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How Generative AI Will Improve ROI in the Contact Center in 2024

With the economic soft-landing set to continue in early 2024, the time is now for businesses to act quickly to ensure long-term success. To thrive, companies need to find ways to save money while not compromising quantity and quality of output. AI, particularly generative AI (Gen AI), can be the perfect solution. While there are many applications of Gen AI, companies should use the technology to enhance the contact center and, more broadly, the customer service environment. When deployed correctly, Gen AI can improve return on investment (ROI) by reducing operational costs and enriching the customer experience through more accurate, personalized responses and faster resolution times.

Accelerating the Pace of Customer Service 

Today, due to staffing challenges and other issues, contact centers struggle with high wait times, which create longer average handle times, resulting in a higher cost per call and dissatisfied customers. The cost per call is a metric used to calculate the total cost a contact center spends handling a single customer call. A study of 18 large companies experiencing call volumes ranging from 900,000 and 9 million found the industry benchmark for the cost per call is between $2.70 and $5.60.

Companies can use Gen AI to get their cost per call well below this industry benchmark. Specifically, by infusing Gen AI-enabled virtual assistants and chatbots in the call flow ahead of the contact center, brands can automate the bulk of customer queries, such as product inquiries, information requests, scheduling, payment and order status updates, helping to reduce hold and handle times and ultimately decreasing the cost per call.

Traditional AI-powered chatbots rely on preprogrammed answers, making them limited and static. However, Gen AI-based solutions use large language models to provide more dynamic interactions for faster resolutions. The rapid rate of evolution in Gen AI in 2024 and beyond means the quality of virtual assistants and chatbots will continue to increase.

Automating most customer queries with Gen AI-powered solutions prevents live agents from getting bogged down with tedious tasks, enabling them to concentrate on more complex, higher-value interactions that cannot be automated (yet). That’s a twofold win for the business: decreased number of required agents, plus those live agents in the contact center can now focus on more involved and revenue-generating interactions.

Research from McKinsey found that after one company with 5,000 customer service agents implemented Gen AI, it increased issue resolution by 14% an hour and reduced handle time by 9%. McKinsey also estimated that applying Gen AI to customer care functions could boost productivity at a value ranging from 30% to 40% of current function costs. To that end, the companies that deploy customer-facing Gen AI virtual agents and chatbots will decrease the total cost of running a contact center, generating higher ROI.

Ensuring High-Quality Customer Interactions 

Though businesses might hone in on decreasing resolution time, they shouldn’t disregard customer satisfaction. Indeed, the quickness of a resolution is not always the perfect indicator of the quality of the interaction itself. Personalization, accuracy and a “willingness to help” combined with faster resolution times are what consumers ask for in one survey after another. In a recent Gladly’s Customer Expectations Report, 66% of consumers preferred brands that know them and offer personalized recommendations. Also, per Gladly’s report, 73% of consumers want to be treated as a person, not a case number. Moreover, the report revealed that most shoppers expect a customer service agent to be knowledgeable enough to converse about a product.

Gen AI algorithms can perform sentiment analysis in real-time, allowing virtual agents to recognize the customer’s emotional state and respond appropriately. The analysis helps virtual agents decipher human nuances and understand preferences to deliver personalized and empathetic support. Gen AI can also glean insights from customer data to conduct tailored cross-selling and upselling. Additionally, predictive analytics will see prominence in 2024. Predictive analytics utilizes machine learning and statistical algorithms to analyze customer data, enabling businesses to anticipate potential customer issues or needs and address them proactively, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Brands can ensure high-quality interactions by modernizing contact center operations with virtual agents that can complete sentiment analysis, predictive analytics and individualized product offerings. These consistent and superior interactions enhance customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty, boosting revenue and improving ROI during the leaner moments.

Why Gen AI Will Matter in 2024 and Beyond 

No modern business can survive without continuous improvements to operational efficiency, whether removing bottlenecks or streamlining workflows. By leveraging the latest Gen AI technologies to reduce operational costs and increase customer satisfaction in the contact center, companies can improve ROI, stave off some of the more challenging aspects of the ongoing economic slowdown and be positioned for the next leg of growth in 2024 and beyond. Gen AI is not merely a means of surviving temporary challenges. Rather, Gen AI is indispensable for making business more competitive in the years ahead.