Tag Archives: Technology Articles

Consider How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Us in the Call Center

We Should Embrace AI as a Useful Toolset and Not Fear It.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a fad that will soon go away. It’s a fundamental shift in how all businesses—and even every person—will function in the future. And though you may not yet realize it, that future is here. Even if you haven’t openly invited artificial intelligence into your call center operation, it’s already arrived, albeit via circuitous points of entry.

Many people already use AI and don’t even know it. Artificial intelligence helps us draft email messages and compose text messages. It facilitates online searches. And it targets advertising—both the ads we receive and the ones we send. AI also works to keep us secure online. In doing these things—and many more—AI saves us time and helps us be more productive.

We’ll talk about artificial intelligence in general terms because the specifics will be out of date within days. That’s how fast artificial intelligence technology is advancing.

Consider these areas where artificial intelligence can help us in our call centers to do our jobs more effectively and efficiently.

AI Management Tools

Artificial intelligence can help us manage our call center operation and our call center staff with greater ease. One key area, for example, is in quality assurance (QA). AI can perform a QA analysis on our agents to measure the overall effectiveness of their work. This not only removes the tedium of doing so manually, but it also makes sure it is actually done and not put off. And it also does so for every call, which is something that is not feasible from a human standpoint.

This is just one example of an AI management tool that will fundamentally change how we oversee our call center staff.

Interdepartmental Interactions

While we typically think of how artificial intelligence can facilitate interactions with clients and callers, we shouldn’t overlook its potential to assist in internal communication and collaboration between departments. Consider a customer service event and the ripple effects its resolution causes. AI could serve to automatically notify all stakeholders and even support their work that relates to it. As appropriate, AI could trigger a billing adjustment, escalate a QA report, reprogram an account, update a service record, and so on.

Agent Support

Though artificial intelligence could—and one day may—replace much of the human involvement in call center work, we’re best to view it now as supporting our agents so they can do their jobs better and faster. The above mentioned—and presently available—AI-assisted email and text messaging tools are an obvious start. Though these still require agent involvement or agent approval, imagine being able to compose these messages in less time and with greater accuracy.

Customer-Facing Communications

When many people think of AI in the call center, they envision frustrating bots that hamper effective communication and thwart timely resolution. Though reports of AI run amok confirm just that, it doesn’t need to be—and shouldn’t be—the case.

Chat bots are an obvious example. Though they don’t presently function well as a holistic solution and can make a mess of unusual situations, they work great as a front-end resource to solve basic problems, gather key information, and appropriately route customer requests to agents.

Now consider the same concept occurring with telephone calls. Then imagine text-to-speech technology producing canned responses in each operator’s voice and indistinguishable from their own speech when they need to take over a call.


We need not fear the forward march of artificial intelligence. There is much we can do to make our call centers function faster and more accurately than ever before. We’ll benefit and so will those we interact with, both inside our organization and without.

Artificial intelligence can help us, if only we will let it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Unmasking the Threat of SMS Pumping Attacks

By Justin Massey

Is your call center vulnerable to an SMS-pumping attack? What is an SMS-pumping attack? This attack gained media attention recently when Elon Musk said that Twitter was paying over $60 million in fraudulent text messages due to hackers exploiting this attack technique. In this article, we’ll break down if your operation should be concerned with SMS pumping fraud and how you can ensure you do not wind up with a $60 million invoice from your telco provider.

What Is an SMS Pumping Attack?

What is the attacker’s motive? Before understanding how the attack works, knowing the attacker’s motive is important. In this scenario, the attacker wants to find a way to trick your business into texting a premium-rate phone number. Your telco will be charged a premium rate and will pass this cost to you. The attacker will then receive a portion of this premium rate. The price earned per text message is minimal, so the attacker must work at scale for them to make their time worth their money.

How does the attack work? Attackers scour the internet for websites that will send them text messages for any reason. Some websites will send users a confirmation text when registering for an account. Some websites will send one-time passwords. Other websites will send two-factor authentication (2FA) messages. Some websites will send a text message after a sales lead completes a landing page.

There are many different use cases for automatically sending text messages, so keep your mind open when reading this article.

After the attacker has identified a website that sends text messages, they must write the attack tooling to automate the attack. The attacker will automate any process associated with the attack, such as creating an account and logging the user in.

