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Dial M for… Empathy


Hand putting smile emotion face to above normal and sadness mood, showing customer satisfaction
Image: Dilok -
“Empathy” is the buzzword of the moment in the world of contact centers. Ironically, it owes its current popularity to the growth and success of AI in the contact center.
The idea is that AI can improve contact center capabilities in two ways that each help human agents be more empathetic toward customers, thus providing a better experience and inspiring greater loyalty.
The first way that AI makes empathy more important is by offloading the simplest customer service tasks from human agents. Through chatbots and other automated processes, the contact center is able to free up the precious time of human agents, so they can handle complex and possibly contentious interactions for which AI remains unsuited.
Then, when these more difficult calls make their way to a human agent, AI can more effectively scour the enterprise’s customer data and provide the agent with more and better information about the customer, in real time. Knowing more about the customer helps the agent be more, yes, empathetic… is the theory.
Of course, “AI” isn’t just a switch you flip or a port you plug into. Especially in the contact center, you have to give the AI the best, most useful data possible to sink its teeth into. On a recent Enterprise Connect/No Jitter webinar, Tim Richter of Twilio described this challenge by first alluding to the “battle of the desktop” that many people have been anticipating, between traditional agent UIs and the CRM that has been touted as potentially supplanting legacy contact center interfaces.
While CRM systems are often the place to start when integrating customer data more tightly with the contact center, “CRM can’t be the only place that companies rely on for customer data,” Richter said. “CRM is not the only place where relevant customer data lives.”
So your quest to apply AI to customer data has to begin with a more comprehensive effort to understand where your organization’s most relevant data lives. Then you’ve got to scrub the data so it’s usable. Only then can you use AI to parse the data, and use AI’s intelligence to make split-second decisions about exactly what information might be most helpful to an agent at a particular moment in a call.
It’s probably no coincidence that empathy has emerged as a focus when it has. We’ve all needed some empathy over the past year and a half; now as the world gets a little more routine, we’d all like to keep some of that enhanced sensitivity intact. And businesses rightly believe their customers have come to expect it.
So at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Fla., this Sept. 27-29, much of our contact center programming will touch on the areas that drive the interest in empathy: Robin Gareiss of Metrigy will present some research results on the Top Uses of AI to Deliver Stellar Customer Experience; Mila D’Antonio of Omdia will discuss her view of the Future of Customer Journey Orchestration; and Daniel Hong of Forrester will address the empathy issue pretty directly with his session on Customer Service (Unplugged). And on our main stage, we’ll have a general session panel on Contact Centers & CX: Blurring the Line Between Automation and Live Assistance, led by the one and only Sheila McGee-Smith of McGee-Smith Analytics.
So I hope you can join us in Orlando as we start to unpack the next set of issues you’re likely to encounter as you work to enable a contact center for the post-pandemic era. You can see the full program here. As a No Jitter reader, use the code NJAL200 to save $200 of your registration. I hope to see you there!