Artificial intelligence for customer center is a hot subject. One industry analyst recently shared that, starting a few months ago, more than 75% of the firm’s customer inquiries were to discuss just one topic: Using AI to improve contact centers.

What are some key insights regarding contact center and AI?

1. AI is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The top four priorities for contact center have remained consistent for many years:

  • Optimize the human element in the contact center
  • Save customer time and effort through automation and self-service tools
  • Consolidate applications to reduce IT footprint
  • Drive towards personalization of the customer experience

AI can help further address self-service outcomes by helping you deepen offers through more natural and intuitive interfaces. “How may we help you?” will become the most common question companies ask in their self-service offers compared to today’s largely static interfaces.

2. AI will be everywhere, pervasive and integrated. The nature of AI is such that you can infuse it into existing business processes. When executed well, AI should be unnoticeable to your customer, but result in more delightful and efficient experiences. Some customer-facing processes will be completely AI driven, while others will use AI to improve portions of existing processes. It will become increasingly more difficult to discern when AI is part of a business process – in a good way.

3. Innovative AI will come from many vendors. While most people associate contact center AI specifically with chatbots, many forms of AI will impact the entire contact center  value chain. For example, conversational assistants, driven by AI and machine learning will impact everyday life outside of contact center situations. Likewise, vertical AI solutions will drive new value beyond horizontal applications like search, tailored to the specific needs of that industry.

4. Without context, AI just artificial and not intelligent. AI needs data and context to be intelligent. AI-driven contact center processes will only be as good as the quantity and quality data provided to them, whether by human or non-human sources. For example, contact center agents will be a primary source of “training” AI for care by providing input and context to improve AI-driven care outcomes.

5. Cisco AI is connected to context. We recognize that contact center without context will disappoint. Cisco Context Service is a cloud-based source of interaction data used to deliver deep insights into your customers’ journeys. You can use this context to adjust routing, treatments, and provide insight to center agents at key moments of truth in the interaction. Don’t punish your customers for using self-service. Using context lets you provide one continuous experience for customers when the transition for self-service/bots requires a live agent.

6. AI can improve all parts of traditional contact centers. Beyond just self-service, you can integrate AI functions to improve call routing, reporting, and the agent experience. AI will be pervasive through the entire contact center software stack. For example, you can improve accuracy by infusing AI-based intent further in the decision process. You can enhance reporting with insights gained by combining AI and context, fueling deeper insights into customer behavior.

7. AI is far from perfect and will need human assistance at times. While aggressive predictions indicate that AI will displace a large swath of human resources in contact center, AI’s impact in that regard is many years down the road. Therefore, a smooth continuous escalation from AI driven self-service to live assistance is critical to delivering a Connected Digital Experience for customers.

Next Steps: What to do?

  • Stay the course with the goals of your contact center strategy. These likely involve improving service outcomes while addressing your cost-to-serve profile. However, recognize there are new AI-driven tools that can impact both.
  • Drive AI to improve both the customer and agent experience. A majority of existing AI efforts focus around customer-facing processes, such as chatbots. These can improve agent experiences by augmenting complex interactions with AI-driven context.
  • Consider AI first as a way to augment, rather than replace existing processes. To gain momentum, and avoid poor first impressions, consider AI technologies as a complement to your existing stable of contact center processes – rather than complete replacements.

The next several years will show much progress in the realm of AI and contact center. This should result in lower cost and better service for customers globally. In the interim, stay tuned as Cisco continues to drive innovative solutions to improve contact center globally.

Read more about extending your existing contact center experiences with this Connected Artificial Intelligence white paper.


Zack Taylor


Cisco Global Collaboration