The attacker will then launch their attack, and the website owner will be on the hook for the charges associated with the texts to the premium-rate numbers.

SMS Pumping Attack Example

Let’s take, for example, that an attacker identifies a website that sends users a 2FA text message when logging into the account. The attacker will also research how quickly they can request new 2FA messages from the same account. Some applications may only send one text every 30 seconds. Other applications may not implement any rate limiting and allow the user to request as many 2FA codes as humanly possible.

The attacker must send many text messages to earn enough money to make the attack profitable. This means they will need to increase the number of accounts on the website to send 2FA messages. After the accounts have been created and configured with the premium-rate phone numbers, the attacker will automate the login process and request as many text messages as the system will allow.

Where has this attack been seen? This attack has increased in prevalence over the past several years, according to Vladimir Smal with Lanck Telecom. It recently made the headlines when Elon Musk mentioned that Twitter (now X) was being scammed $60 million per year in fraudulent text messages due to this style attack. Lanck Telecom estimates that 6% of all SMS traffic is artificially generated by these sorts of attacks. Artificial traffic is much higher, 50-80%, for some mobile networks.

Is my call center vulnerable to an SMS pumping attack? To know if you’re service is vulnerable to this attack, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my sales process involve receiving a phone number to text and automatically text the phone number?
  • Does my application support 2FA via text message?
  • Does my application send one-time passwords via text message?
  • Does any other part of my application send text messages?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be vulnerable to this attack. However, you should remember that the attacker must be able to easily scale this attack to make it profitable.

If your operation requires a human to be involved with the onboarding of your customer, then the attacker is not likely going to target this application. It is, however, important for you to think through all possible scenarios that you may have implemented that involve text messaging.

How Can I Prevent SMS Pumping Fraud?

  • Anti-Bot Measures: One of the primary sources of SMS pumping fraud exists when a website allows a user to register and send a text message to the phone number the user provided. The first component to prevent this attack is to ensure that the user is a human. You can implement anti-bot technology such as Google’s reCAPTCHA to identify whether the user creating the account is a human or a bot. If you implement reCAPTCHA, an attacker will manually have to run this attack against your application which would not be profitable.
  • Extending reCAPTCHA: You should also consider adding reCAPTCHA to other parts of your applications, such as user logins, password resets, or anywhere that an attacker may try to trigger a text message.
  • Rate Limiting: Another mitigation strategy is to implement rate limiting. If a user requests the same information 10,000 times within one minute, you do not want to text the user 10,000 times. Consider implementing a rate limit to reduce the number of text messages sent to this number.
  • Geographical Restrictions: Many fraudulent text messages are sent to non-US countries. You can contact your telco provider and request they disable texting to non-US countries or countries in which you do not conduct business.
  • Billing Spike Notifications: Implement billing spike notifications with your telco provider. If your telco detects your application sending an abnormal number of messages, they should notify you when they detect it rather than you see the high price on your next invoice.

By adopting these proactive measures, you can protect your operation against SMS-pumping attacks.

Justin Massey, the founder of Relay Hawk, started answering phones for his family’s answering service at 16. Later, he became an IT administrator at a managed service provider. He now runs Relay Hawk, a cybersecurity company building products exclusively for the Telephone Answering Service industry.

3 Cost-Effective Tips for Brands Looking to Boost Customer Experience

By Rei Kasai

Modern customer service that drives exceptional outcomes is critical to any business’s longevity and long-term success. In fact, 49 percent of consumers said they would stop using a brand after just one bad experience.

If businesses want to keep consumers happy and returning, they must make sure that not only the first impression goes right, but every subsequent interaction. But in a challenging economic environment, many brands are struggling to meet these rising customer demands with diminished budgets and smaller teams.

Businesses that find new and creative ways to deliver what customers want efficiently and cost-effectively will gain a significant competitive advantage. While every industry has its nuances, some of the most innovative and forward-looking customer service teams invest in three areas: Conversational AI, omnichannel capabilities, and employee experience.

Leveraging the Sophistication of Conversational AI

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful form of AI that augments the work of customer service agents and creates a better, more personalized customer experience. In the contact center, we typically see this capability deployed as virtual agents. It uses machine learning (ML) algorithms, data science techniques, and large language models to understand human communication and simulate human-like customer interactions.

