decisions quickly, and potentially in a very visible, public setting.
To help leading UK and multinational organisations develop and execute industry-leading strategies for their next generation contact centres, TNC has developed a comprehensive tool kit to support you right through your journey, from developing the technology strategy and building the business case, to supporting your vendor and service provider selection process, assuring your solution deployment, and helping you optimise the solution throughout the lifecycle. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, we would be delighted to talk to you and share our experience and knowledge.

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