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CONTENT LIBRARY

Hottest information about
10th Annual Optimising Contact Centres Summit

2019

THOMAS REBY

Senior Strategy Manager
Google

3 Questions For Thomas Reby

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Technology will play an ever-increasing role in complementing human ability. Technology provides solutions to aspects of service that are repeatable and where rapid, error-free operation is paramount. Areas such as identity/address verification, scheduling and status reporting are all examples in which technology can free up human resource and allow companies to re-deploy time and energy in to service that requires empathy, evaluation and non-standard solutions. Humans will be augmented, not replaced by technology, and my hope is that we will start seeing more focus on service and relationships, since the parts of customer service that are “script-prone” get automated. In addition, AI will help us build connections and relations between events that we would not be able to identify with our limited cognitive ability. We are already seeing many examples of this across industries and in contact centres I believe predictive service intervention and proactive, outbound contacts will be fuelled by AI. We will probably see AI help drive specialisation and advanced staffing models, such as that customer wait time becomes a thing of the past. Likewise, AI-driven coaching will help train agents much more specifically in the areas needed. Far too often operations managers are relying on simple analysis of operational data to make contact centre decisions and I anticipate with AI that we will increase the depth of understanding dramatically. We will gain a new level of knowledge behind Customer Satisfaction increases (and decreases) as well as much better understanding of why individual performance varies in contact centres.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service carries the obvious examples of rapid, on-demand help at low cost. Effective self-service allows for the customer to gather the knowledge needed, when convenient and without human interaction, it creates very little overhead. A less obvious benefit is meta-data capturing. As self-service journeys are logged or journaled, meta-data is created which helps feed process improvement initiatives, all the way back to product design and serviceability. This is very powerful, and coupled with AI, the meta-data will be able to provide unexpected insight leading to improved customer experience.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

In my experience, agent performance and productivity is driven through instilling a sense of ownership and self-direction. Too much focus on metric optimisation and coaching towards metrics, leads to disenfranchised employees who think with a transactional, sub-optimising mind-set. The key to boost agent performance lies in making sure that they place a part in developing the business. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure coaching is targeting their growth and goals and the performance will follow
  • Take their feedback seriously and improve process and product accordingly to gain their trust
  • Allow them to help set targets and own their business reviews as a team. Hand over accountability and after a transition period you will see a level of commitment you would not have imagined

A lot of literature exists on self-managed and self-directed teams and I would strongly suggest anyone looking to improve team performance to look into bringing in a degree of self-managed teams as a start!

Thomas is a Senior Strategy Manager at Google with extensive experience from technology companies, including Google, YouTube, eBay, Dell and Electronic Arts. During his career he has managed global operations in e-commerce, technical support, content management and digital advertising, as well as held key leadership positions developing strategies for customer experience, revenue generation and knowledge management. He has advanced CX research methodology by shifting traditional survey processes towards progressive action-oriented insights, centring on pre-empting failure and knowing when to deviate from standards. In addition, he introduced a fusion of sales and services, delivering customer success through machine learning models that drive product adoption and revenue growth as a byproduct of customer goal attainment. Through seven years of dedicated Knowledge Management experience he has transformed KM capabilities of two Fortune 500 companies. This includes establishing knowledge sharing culture, implementing KM systems and tools, as well as tracking and optimising the value of knowledge and knowledge contributors across global teams. Currently, Thomas is a Strategy Manager at Google, supporting consumer operations in areas such as Gmail, Google Maps and Pixel hardware. He is a father of two and currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.

ROMAIN CUISINIER

Head of Social Media Servicing
Air France

3 Questions For Romain Cuisinier

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Social media made it much easier and natural for customers to contact a brand than before. Conversations became the norm. With 1 million visitors a day on our commercial website and one ticket sold every three seconds that is hundred thousands of customers who contact us every month. At the same time, the amount of conversations that individuals hold daily make it paramount for companies to be relevant and personalised in their answers to stand out from the crowd.
To tackle the growing volumes and the need for personalisation is precisely the challenge we expect AI and technology to help us with. They already are reliable enablers – with personal agent assistant and many automated processes – but they should become even more essential in the future, allowing our agents to focus their efforts where no AI can be as subtle and expert as a human.
Technology should help automate increasingly complex processes (booking, payment, authentications, calls to external data systems, etc.) leaving more time for agents to focus on care and sales than on technical skills.
Combination of different types of AI (image recognition, voice detection, NLP…) will ease documents analysis. Dispatch of customer requests to chatbots and specialised agents will rely more and more on AI until it is fully automated. New features allow contact centres to propose a customer to shift seamlessly to another channel where there is less waiting time. Last, translation by AI should really grow, allowing companies to service more languages while reducing the amount of spoken languages in their contact centres.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Building self-service solutions gives company a back-up plan to offer to their customers in case it can’t assist them proactively or quickly enough. However, asking your customers to do any kind of job themselves when you could do it for them does not reflect a very caring attitude and makes you miss the opportunity to engage a conversation throughout which you could learn a lot and even sell more or better to people who need you.
Still, to provide self-service solutions to your customers gives them the opportunity not to rely entirely on you and to feel in control. This freedom and autonomy given to the customers can be highly appreciated by some of them who want to handle things their way and avoid any kind of direct contact with your company.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

Two things mainly:
1. It is paramount to make agents aware of their importance in the customers’ satisfaction/brand perception process. Assistance is part of the product/service you sell, they have to be as good as the promise your company made to the customers. Show them the satisfaction results of their good or bad work and make them feel the power they have over the customer.

