The AI Impact on Contact Centres During the Pandemic

Author: Chris Robinson | Date: 09/11/2021

Through the pandemic, virtually no aspect of business practice has stayed the same. Companies have had to revolutionise the way they work to adapt to homeworking, to quickly launch new products to meet the needs of the times we were living in and to rise to the challenge of increased customer expectations. It isn’t surprising that when combining the rapid pace of change with the emotionally turbulent time, customer service levels have been impacted. Through this article, we’ll share which industries have thrived, achieving high levels of customer satisfaction, which have found it more challenging and uncover the impact that AI has on contact centre service.

AI’s effect on contact centre service during the pandemic

We surveyed 750 UK contact centre customers to understand their feelings about service over the last twelve months. The two industries that came out as clear leaders were finance and banking with 23% of respondents stating their service was the best and 20% choosing consumer goods companies as their top industry for excellent service. It’s perhaps not surprising that these two came out on top. The finance and banking industry were supported via various government schemes, offering vital and well-received initiatives to the public, and many buyers enjoyed the opportunity to shop online to relieve the monotony of lockdown periods, boosting the consumer goods industry. But this would also have meant an increase in demand to speak to contact centres, which could have negatively impacted service levels. To mitigate this, the right AI had to be in place to support contact centre agents with their process knowledge and provide a crucial element to maintaining high service levels.

Which industries have been hit hardest by COVID-19?

The two industries scoring the lowest for customer service were utilities (18%) and travel (14%). With people staying at home prompting an increase in utility bills and travel grinding to a halt, it is understandable that these two industries have been rated in this way. But, through our research, we also found that speaking to chatbots or pre-recorded lines is the number 1 irritation for the public when it comes to calling contact centres, showing that even in a technology-focused world, we still prefer speaking to a human. Despite the fact that these two industries were facing challenging customer situations, there were still opportunities to deliver a high level of service, influenced by the contact centre AI they deployed.

How has this impacted the delivery and expectation of customer service in these industries?

With the ability to instant message, customer behaviour has changed, people expect quick answers regardless of the channel they use to contact the business. With ever-increasing complexities in the process due to enhanced regulations, it can be difficult to get it right the first time, particularly when you consider the high churn rate of agents. Customers expect a human experience, but an efficient experience when they call a contact centre, they don’t want to feel that they are just being read a script. Overall, customer expectations on service and experience have increased, with many industries unable to keep up, something that has been reflected in our survey results.

How can customer service issues be reduced in contact centres?

As reported by, AI is revolutionising the contact centre world, uncovering opportunities to provide ‘strategic, value-adding capabilities that sit at the heart of the modern customer experience.’ With AI becoming ever more intelligent and innovative, it is a critical consideration when industries need to deliver efficiencies to enable them to deal with increased call levels but without detrimentally impacting the customer experience. The operational improvements that AI brings reduce call lengths and training times to benefit contact centre financials but also makes a huge difference to customer experience.

Using AI in a contact centre

With so many options for contact centre AI, it can be overwhelming to know which could bring the most benefits to maintain or increase customer service levels. Over our long history in the contact centre industry, here are the two AI solutions that can be a gamechanger for your contact centre in terms of increasing efficiency and customer service levels.

  • Conversational Analytics – Combining speech analytics and voice analytics creates a powerful tool for contact centre leaders to uncover and understand tone and sentiment to capture the real voice of customers and agents. This provides valuable early insights in where customer service is being negatively impacted so that steps can be proactively taken to improve.
  • Dynamic Call Scripting and Intelligent Guidance – Through intelligent agent guidance and call scripting, your agents will be presented with the information they need, exactly when they need it, reducing call handling times and increasing capacity.

When you combine different elements of contact centre AI like conversational analytics and call scripting, you can start to see the complete picture for your contact centre. You’ll have the ability to connect people and data to understand how to delight your customers and improve the performance of your contact centre. The visual analytics of key trends will give you actionable insights on how to improve performance.

What does the future of contact centres look like with AI?

Whilst historic AI may have felt clunky and difficult to work with or change, innovative strides forward have meant that this technology is now at the forefront of supporting high levels of service as seen in some of the top-scoring industries in our survey. As leaders of emerging contact centre AI, we know first-hand the difference this technology can make. Our customers reap the benefits, seeing notable differences in their KPIs and reductions in operating costs. At a rapidly increasing rate, contact centres that don’t embrace AI face are being left behind, without the ability to deliver the service that their customers deserve and expect.

If you’d like to see a demo showing how the Awaken platform could revolutionise your contact centre and support you in delighting your customers, please fill out the form below and one of the team will be in touch to arrange a meeting with you.