Event News

AI in the contact centre

Comms Business reports from Call & Contact Centre Expo.

Call & Contact Centre Expo kicked off at London’s Excel late last year. The event showcased the latest and most effective technologies, strategies and advancements to call and contact centre professionals, as well as those in call centre leadership roles.

The busy event included 80 seminar sessions and panel debates led by 90 expert speakers. It also featured live demos of the latest call and contact centre technologies, with the participation of 150 companies.

The packed conference programme included a keynote from Priya Kurien, global telecom leader at IBM, looking at how generative AI can help elevate customer service (pictured above).

She said, “Our view is that contact centres are at various stages of maturity and that range from a managed contact center all the way through to a pioneering contact centre. If you don’t have your house in order, it is not possible to just bring in generative AI. You need to implement it through a set of steps because there are many considerations that will come into play.

“As an example, in a managed contact centre, you might have a small team and agents will be dealing with all kinds of contacts at one time. In an integrated system, agents are separated into handling different types of calls and you start integrating your backend systems as well. At that stage, AI can be included for simple and easy answers on your website. You are able to augment your staff with AI.

“AI can then be extended to slow down speech, for example, if the agent can’t understand someone who is talking very fast. In certain industries, up to 53 per cent of sales happen through digital channels. So the contact centre can become a revenue generator rather than just being a cost centre.”

Elsewhere, Kane Simms, founder and CEO of Vux discussed whether conversational AI is a threat or an opportunity. He explained, “AI is the next wave of technology advancement. If you look around the exhibition, every vendor has AI-first on their booth. It’s the thing everyone is talking about as AI is driving the conversation and most businesses are interested in at least exploring what it might mean for their organisation.”

Simms emphasised the importance of implementing AI only if there is a demonstrable need. He said, “Technology is not the issue. A lot of vendors have similar technologies. You need to figure out what you should do first, how you should approach doing it, and the most effective way of rolling out AI.

“For any business that is interested in AI, the first thing you should do is to look at your customer contacts. Pull that data, analyse it and profile it. Then you can start working through that and finding the most appropriate way to solve your top ten customer needs. AI might be the perfect solution, but there might also be another technology that is the most appropriate.”

The power of messaging

There was also an informative session from David Creasey-Benjamin, future messaging evangelist at Cisco that examined how businesses can be where their customers are, with a particular focus on WhatsApp as an increasingly vital communications channel.

He explained how WhatsApp has added new capabilities for businesses that help customers get in touch in via messaging. Crucially, Creasey-Benjamin said that this can reduce customer calls, with agents able to answer more queries via message.

Creasey-Benjamin explained that the channels a business needs to include within their contact centre is an “ever expanding landscape”.

He added, “We all use messaging but we’re all using something different. And you might even choose a different messaging service for a different audience. I speak to my wife on Facebook Messenger as that’s where she is. I use WhatsApp for work and, if I visit customers in Eastern Europe, I’m using Viber because that’s where people are.”

On the show floor

On the exhibition floor, Nice was showcasing “the experience continuum”, with insight into the company’s CX advisory services. Five9 presented how to “bring joy” into CX with the combination of people and technology. Content Guru was displaying how to deliver personalised experiences to customers to take the pressure off of agents.

Elsewhere, RingCentral was sharing “intelligent connected experiences” for customers and employees, with its portfolio including phone meetings, contact centre solutions and AI solutions. Twilio was presenting how to optimise both customer and agent experiences with data.

Webex was showcasing digital automation, cloud contact centre and video agents. Zoom was exhibiting what it called “one platform to connect” with a focus on its intelligent assistant.

In another place, Gamma was showcasing how to deliver seamless CX through partnerships with Gamma, Cirrus and AWS. 8x8 focused on UI and UX to improve the agent experience, with this combination providing “all the essentials to power a contact centre”.

8x8 also highlighted how to “remove the guesswork from metrics”. Vonage displayed how to deliver personalised connections across every channel with deep integrations.

This article was included in our January 2024 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.