In many situations, a virtual agent can field a customer’s request and generate an appropriate response without human assistance, freeing live agents to handle more complicated exception scenarios requiring a human touch.

This technology has been around for years. Voice assistants, such as Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, are commonplace in our lives and help us find directions, reorder a favorite product, or find an answer during a debate with friends or family. But rapid digital transformation, further accelerated by the pandemic, forced businesses to fully embrace e-commerce and modern methods of offering the same level of service expected from in-person conversations.

Research reveals that 89 percent of Customer Experience (CX) professionals recognize the importance of AI in the contact center, and 84 percent plan to increase their AI spending in 2025, compared to 2021.

It’s no wonder; customers want to solve their issues faster and on their own. And if they do need to engage with an actual agent, the customer service representative can leverage real-time AI to guide a seamless conversation.

With no hold times and virtual assistants on hand for live agent support, customers receive fast, efficient resolutions. Customers with a wonderful experience will become more loyal and refer friends, family, and colleagues, decreasing churn costs and increasing revenue.

And 2023 has seen the boom of generative AI. ChatGPT, Bard, and other generative AI systems have brought conversational AI to a new level. Virtual agents will no longer be limited to predefined situations, but instead evolve into continuously learning through conversations to handle new situations.

Some brands are already taking advantage of their numerous capabilities to assist and automate agent activity, although it’s still quite early in its commercial rollout for customer-facing applications that will represent a brand. Also, there are ethical concerns, and regulations are sure to come, but there is little doubt generative AI will revolutionize customer service.

Be Everywhere for Everyone

With an omnichannel strategy, businesses can offer a myriad of communication channels, from voice to SMS to chatbot and everything in between, allowing consumers to pick which one they want to use and not be forced to use something less convenient.

Research reveals that 78 percent of consumers want to communicate on their preferred channel, and 72 percent say their preferences change based on context. It’s important to provide not only multiple channels but to ensure it’s easy to switch and use them together to create a richer multi-model customer experience.

For example, a customer might be engaging with a virtual agent to ask a question about a recent purchase. If the virtual agent can’t resolve the problem, the customer might decide it would be better to speak with a live agent.

An omnichannel contact center provides the customer a seamless transition to escalate the virtual agent chat experience to a live chat or voice experience, while providing all the key information about the interaction to the next customer service agent in queue. The agent can immediately continue assisting the customer without asking them to start from the beginning, creating a bottleneck that frustrates both sides.

Everything ties back to an excellent CX. Customers can use the channels they want and are more comfortable on, leading to more effective, efficient support experiences.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers

Turnover in the contact center has always been a significant problem. It’s demanding work, often with little reward. Agents deal with a lot of frustrated customers and have few support mechanisms to lean on, which can quickly turn into burn out. It’s difficult to be empathetic and build rapport with a customer when you are just going through the motions.

Engaging in meaningful work is incredibly important for job satisfaction. When an agent must routinely provide answers to the same questions or engage in tedious after-call work, it can have a negative impact on their work experience. AI in the contact center can automate much of the mundane activities and processes, and free up the agent to solve more important and complex customer problems.

Contact centers are already using generative AI to summarize interactions and automatically set customer dispositions. Previously, this could take up to an hour of an agent’s day to manually regurgitate what they just heard. This eliminates the point of pain from their experience.

Another problem for customer service agents is the number of CX systems they must access to help a single customer. It’s not unusual for an agent to access six or more different systems in one interaction. It slows down communication, makes the customer more impatient, and distracts the agent. It’s not a positive experience for the customer or the agent.

Unifying all these CX systems into a single workspace for the agent can make a dramatic difference to the agent’s experience. By providing direct access to all vital CX applications and data on a single screen, the agent no longer must jump between browser tabs and can seamlessly transition between handling live interactions, managing voicemails, and completing after-call work. This saves them a lot of time and frustration.

Anything that improves the employee experience—no matter how minute—will have a positive impact on the customer experience.


Implementing innovative technology, engaging with customers on their terms, and investing in employees are three strong and proven customer service strategies to gain a leg up on your competition. In times of economic uncertainty, it’s important to continue to invest in the future, but to invest wisely. Ensuring customer loyalty will accelerate revenue and opportunity as market conditions improve.

Rei Kasai is the SVP/global head of product and engineering at Talkdesk, which helps enterprises modernize their customer service.

