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Contact Center Agents and AI: The Ultimate Power Couple

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Like other contact center vendors, Talkdesk is incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into its contact center as a service (CCaaS) offerings. Although 84% of contact center organizations expect their spending to increase in 2025 compared to 2021, these same organizations are wary of adopting AI technologies in the call center, citing concerns about perceived cost, reliance on the IT department, lack of data maturity/infrastructure, and time to value (TTV).
 
That was the upshot of a recent Talkdesk webinar, "The Future of AI in the Contact Center," with insights by Jay Gupta, product marketing director, Margi Deinlein, customer insights manager, both from Talkdesk, and Paul Lasserre, global segment lead, applied AI solutions, at AWS.
 
They discussed research from a Talkdesk global survey completed earlier this year, fielded by more than 900 customer experience (CX) professionals. They also described what constitutes a successful AI implementation strategy, why contact center agents and artificial intelligence (AI) are the "ultimate power couple," and how AI can improve contact center security.
 
How to Make the Most of AI: Break Adoption Barriers
When surveyed on five stages that best describe their company’s current experience level in utilizing AI and automation, the numbers show that AI adoption is on the rise. Here's how it breaks down by stages:
 
  • 9% of CX professionals report awareness: I.e., their company is aware of AI but hasn’t used the technology.
  • 22% of CX professionals are in the experimental stage, meaning their company is experimenting with AI informally but have not built business operations around it yet.
  • 28% are in the operational phase, meaning their company has integrated AI into its day-to-day operations.
  • 27% are in the systemic stage—their company uses AI in novel ways to disrupt business models and has machine learning infrastructure in place.
  • 14% of companies are in the transformational stage and use machine learning extensively, and AI is relied on to do the heavy lifting for the business.
 
Lasserre says many organizations struggle to transition from proof-of-concept to adding machine learning into production; the adoption barriers like perceived cost and lack of data maturity are most likely the source of these struggles. Lasserre said that the bright side for contact centers is the economic value of machine learning because “companies spend billions of dollars every year to answer questions, [and] address issues,” he said. “That’s a great area of application for machine learning.”
 
Gupta advised how organizations can overcome AI adoption barriers around perceived cost and reliance on the IT department, which she says “underscores the importance of human-in-the-loop," a customer service model that requires human interaction According to Gupta, the advantage of putting agents in the operational loop with AI is the human agents can increase AI’s adoption and effectiveness by making its use more natural within existing processes and flows in the contact center. “[AI] works to compliment and elevate the agent.”
 
Contact Center Agents and AI: The Ultimate Power Couple
There’s the age-old speculative fiction that artificially-intelligent entities will take over the world and supplant humanity. But Deinlein said Talkdesk data demonstrates the opposite. “AI is only there to assist the agent, not to replace them.” She shared that 79% of CX professionals see AI as an assistant to human agents, while 82% say AI will provide new contact center career opportunities. First, the people working in contact centers need to be upskilled by managers to use AI effectively in their jobs. 63% of CX professionals don’t believe their contact centers have the skills to get the most out of AI technology. Deinlein said, “We’re seeing acknowledgment of the opportunity with AI, but still some skills gaps or needs to make AI work in these organizations.”
 
Lasserre argued why he thinks self-service is “placing the human back in the center of the contact center.” He described his AWS experience implementing a chatbot or conversational AI assistant with contact center agents: the agents tend to have anxiety at the beginning of a call. But after a few weeks of implementation, the employee feedback is positive.
 
Lasserre explained because the bots do what they’re good at—ending mundane tasks and repetitive work, this leaves space and time for the agent to do what they do best. These include channeling empathy for the customer, using problem-solving skills, offering advice, and addressing objections, “all the things a contact center representative enjoys doing.” Lasserre added that contact center agents typically like to help and feel more helpful when AI tools complement their skillset.
 
“The best people to train AI are those who know the business best,” Gupta added. She says that CX professionals frequently overlook customer service representatives as employees who can provide multidisciplinary skills and drive the adoption of new technologies. “Agents have domain expertise, patience, soft skills, and the desire to do more higher-order tasks in the contact centers,” she said. “AI is creating a path for these individuals to take on more responsibility related to improving the customer experience in the contact center via AI—agents and AI are the ultimate power couples in the contact center.”
 
Augment Your Contact Center Security with AI
The last area Deinlein touched on was AI's potential to revolutionize how organizations with strict data handling requirements can further enhance security and privacy to maintain compliance with regulations. Banks, Deinlein described, must go to great lengths in the contact center to accurately verify someone’s identity over the phone or online. These measures increase the risk of error when customers already have a low tolerance for risk regarding identity and verification processes.
 
Talkdesk data says 67% of CX professionals believe AI will help solve fraud and data issues, while 79% of CX professionals believe AI will be more secure than interacting with human agents. “As AI matures, [it can] help streamline some of these processes in a way that’s secure, so it’s better for the customer and better for the organization,” Deinlein said. She added that AI detects errors and problems with behavior, which benefits the contact center and the organization as a whole.
 
“I think we could argue who stands to benefit most from these changes is ultimately the consumer, who’s going to enjoy that smoother, better, and safer experience.”

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