2. Agents are the experts. They need to be considered and they are the best to design their own tools. Keep them updated with the latest technologies available, set-up regular brainstorm sessions to involve them in designing their future tools. Also, build feedback loops to improve their current ones.

Romain Cuisinier is a holder of a degree of applied mathematics; he first worked for the BNP Paribas group before he joined Air France in 2007 as a researcher on customer behaviour at their Marketing Department. He is now part of the Social Media Team and responsible for innovations and development to leverage Social Media Servicing.

JAY TAIT

Head of Customer Service Operation Analytics
Royal Bank of Scotland

3 Questions For Jay Tait

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Technology in general is already having a huge influence in our contact centres but this will only get greater. The way our customers lead their lives means they expect:

  • more options when looking to contact companies
  • a greater pace of resolution of their request or issue
  • to know exactly the progress of their service at any time
  • to continue to get excellent “Bedside Manner” no matter the time, circumstance or channel of communication

This can only be achieved through the greater and higher quality, use of technology and the smart application of technologies such as AI. It is important to state that the success of the technology is fully reliant on what you put into it. If your contact centre staff are all capturing data in different ways then it does not matter how much technology you implement, its benefits will always be greatly reduced.

AI is a buzz word at the moment but that does not mean it is only a passing fad. The key consideration in the use of AI is not in the volume but in the power of the use cases. Where AI can progressively learn about the behaviours of your customers and actively influence your offerings and processes is always the right place to start. The most important thing while doing this is to realise that good data collection is fundamental and definitely drives a quicker, positive outcome.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service gives customers the opportunity to engage with companies in a way and a time that suits them. This is always a benefit for the customers. From our point of view this is a positive step as it can reduce the volume we experience in our contact centres for things which are relatively minor.

The main disadvantages are that not all queries can be efficiently self-served. On top of this, it is also very hard to have a positive effect on customer satisfaction without the correct interactions. Our duty of care to our customers also means we need to be able to recognise and respond to them in a way that self-service will never allow.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

From my point of view, this is easy to answer, but not so easy to implement. This can all be achieved from the correct collection and use of data. If you have the right data, all to a high quality, then you can implement the right tools and processes to ensure whenever an agent is in communication with a customer, they know the right information, with no lag and they are able to present a predetermined best outcome solution to the customer.

Jay Tait is based in Edinburgh Scotland and works for The Royal Bank of Scotland as Head of Customer Services & Operations Analytics. Jay is responsible for providing Analytical Insight for the Service Centres that support the Commercial Bank customers. This has a focus on providing a better experience for the customer and driving efficiencies to way we provide services.
Jay has 20 years of experience in the IT Services and Financial Services Sector.

VYTIS ZALIMAS

Head of Contact Centres
SEB

3 Questions For Vytis Zalimas

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Without any doubts, I can say that AI and technology will be the main partner for human beings, and it will take over all simple, technical, routine tasks. Additionally, I believe technology will be a great advisor to human beings in terms of data analytics and outputs out of it. I have a vision that before agent will say hello to the customer, systems will analyse who is calling and most probably why is calling. In terms of metaphor, it is going to be a TANGO dance where one partner will be responsible for feelings and the other one for routine.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

There are two points of view, customer and organisational. From customer perspective, self-service will allow to solve simple request whenever customer will be willing to do so. UX will play a major role. From organisational perspective, I see pros and cons. Benefit – fewer costs to serve a customer, risk – to lose connection with customer or possibility to do cross or upsell.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

a) With the help of WFM, organisation should offer flexible working hours (fulfil at least 90% of agent needs)
b) Show importance and contribution of their results to company’s success
c) Find and offer a good balance between teamwork results and personal performance

Vytis Zalimas is a Sales and Customer Care professional, working in a managerial position for more than 12 years. Banking is his 3rd industry, before that he was working in aviation and ICT sectors. P&L responsibility, team work and change management are areas of his strength and interest. Talking about hobbies, Vytis plays tennis, football, beach volleyball, he also loves skiing and driving motorbike. Visiting new places & trying new things is in his DNA too.

ZJ LOH

Staff Software Engineer
Uber

3 Questions For ZJ LOH

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

The main goal for AI and automation will increase agent efficiency. Using AI and NLP, we can figure out the intention for a given support ticket and route it to the best agent. When the system understands the user’s intent, it can again leverage AI/NLP to identify the actions to be performed by the agent. As the training matures, AI will eventually either suggest resolutions to the agents or resolve the contact itself. What will happen ultimately is that AI and automation will solve most of the simple cases while assisting agents in more complex cases. This process will eventually reduce the workforce need for contact centres.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

When customers are empowered to resolve their issues themselves via automation, the volume of support interactions which need agent interaction, and consequently support costs will be significantly reduced while preserving a high CSAT rate. However, not all self-services are created equal. Having poorly designed self-service flows in the system can be counter-productive and have zero effect on contact rate reduction. When customers have to go through more steps that do not solve their issues, it will potentially confuse and frustrate them and adds an undue cognitive burden on the user.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

Showing them what they need to know and what they need to do as quickly and accurately as possible is the key. As soon as they have to hunt for information or standard operation procedures, handling time is already wasted. Furthermore, assigning the wrong contact to the wrong agent will also decrease their productivity. As such, by leveraging AI, we are able to accurately predict the right information, policy, and actions for our agents.

ZJ Loh is a system architect for Uber Customer Care. He has built the Uber customer support system from the ground-up. His biggest challenge is to sustain Uber-scaled growth while keeping the support cost in check. He is now focusing on evolving Uber customer care into the world of self-service, automation, and artificial intelligence. Before that, he worked for the workforce management area in Nice System Inc.

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