Active Insights

Amtelco Cloud-Based Platform Solution

Automated Call Scoring, Quality Assurance, Detailed Analytics

The new secure, cloud-based Active Insights platform provides access to call, message, and speech analytics. Call centers can use Active Insights to quickly find detailed information about calls and agent performance, complete with automated call scoring. Active Insights is user-friendly, fast, and easy to deploy, and provides accurate insights about overall call handling.

Automated Call Scoring: Active Insights features customized call-scoring scripts to automatically rate calls, saving hours of valuable time for supervisors and creating impartial scores for agents. Unique scoring scripts can be created for diverse types of calls, such as HVAC, utilities, and building maintenance.

The scripts focus on the crucial details for each type of call, such as requesting a location on service calls. As part of the script, the importance of each item can be indicated by including several points for each item, such as five points for asking for a last name, and ten points for verifying the caller’s phone number. Active Insights displays the scores for each script item, instantly showing how well agents handle calls.

Provide Agent Feedback: Supervisors can use the unbiased feedback from Active Insights to give agents positive feedback in areas where they excel, along with suggestions for improvement. Since the scripts provide details on specific areas, such as whether an agent paged a technician, supervisors can praise agents and suggest strategies for better ways to handle future calls.

Flexible Search Options: With the hundreds to thousands of calls handled each day, finding a specific call could be daunting, but Active Insights makes it easy. A wide range of search criteria helps instantly find a call, even with limited information. Supervisors can search for any calls taken: by a particular agent, on a specified date and time, for an individual client, or that include a specific phrase, such as power outage.

Complete Call Review Capabilities: Supervisors can see and hear exactly what happened on calls with Active Insights. A color-coded waveform graph indicates when the agent was speaking, and when the caller was speaking. Supervisors can view the recording of the agent’s screen as they listen to the call, read the call transcription, and see the individual scores for each item in the script. This helps them confirm that the call quality is up to the expected standards and makes it easy to identify and address any issues.

Conserve Disk Space: Since Active Insights is cloud-based, it doesn’t use on-site server space. Managers can easily track cloud storage utilization and adjust as needed. Managers can also select which clients to provide these services for, making it an easy revenue-generating opportunity.

Active Insights works with the Amtelco Genesis system.

Amtelco and Telescan

Amtelco was founded in 1976 to provide communication solutions to the answering service and healthcare communications industry and is a leading supplier and trusted name in contact center systems, software applications, and secure texting technologies. Amtelco focuses on innovative contact center solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations, backed by top-notch service and support.

Knowledge Management Will Enhance CX

By Donna Fluss

Knowledge management (KM) is a process for authoring, collecting, organizing, presenting, maintaining, and storing information in a manner that is readily accessible and easily consumable by all organizational constituents. It can include content from internal (databases, documents, manuals, training materials, policies, procedures, best practices, employees, etc.) and external (the Internet, user communities/forums, customers, etc.) sources.

Knowledge management solutions transform data and other information into knowledge assets (also referred to as “articles,” “content,” or “objects”). The knowledge assets can be leveraged in internal applications that target contact center agents and enterprise employees, as well as for external-facing purposes that are focused on customers, clients, prospects, partners, etc. A knowledge management solution should use a responsive design approach to render the data in the form most appropriate for each channel and/or device and confine the presentation to what each audience needs to know.

KM in Contact Centers (and Beyond)

Knowledge management solutions equip front-line employees, both on-site and remote, with the information to deliver a great customer experience. Knowledge management solutions help companies institutionalize their knowledge and provide a “single source of the truth” so that consistent information can be provided to enterprise employees or customers. They are also increasingly being used to support self-service solutions and other enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives that need a large data repository in order to be successful.

KM Reduces Risk

Knowledge management reduces the risks of having essential enterprise knowledge reside in its employees, as is the case in many contact centers where senior representatives are the “go-to” people (subject matter experts) for resolving certain types of customer inquiries and issues. In these organizations, critical information is often lost when these employees retire or leave the organization before doing a knowledge transfer. So, in addition to addressing explicit information, knowledge management solutions should be used to capture and preserve tacit or “tribal” knowledge (which can include best practices, lessons learned, postmortems, etc.).

Clients and customers who use an organization’s products and services on a regular basis also possess a wealth of insights that are not available from within the enterprise. Knowledge management solutions that support user communities and crowdsourcing offer an effective method for capturing tacit knowledge from large groups of customers, clients, partners, and user communities.

