New Calabrio Research: AI will Impact Customer Service Agents, But Not How We Anticipate
A Global Study of Contact Center Leaders Explores the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Activating the Agent of the Future
Minneapolis, MN — September 21, 2023 — Calabrio, the workforce performance company, has released its annual analysis of the contact center market, the State of the Contact Center 2023: Activating the Agent of the Future. The report highlights the essential role of hybrid and remote contact center agents, the expected impact of artificial intelligence (AI), and agents’ readiness to act as brand guardians in the face of evolving consumer demands.
Anticipating the Agent Workforce Evolution with AI
Calabrio surveyed 400 contact center managers from across 10 countries, 4 age groups, and 6 industries. While there is much debate in the market, this report’s response is clear: AI won’t be used to entirely replace agents. In fact, over two-thirds of contact center managers predict an increase in the number of agents over the next decade and believe AI’s greatest promise is its ability to make agents’ jobs easier and more productive.
However, managers expressed that agents are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AI-fueled future. If contact centers are not giving agents the skills to adapt and develop, they are already falling behind.
“The role of technology, including AI, is poised to gain even greater momentum in the contact center—we’re already seeing customers embrace automation and AI-fueled analytics to maximize their operations,” says Kevin Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calabrio. “But when technology removes a large portion of the administrative tasks from humans, agents will need to adapt to embrace complex customer inquiries and become true brand guardians.”
Leveraging AI as a Catalyst for Agent Productivity
According to contact center managers, AI has the potential to optimize business processes and create visibility and efficiencies. Managers ranked these features of AI as most impactful:
- Augmenting agent and manager productivity (25%)
- Optimizing forecasting and scheduling (20%)
- Measuring and understanding contact center productivity (20%)
- AI-driven chatbot services to customers (20%)
This focus on how AI can improve productivity is critical as customer experience (CX) organizations are looking for ways to boost productivity post-pandemic. Just 49% of managers believe that remote workers are meeting productivity expectations today, which is 24% lower than in 2020.
Critical Thinking—The Most Needed Skill, And the Most Lacking
97% of consumers agree that customer service interactions have a direct impact on brand loyalty—which directly correlates to brand revenue. With the advent of AI, the significance of delivering an effective, efficient, and personalized CX has never been more attainable.
With automation becoming the new normal, contact center managers recognize a greater need for critical thinking (top selected) and adaptability to change (second top) among future agents. Yet today, these skills are most frequently identified as lacking, and the top skills impacted when an agent is stressed or disengaged. Managers must bridge this gap through targeted training and development programs, another area where AI can assist.
Retaining Brand Guardians through Training and Development
Training and skills development emerge as top strategies for attracting and retaining talented agents for both current (35%) and future (30%) success. While acknowledging the need for progress, the report reveals that only 45% of contact center managers believe their agents currently possess all the required skills. This significant gap underscores the urgency of investing in comprehensive training initiatives.
The research highlights that as the industry evolves, organizations need to prioritize harnessing AI’s potential and activating the agent, rather than replacing them.
Calabrio is a trusted ally to leading brands. The digital foundation of a customer-centric contact center, the Calabrio ONE workforce performance suite helps enrich and understand human interactions, empowering your contact center as a brand guardian. We maximize agent performance, exceed customer expectations, and boost workforce efficiency using connected data, AI-fueled analytics, automated workforce management, and personalized coaching. Only Calabrio ONE unites workforce optimization (WFO), agent engagement, and business intelligence solutions into a true-cloud, fully integrated suite that adapts to your business.
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