How AI is enabling contact centre agent performance in 2024

Author: Andy Hemingway | Date: 26/03/2024

The contact centre industry is at a crossroads. Agent retention is declining, with dissatisfied employees leaving their roles because of the constant pressure, not having the right tools to do their job effectively and feeling a lack of empowerment.

Added to that challenge is a declining customer perception of service, with research stating that ‘In 2023 the proportion of those who believe customer service is worsening (34%) is now almost double the proportion of those who believe service is improving (18%).’ CCMA – Voice of the Contact Centre Consumer Research 2023).

Without doubt, AI is revolutionising the world with rapid advancements across all industries. But for contact centre leaders, navigating the AI technology market can be tough.

The rapidly growing number of AI technology vendors in the contact centre market can make it hard to understand which option is the right choice, with overlapping functionalities, exaggerated claims and legitimate security considerations.

Digital barriers for solutions like chatbots and IVRs are also more common with many customers finding them frustrating and ineffective, impacting their experience.

But, despite those challenges, ignoring AI isn’t an option. To stand out in their industries, contact centres must find a way to embrace AI effectively. The businesses who are leading the way in terms of agent experience and reducing churn are those who are using innovation to overcome challenges as well as meeting the changing demands of customers. They are achieving that through AI-powered contact centre technology platforms.  

In this article, we’ll explore the challenges faced by contact centre agents, how AI can be leveraged to overcome them whilst also enhancing agent performance and we’ll share some important considerations when choosing an AI-powered technology vendor.

Why are contact centre agents struggling in 2024?

Contact centre agents face a number of challenges in their role which are all contributing to declining retention and satisfaction levels. Here are some of the key factors:

Lack of training

It’s hard for contact centres to adapt training programs or find the time to train agents to keep up with changing customer demands, processes and regulatory guidelines. This can leave agents feeling ill-equipped to handle complex enquiries increasing the pressure in their role.

Inadequate technology

Outdated technology can be a major source of frustration for agents. Disparate systems, slow or clunky interfaces and limited access to customer data can make it harder to resolve issues efficiently.

Difficult interactions

Contact centre agents often face emotionally charged and physically draining interactions. Dealing with frustrated, angry or upset customers on a daily basis can take a significant toll on their well-being and contribute to burnout.

Feeling undervalued

This can stem from factors including low wages, limited career progression opportunities, lack of personalised coaching and not receiving recognition for their performance.

Lack of in-role support

With increasing pressure to meet performance targets, but with limited access to real-time guidance, coaching and problem-solving assistance, agents feel demotivated, disengaged and stressed.

How can AI support contact centre agent performance?

With the right AI technology in place, contact centres can overcome the challenges faced by their agents and empower them to perform at their best, delivering an exceptional customer experience.  

Here are 3 ways AI supports agent performance and improves retention rates in contact centres.

Frees up agents’ time so they can focus on higher value tasks

AI can automate repetitive tasks like call logs and data capture, freeing up valuable time for agents so they can focus on more complex customer interactions and problem-solving.

AI-powered contact centre solutions also make information easier to find through intelligent search functionalities, reducing the unnecessary time agents spend looking for customer contact history and documentation.

Spending less time gathering information and more time focused on their conversations and solutions leads to a more positive experience for everyone as quoted in a McKinsey & Company report: ‘In this case, generative AI freed up service representatives to focus on higher-value and complex customer inquiries, improved representatives’ efficiency and job satisfaction, and increased service standards and customer satisfaction.’

Guiding agents through complexity

Contact centre agents often have to deal with complex enquiries that mean navigating multiple systems, policies, and procedures.

AI can act as a virtual assistant, providing agents with real-time guidance and step-by-step instructions to help them reach a successful outcome. This can include suggesting relevant knowledge base articles, recommending next steps or even offering scripted, but human-sounding responses for common scenarios.

Contact centre AI-powered platforms can present customer information in a single, unified desktop, eliminating the need for agents to switch between multiple screens and applications. This streamlined workflow reduces pressure and enables agents to focus solely on the customer.

Unlocking performance improvement data

AI can be used to analyse customer interactions and identify areas for improvement in agents’ performance.

Generative AI is a form of AI that’s capable of generating human-like text. So, an agent asking the question, ‘What could I have done better?’ could receive a human-like response, highlighting any missed opportunities or suggesting alternative approaches. This personalised feedback can be highly valuable for agents, helping them to identify areas for improvement and giving tangible insights into how they can increase their effectiveness on calls.

This type of AI also provides valuable feedback to line managers on every interaction. It would be impossible to manually listen to every single call and provide coaching back to the agent in real-time, but this becomes the norm with AI-powered technology. Managers gain true insights into their teams’ performance and can help agents to improve their skills.

What to look for in an AI-powered contact centre platform vendor

With so many options to choose from, choosing the right vendor can feel like a challenge. Here’s what to look for so you can be sure you’re making the right choice:

Capability – will it makes things better for agents and customers?

The vendor’s technology capabilities should align with your specific customer use cases. Does it offer features that solves the unique challenges in your business, supports agents and meets the needs of your customers? Look for vendors with solutions that can automate repetitive tasks, provide real-time guidance to agents and generate actionable performance insights.

Cost – does it meet your budget?

Consider the total cost when you’re evaluating and comparing vendors, including ongoing subscription costs and implementation expenses. Choose a vendor that offers affordable and accessible pricing that meets your budget and long-term goals.

Ease of use – will it make your teams’ lives easier?

Is the AI solution intuitive and user-friendly for agents and supporting teams? Are you able to adapt things quickly without having to wait for in-house IT teams to make changes for you? Investigate how easy it is for agents to navigate; AI-powered platforms should feel enjoyable to work with. Ask any vendors you short-list to provide case studies that demonstrate a seamless experience and positive agent feedback.

Security – will it keep your data protected?

Security is crucial, especially when dealing with customer data and sensitive business information.  Check that the vendor complies with any relevant industry regulations and has robust security measures to protect your data. Vendors should deploy AI solutions through managed and secure platforms like Azure.

Awaken Intelligence – powering exceptional customer interactions and increased agent satisfaction through AI

At Awaken Intelligence we’re pioneers of innovative and AI-powered, flexible software to help you see the complete picture for your contact centre.

Our revolutionary agent assistance tool is a secure and easy-to-use real-time assistant that automates repetitive tasks and improves the agent’s ability to manage complex customer interactions.

Our solution leverages Microsoft Azure’s OpenAI capabilities. This not only means it’s incredibly secure but it can utilise ChatGPT to deliver services such as call summarisation, knowledge-base lookup, and even allow the agent to interrogate the interaction data itself.

If you’d like to see for yourself how we’re improving the agent and customer experience through secure and reliable AI-powered contact centre technology, book your free demo.