This approach enables organizations to capture ideas, practices, recommendations, fixes, and a lot more from external constituents. And during a time when improving the customer experience (CX) and retaining employees are critical company priorities, KM is proving to be an excellent and effective way of engaging employees and improving both self-service and agent-assisted service quality and delivery.

Final Thoughts

Today’s KM solutions are generations ahead of the prior versions of these applications. For decades, contact center and service leaders have agreed that KM solutions have the potential to improve the CX, reduce agent handling and onboarding time, and improve the agent experience, but they still did not invest. What’s different now is that the newer KM solutions are built on better technology and apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to make them much easier to use and maintain, enabling companies to realize the promised benefits.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of the people, processes and technology that drive the strategic direction of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office markets. Donna can be reached at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com.

Making Contact Centers More Secure

By Donna Fluss

Many years ago, when I was managing a credit card customer service contact center, one of our clients threatened to bomb our office. The agent who received the threat followed protocol and the issue was immediately brought to my attention, as the head of the department. I assessed the risk—per guidelines—and made the decision to keep everything going.

My evaluation of the situation was based on many factors, most importantly the risk to my employees, which I determined to be non-existent, as I knew this caller and his frequent issues very well. (To put this into perspective, when the fire alarm went off a few weeks later due to a fire drill that we had not been notified of, we immediately emptied the contact center, as the risk was perceived to be high.)

The world has changed a great deal since I ran that contact center, and so have the guidelines. Bomb threats and other types of warnings to a business/institution/government agency and its people happen too frequently. Organizations have established protocols, policies, and resources to assess risks, which include notifying a risk assessment team that makes the decision about how to handle the situation; this judgment is no longer left up to the department manager.

Contact Centers are Points of Vulnerability for Enterprises

A contact centers is fraught with risk since its purpose is to invite the outside world in to interact with a company. It’s a natural point of vulnerability; its physical site(s), employees and customer data must be protected. Companies need to have plans in place to protect all customer-facing functions, as the risks are growing with each passing year.

There are many types of risks and attacks that contact centers face, including:

  • Physical threats to people and property: bombs, shootings, ramming cars/trucks into buildings, etc.
  • Human-engineered phishing attacks: hackers breaking in and stealing customer information
  • Ransomware attacks: hackers breaking through a company’s security and freezing access to their systems and accounts unless a ransom is paid
  • Phone-based attacks: a fraudster (or a group of people working together) calling repeatedly until they get the information they need to access specific customer accounts
  • Attacks through the self-service solution: a fraudster accessing a specific customer’s account via a website, interactive voice response (IVR) system, intelligent virtual agent, or other self-service solution
  • Compromised employees: having an employee who is either a fraudster or is paid to collect and share customer information with a thief
  • Many more

Establish a Security Framework

Contact centers need to establish a security framework that minimizes the risk of fraud, as there is no known way to eliminate it completely. This begins with the contact center’s underlying network architecture. Today, especially with the increase in work-from-anywhere staffing models (for agents and other contact center personnel), the recommended approach is based on a Zero Trust configuration. Zero Trust requires continuous authentication of all network devices and users and limits network access to the least privileged level.

Contact centers can also apply a Zero Trust approach to customer authentication, which takes 2-factor verification a step further. It means that customers who were verified in a self-service solution must be “re-verified” if they transfer to a live agent. Or if a customer is transferred from one agent who verified them, they must go through the verification process again when they speak to a second agent. (The customer will be put through a 2-factor verification during the first contact with a self-service solution or live agent and only a single-factor authentication for the second contact.)

This process reduces fraud risk and losses but will frustrate and annoy legitimate customers because of having to be verified multiple times when transferred between devices and agents. Therefore, this approach should be applied only when necessary for certain types of sensitive transactions.

Making a Contact Center Secure

I’m sorry to say that there is no perfect way to protect a contact center, its employees, or customer data. Fraudsters who are intent on getting information will keep at it until they find a weak link in the system. Companies need to put in place systems, guidelines, and policies to minimize the risks and encourage their agents to report potentially fraudulent activities, without upsetting customers.

Contact center agents need to perform their primary job—delivering a great customer experience—but must do so keeping both eyes open in today’s world.

