AT&T: Intelligent Pairing Ups Agent Success

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Anthony Tuggle, of AT&T, at Avaya Engage

Zia Chishti, Afiniti CEO (at left) and Anthony Tuggle, vice president of sales at AT&T Entertainment Group, on the keynote stage at Avaya Engage.

Last week’s Avaya Engage event featured a variety of customer success stories, beginning on Monday, Jan. 22, when Anthony Tuggle, vice president of sales for AT&T Entertainment Group, took part in a keynote address highlighting the strategic partnership between Afiniti and Avaya.
 
AT&T is using Afiniti’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based routing solution to support almost 5,000 agents who work in what Tuggle described as AT&T/DIRECTV loyalty centers. Based on the energy and passion for his work that I saw in Tuggle while on stage, I arranged to speak with him and Chishti to get a deeper dive on how AT&T works with Afiniti and what their future plans include.
 
To get started, I asked Tuggle how the Afiniti technology works in the DIRECTV loyalty centers. What happens when a caller wants to cancel an AT&T service? How is the customer and agent experience different with Afiniti?
 
With the intelligent routing, Tuggle explained, AT&T is able to send such a caller to an agent who has had success with similar customers. “Similar” is defined based on a series of attributes -- e.g., a similar pattern of inbound calling or a similar type of inquiry. Directing calls to agents versed in handling similar customers or inquiries will likely lead to greater success, measured by time to resolution and customer satisfaction.
 
In addition to improved customer metrics, equally important to AT&T is agent impact. As Tuggle explained: “if I pair you up with the right type of customer, you have a higher probability of being successful in providing the customer resolution. You have a better opportunity to make a connection with the customer and to make it long-lasting,” Tuggle said. “We want our agents to be proud of the call,” he added. AT&T also wants its customers to be wowed, to think, “I had the best experience with that agent.”
 
Other than looking at success patterns, I asked Chishti what else Afiniti was doing to improve performance of AT&T contact centers. Chishti didn’t have to think about it -- “a great data partnership,” he answered. “AT&T is one of the leading partners that we have in understanding the value of the data relationship,” he said.
 
As an example, Chishti mentioned the deep customer relationship management (CRM) information that AT&T shares with Afiniti to support the pairing process. This isn’t just about having CRM information, but the classification and willingness to communicate that data to its partners in a secure environment is what sets AT&T apart and allows the solution to be so successful, Chishti said.
 
The business outcomes AT&T has realized by using Afiniti’s intelligent routing in the DIRECTV loyalty centers have been straightforward: reduced churn and increased revenue with cross-sells. Now work is underway to extend the behavioral pairing solution to AT&T sales centers, which would expand the solution to thousands of additional agents, Tuggle said.
 
Adding behavioral pairing of customers and agents in sales contact centers will grow revenue as well as enable the company to deliver a best-in-class customer experience, Tuggle noted.
 
Tuggle ended our conversation by returning to his theme that using Afiniti in more AT&T contact centers allows the company to increase employee satisfaction.
 
Note that AT&T has a premises-based deployment of Avaya contact center but is successfully using and planning to expand its implementation of AI with thousands of agents. It’s a fact that contradicts industry observations that AI can only successfully be implemented with a cloud contact center.
 
The AT&T story also highlights that deploying AI isn’t about getting rid of agents, it’s about helping them be more successful in what they do. This is one of the many themes I’ll be exploring at Enterprise Connect 2019 in the session, “Contact Centers 2022: Automation vs. AI-Assisted Humans -- Where to Draw the Line.” Join me in Orlando, Fla., for Enterprise Connect the week of March 18, and discover all the latest contact center and customer experience trends and technologies!
 
Register now using the code NJPOSTS to save $200 off the current conference price.