AI and the Future of the Call Center

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Whether you’re celebrating the development of artificial intelligence or you’re worried about the machines taking over, the AI revolution is definitely on its way. It’s still too early to tell how AI innovations might change the technological landscape, but we do know some of the ways that AI is already improving the virtual call center.

The engaged agent

Early AI skeptics made dire predictions about huge upticks in unemployment as robots and technology took over human jobs. Yet the exact reverse has been the case so far, and artificial intelligence actually seems to be inspiring creativity and job fulfillment rather than taking away jobs.

So what’s happening? The most prominent theories are that automation and intelligent machines are taking all the hum-drum, monotonous jobs that humans hate. In the process, they don’t cause unemployment; rather they open up new opportunities as people find themselves free to do more meaningful work.

In customer service, the newest call center software will take away some of the most exhausting aspects of agent work, like facing an angry caller without the expertise or knowledge to solve the problem. AI is taking over the dull tasks and ensuring that calls get routed to the right person for more satisfied customers (and agents).

The proactive agent

We’ve all been there, either on the giving or receiving end. A customer or client has a real, significant issue, but there’s nothing in the “script” for dealing with it. The agent keeps repeating stock phrases, the customer feels misunderstood and sidelined, and everyone becomes frustrated.

AI has the power to change this. With a versatile, agent-empowering, intelligent system in place, companies can give agents significant leeway to resolve issues while still keeping within cost margins. We’re just seeing the beginning of what AI can do in this regard.

As a result, agents feel empowered and gain job satisfaction from successfully solving issues. Customers are more likely to come away satisfied. Improving employee motivation and customer satisfaction while staying within budget is the Holy Grail of customer service goals.

The knowledgeable agent

Nothing is more frustrating for agents or callers than a lack of information. Increasingly, callers assume that the person on the other end of the phone knows all about the communication they’ve already had, through email or chats, for example.

The latest call center software is omnichannel: coordinating all channels of communication and integrating them seamlessly, so that agents have what they need at their fingertips. Before they engage with a caller, they have names, interaction history, and the outcome of all previous communication.

The AI of the future will go even farther. It will be able to analyze similar calls by the thousands and even hundreds of thousands and use that to predict the best course of action. It will be able to present agents with useful tips about what tack to take and what solutions might work with a particular caller.

Call centers and the future of customer service

One of the fundamental truths about technological development is that we have a tendency to underestimate the possibilities of the future. It can be hard to imagine what doesn’t exist yet, but in call center developments, it’s possible that the future will see software that can pick up on caller emotion by voice tone, and then notify agents.

We may see software capable of changing an agent’s voice to eliminate any undertones of frustration, anger, or sarcasm. Smart tech of the future might have many ways of diffusing situations so that agents are less stressed and customers are better satisfied.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear: providing good customer service will always be key. Anything that can help your call center do just that is a useful innovation.