Donna Fluss, founder and president of DMG Consulting LLC, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of the people, processes and technology that drive the strategic direction of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office markets. Donna can be reached at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com.

AnswerNet Expands Traditional Answering Service to Include Text Support

AnswerNet launched AnswerMyTexts, the first true business text answering service solution. AnswerMyTexts lets business owners handle texts on their business phone number or have those texts handled by AnswerNet agents. The goal of AnswerMyTexts is to allow businesses to use their answering service for non-voice channels for the first time, and to encourage all businesses to text-enable their business phone lines.

AnswerMyTexts, allows the business owner to manage their own texts and leverage support in three ways, with Scheduled Answering, On-Demand Answering, and Overflow Answering.

As part of this new service, AnswerMyTexts has created an easy-to-use system to text-enable any landline number in minutes. If a business does not have an existing number, AnswerNet will provide a new one.

“The use of texting-to-business numbers has been slowed because there has been no solution that allows the business to handle its own texts, or to have a third party handle them when the business is unavailable”, said Gary Pudles, CEO of AnswerNet. “With the AnswerMyTexts service, AnswerNet is leading the revolution in helping businesses move seamlessly into text communications.”

Today, statistics show that nine out of ten consumers prefer communication with companies via text, which leads to a better customer experience and a higher perceived customer satisfaction. 

Headquartered in Willow Grove, PA, AnswerNet is a full-service provider of inbound, outbound, automated, and BPO call center services. Founded in 1998, the company has over 30 sites with 2,000 full-time employees across the U.S. and Canada.

Contact Center Pain Points

SingleComm: cloud-native omnichannel TAS solutions

Tips for Improving Processes or Adopting New Technology

Submitted by SingleComm

While process-improving technology is a must for contact centers that want to stay competitive and improve customer experience, putting new technologies to use can mean growing pains, slow implementation, and frustrated employees. Patient experience ensures that your agents can connect patients to providers efficiently and securely.

In this article, we’ll discuss some common pain points contact centers experience when adopting new technologies or processes.

What Is Process Improvement?

Process improvement involves identifying, analyzing, and improving existing business processes to optimize performance, meet best practice standards, or improve user experience.

Often, the catalyst for process improvement comes in the form of a new technology solution. For example, the printing press allowed the production of books to increase drastically because the process of how books were made fundamentally changed.

How Technology Improves Business Processes

A large part of improving processes involves identifying inefficiencies and, when possible, streamlining them. These are two things that tech solutions excel at.

Tech applications can shine a light on redundant sections of processes and have the capability to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks. This enables contact centers to reduce the cost of operation, save time, focus on other tasks, and speed up business operations.

Common Pain Points

Identifying opportunities and successfully managing through change can be painful but failing to innovate can be a death sentence for a business. With that in mind, here are some of the most common pain points organizations must work through when adopting a process change or new technology.


Cost is a significant factor in a contact center’s decision to adopt new technology. By quickly identifying deficiencies and enabling contact centers to make fast, efficient changes that optimize time-to-market, helps users to reduce their costs by about 40 percent.

Employee Buy-in

When a team member is unsure of a new technology or process, there is a good chance they will avoid embracing it fully, making the technology seem ineffective and causing the team member to become even more skeptical of the new solution. It’s a cycle that can be incredibly harmful to innovation.

Employees can have a variety of reasons for being hesitant about embracing new technologies or processes:

  • Lack of awareness about the purpose and reason for the change.
  • Adherence to an old methodology that they feel comfortable using.
  • Belief that the new process or technology might make them redundant.
  • Too busy to devote time to learning a new system.

Adoption Speed

The time between deciding on a new technology solution and having it fully implemented can be a tedious journey. Waiting for agents to become proficient with a platform can end up having the opposite of the desired effects of the new technology. Instead of happier customers and decreased call times, you end up with agents fumbling through a new interface and customers spending extra time on the phone.

Lack of Resources and Support

Even if there is complete buy-in from every agent, a lack of proper training and support can stymie the adaptation of new technology.

SingleComm is the cloud-based all-in-one call center software solution that helps contact centers train agents faster, turn data into actionable insights, and save big on operating expenses.

Contact Center AI: An Interview with Talkdesk’s Ben Rigby

Question: Ben, What Is the Current Sentiment Around AI and Automation in Contact Centers?

