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August 24, 2023
With artificial intelligence (AI) seizing center stage in the scrabble for contact center supremacy, providers in the area are all about touting their futuristic contact center AI capabilities.
Research conducted by Anurag Agrawal, founder and analyst at Techaisle, the global research firm, highlights that only 25% of managed service providers now deliver AI solutions. Compare this to 73% offering analytics.
Agrawal’s research also discovered that overall, 43% of channel partners hope to provide AI solutions by the end of 2023. With a ton of digital transformation yet to take place concerning AI in the channel, there is still a lot for members of the channel to learn about considering futuristic contact center AI.
Some of today’s abilities already seem like something from a sci-fi film. For instance, “sentiment analysis” can divulge when a customer is upset, confused, or conceivably wants to switch providers.
Such consumer understanding might qualify contact center management to step in and help agents de-escalate a problem, enriching CX (customer experience) concurrently — depending on what AI forewarns them about, of course.
It almost goes without saying, but as things stand, contact center AI is capable of far more than most would have once reckoned.
With contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) providers like Dialpad recently dropping a large language model (LLM), hoping to enhance CX, we set out to glimpse at futuristic contact center AI and its potential.
Dialpad’s Brian Peterson
“The more contact center-based AI performance progresses, AI will evolve to be even more ultramodern,” Dialpad CTO and co-founder Brian Peterson told Channel Futures. “It will be able to grade every single sales or support call. It will also be able to detect customer purchase intent levels and predict churn based on customer conversations. And I expect to see voice bots becoming undetectable.”
What will that look like in actuality? In short, Peterson acknowledges that voice bots of tomorrow will be “virtually indiscernible from humans.” Another refinement he calls “not so far off” is AI’s capacity to auto-learn from questions and answers between agents and customers “to generate unvarnished retorts in real-time.”
Head of CCaaS product marketing at 8×8, Jessica Smith, told Channel Futures that futuristic contact center AI will enable customers to interact in the metaverse, which she believes has the potential to “greatly change” how businesses engage with customers and build experiences.
8×8’s Jessica Smith
“As consumers interact with businesses in the metaverse, expectations will change again. The bar will be raised as current reservations and constraints related to immersive experiences subside and consumers begin to expect and demand this new mode of communication,” Smith said.
Smith also noted in a virtual sit-down that customer data platforms (CDPs) will have a significant role to play in delivering on customer preferences and expectations to leverage new types of interactions. The collecting, analyzing and segmenting of customer data will create an avenue to drive what she calls “extreme personalization for Metaverse meetups.”
Smith gave an example of a customer granting access to their secure, global electronic purchasing account profile. From there, a retailer can access the …
… profile to understand their intent. For example, if that customer is ready for a kitchen renovation, the vendor might infer that from their profile.
“From there, the customer can be proactively invited to attend a virtual remodeling expo on-demand,” said Smith. “Then the customer spends a disproportionate amount of time in a virtual room exploring the vendor’s cabinetry.”
The vendor can then initiate a virtual walkthrough/demo of their cabinet offerings with the customer opting to see a rendered model of the desired cabinets and configuration using uploaded photos and specifications.
“A customer-service technician might then conduct a virtual walkthrough to confirm all measurements via remote 3-D rendering, prepare a quote and send it back to the customer via that same global e-purchasing account. The customer can accept and submit an e-purchase agreement or interact with an online advisor to clarify or revise.”
This is the kind of futuristic contact center AI Smith believes is not too far off.
Everything from how channel partners package AI and bundle it into offerings to how they market and eventually sell AI in the context of CCaaS could be impacted. Agrawal says that the IT channel is at a critical juncture.
Techaisle’s Anurag Agrawal
“It can either continue to operate in the old way or embrace the future and become a force for change,” he said.
The channel will have to learn how to convey the significance of these features that companies seek. They may know they ought to leverage AI, but perhaps not how to get the most from artificial intelligence. Furthermore, Agrawal told Channel Futures, “Channel partners have an essential role to play in the generative AI space.”
“With the rise of generative AI, led by companies like OpenAI, channel partners are starting to explore how these technologies can impact their products” Agrawal continued. “While many vendors claim to offer unique generative AI solutions using large language models, the reality is somewhat more complex.”
Agrawal argues that some partners have compared the hype around generative AI to the trend known as “cloud washing” in the past. Vendors would rebrand their products or services by merely appending the term “cloud” to them.
“To be effective in the generative AI space, channel partners must go beyond vendor-provided education and develop a deep understanding of the various platforms available, from Google Cloud Vertex AI to Amazon Bedrock.”
Agrawal said channel members ought to acquaint themselves with other players on the market, building expertise in the “rapidly evolving research ecosystem of generative AI.”
“One theme merges analytics and AI. Data. Data (are to) remain a key asset for every organization and a critical input to practically all business actions,” he said. “In their ways, both analytics and AI will help businesses to capitalize on data and build their LLMs — and as a result, both will be critical components of business strategies,” Agrawal told Channel Futures.
With futuristic contact center AI bringing many possibilities to the table, it is unmistakable that partners face an uphill education battle concerning AI and conveying the benefits to potential buyers.
They will need to learn to communicate the importance of stated tools; that, and how contact center AI can transform a business and what it can offer by way of customer experience augmentation. For that, it will require vendors to stop marketing with confusing jargon and to start talking plainly about benefits.
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.
As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.
Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.
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