Answer: Today, contact centers have started to feel the concrete benefits of AI, from its ability to improve customer satisfaction to increasing agent productivity and upskilling employees.

While some companies still struggle to understand how automation can fit into their tech stack to transform how they operate as a business, many have started to experiment with AI technology to support specific processes or tasks in their contact centers.

Q: The Report Shows That Only 15 Percent of Organizations Are Taking Advantage of Emerging AI Technology, Such As Human-in-the-Loop. What Might Be Causing the Hesitation?

A: Our survey shows that contact center professionals are lacking confidence in their understanding of AI and the business results they should expect. As with implementing any new technology, AI comes with challenges, and our survey found that security and IT risks around legacy contact center equipment rank number one for concern.

Companies are also facing resistance from leaders and staff within their organization while grappling with labor shortages, all of which make it difficult to build, use, and maintain new automated systems. CX (customer experience) leaders need to be transparent with their workforce, emphasizing the core benefits and uses of AI and automation.

In addition to improving a business’s processes and bottom line, this technology also has the power to streamline employees’ day-to-day activities by filtering out the repetitive tasks. By openly communicating these direct benefits, companies can gain buy-in from their entire workforce, from entry level staff all the way up to managers and above.

Q: What Are the Security Risks That Come with AI Technology?

While security and IT risks of outdated contact center equipment are a main barrier to adoption, once deployed as part of a digital transformation initiative, AI actually makes contact centers more secure. Three in four CX professionals agree that AI tech will allow customer data to be more secure than a live agent, and four in five agree that AI will significantly help companies improve identity and authentication security in the next two years.

Q: How Can CX Leaders Address These Risks?

A: If AI has the potential to improve contact center security, the question then becomes, how can companies securely implement the technology? The answer is simple: businesses must put the strongest foundation in place to support AI. Specifically, they’ll need to invest in modern cloud architecture that will seamlessly and securely integrate AI technology.

Q: If a Company Has Not Yet Adopted This Technology, Are They Falling Behind?

A: Companies that continue to be resistant to AI adoption will undoubtedly fall behind in two areas: EX [employee experience] and CX. In today’s contact center workforce, AI technology helps reduce the repetitive tasks and transactional work for agents, alleviating stress, reducing workloads, and allowing teams to rebuild their contact center workforce.

AI provides the much-needed support during ongoing labor shortages and will be instrumental in upskilling workers to provide a more meaningful role in the contact center.

In terms of CX, conversational AI can help contact centers provide high-quality experiences by instantly responding to customer queries at any time of the day. AI can also equip agents with the contextual, personalized knowledge they need to accurately answer customer questions. This leaves customers highly satisfied and eases friction that comes with lengthy interactions.

Q: In Making the Decision to Implement More Advanced AI Technology, What Do CX Professionals Need to Consider?

A: There are three things CX professionals and leaders should consider:

First, do our agents have the right training and resources to leverage this technology effectively? Before launching new tech solutions, it’s important that the current agents have a strong skill set and understanding of how this will impact day-to-day operations, as well as best practices to work in tandem once the technology is in place.

Second, do we have the internal resources to make AI operations accessible? AI will continue to become more advanced and the only way for a company to reap the benefits of this technology is by making it accessible to everyone, even those who don’t have formal technical training or backgrounds.

Third, do we have a current system that can support a safe integration of advanced AI technology? Without the right foundation, you won’t be able to utilize AI to its full potential. Prior to deploying AI technology, take the time to consolidate redundant tech stacks.

Q: With 79 Percent of CX Leaders Planning to Increase Contact Center Investments, What Do You Think the State of AI and Automation in Contact Centers Will Look Like in 2023?

A: In 2023, the realization of AI’s capabilities and benefits will be more apparent than ever. While some companies may still be hesitant, there will be many more use cases and success stories to reference and tout the positive outcomes for contact centers.

We can all agree that AI technology will continue to evolve and adapt to new business needs within the next year. Along with that, the growth of no-code solutions will continue to shine a light on the true ease of adoption, putting a rest to concerns around the challenges of adoption.

Thank you, Ben, for taking time to share your insight.

It’s been my pleasure!

Ben Rigby is the SVP and Global Head of Product & Engineering at Talkdesk, an end-to-end contact center solutions provider.

How the Modern Contact Center Can Drive Better Results

By Rod Brownridge

The modern contact center has come a long way over the last few decades. The standard used to be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of agents forced to sit in the same room and answer phone calls from customers.

Technology advances have made it so that many times a robot can give customers the information they’re looking for without the need for a conversation with a human. It’s a drastic change that has had considerable impact on the way contact centers do business in the twenty-first century. It’s not just the how that’s come a long way, it’s also the what.

Modern contact centers have many more tools at their disposal and advances in technology have allowed for a skills-based approach that ensures contact center agents are able to easily connect a customer with the best resource to fix their problems.

We now can solve more problems on the first call, and we’ve created a better pathway to customer/client retention and loyalty backed by a commitment to customer service.

But even though technology has improved the contact center over the years, 59 percent of consumers “would rather go through additional channels to contact customer service than have to use their voice to communicate,” according to Business Insider.

The report says that interactions with legacy customer service channels fell 7 percent over a two-year period “due in part to poor customer service.” We have the tools necessary to avoid the deterioration of customer service, and results like this should open the eyes of companies who aren’t putting an intense focus on customer interactions.

Here’s how modern-day technologies are driving effective resolutions while creating a more seamless customer experience and improving customer engagement.

The Advanced Use of Data

Our world has more data now than ever before. And the greatest advantage the modern contact center has now is access to information we didn’t dream possible in the past.

Today’s contact center should use analytical and qualitative tools to track calls and requests every step of the way. And each call or request should result in a detailed automated report that provides information about how the call was set up and what happened along the journey from beginning to end. The purpose of this is educational.

Your customer success teams should learn from each call and use the data and analytical tools to improve future outcomes. Using data to track key performance indicators, learning about call demographics, and using it to track quality control metrics is great, but you need to be able to dig deeper.

Access to conversation-level data enables a better level of customer service. According to McKinsey, companies are going wrong because they “do not have the right foundation in place, due to entrenched organizational structures and processes, legacy IT systems, and other challenges.”

McKinsey says the two root causes of slow advanced analytics adoption are a lack of integrated data across channels and an inability to link analytical insights to actions. With access to advanced analytics, we can reduce call volume and drive down the average handle time, creating a more efficient process.

Meeting Customers Where They Are

Many of today’s customers choose to not call contact centers. We still need to make the contact center work for them. Providing customers access to an integrated, help center portal that acts as a dashboard to supply information and tools—like the status of a request or an active chatbot—gives them options to get help.

Advanced technologies make these options available to the customer on their phones through an app, which they can use to sign up for text updates or automated calls to keep them abreast of what’s going on with their request.

Being nimble is key, and modern solutions supply more options. There will always be some customers who prefer to call and speak with a human. We need to be able to meet them where they are or risk them taking their business elsewhere.

Anticipatory Experiences for the Present and Future

The future of customer service—and where many modern-thinking organizations are going—is in the category of anticipatory customer service. The anticipatory approach allows you to see a customer profile with detailed information before you get on the phone with them, leading to quicker resolve times and shorter conversations.

What’s a straightforward way to impress a customer? Give them the impression that you have all their information at your fingertips and that you’re spending time working on their services when they’re not around.

Don’t forget to delight them with your communication style, frequency, and genuine care. Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions enable this type of customer experience through the cloud, improving customer engagement in many ways.

The standard customer experience has for too long revolved around a reactive approach, and companies have long failed to stand out. It’s the old leaders versus followers debate.

If you don’t stand out, you risk becoming interchangeable from your competitors. Instead, our approach should always focus on creating loyal customers through positive customer service interactions.

When you can anticipate the services your customer needs before they express those needs to you, you become more valuable to them than even they expected.

Today’s Contact Center Knows You Better

One thing hasn’t changed over time and probably never will: Customer service is all about relationships.

Advances in technology have allowed us to bridge gaps and get to resolutions faster and more efficiently than ever before. We’re now able to deliver more consistent results while focusing on managing relationships instead of managing problems.

It’s a two-way transaction. It’s never been easier for the contact center to work for both the company and the customer.

Rod Brownridge is a senior vice president of customer service at Fusion Connect, a provider of managed security and collaboration services. Rod brings two decades of operations, engineering, and customer success management to the role. He leads an award-winning customer success team at Fusion Connect, with a focus on providing frictionless experience to clients and customers alike.