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Cisco Announces AI Enhancements to Webex Contact Center

Cisco Announces AI Enhancements to Webex Contact Center

The News: Cisco kicked off its Cisco LIVE 2024 event with several announcements focused on the use of AI within its Webex Contact Center CCaaS product. The announcements are focused on helping organizations create and manage conversational self-service interactions, deploy AI to help contact center agents, and integrate third-party virtual agent technology.

You can read the press release announcing the news on Cisco’s website.

Cisco Announces AI Enhancements to Webex Contact Center

Analyst Take: Cisco announced several new features that incorporate AI into its Webex Contact Center CCaaS product at Cisco LIVE 2024, which are built to help organizations design and manage conversational self-service experiences, provide an AI Assistant for contact center agents, and integrate third-party virtual agent solutions.

The enhancements are designed to leverage generative AI to help reduce the number of manual steps a customer or agent needs to complete a given task, which should result in less friction, faster time to resolution, and an overall better experience.

Generative AI Power Contact Center Features

The following generative AI features were announced by Cisco:

  • Virtual agent summaries
  • Dropped call summaries
  • Suggested responses*
  • Wrap-up summaries*
  • Coaching highlights*
  • Topic analysis
  • Automatic CSAT
  • Agent burnout detection

The features marked with an asterisk are not yet available, but Cisco says they will be incorporated into the product in the forthcoming months. Of the features listed above, two are particularly interesting: the automatic CSAT score generation and the agent burnout detection.

According to Cisco, only about 2% of customers complete surveys after an interaction with a call center, which means that these organizations are only capturing a very small percentage of customer feedback. Using Cisco’s AI technology, each interaction is assigned a CSAT score, which is based on an analysis of the voice conversation as well as transcript using sentiment analysis. This provides supervisors the opportunity to view the CSAT scores right after the interaction has occurred, and then provide feedback to their agents, which can further be used for training as well as coaching.

The true benefit of this feature is being able to capture customer feedback across all interactions, not just a small subset, which may not be representative of all interactions, and are likely biased in some way (generally, people provide feedback when they’re really satisfied, or really dissatisfied, but more middle-of-the-road interactions are often not captured.)

The other interesting announcement is the Agent Burnout detection tool, which is designed to use AI to automatically detect whether the agent stress level is rising due to challenging customers, complex inquiries, or inquiries that are taking a significant amount of time, effort, or steps to complete. This allows managers to identify agents who are stressed, and then route challenging calls to other agents or simply ask the stressed agents to take a break and reset.

Contact center work has long been seen as a challenging job. With agents handling more complex tasks, more demanding customers, and more inquiries at once due to digital channel use, the agent burnout detection tool, now in beta, is likely going to be a highly utilized feature, given the challenges and expenses involved in attracting and retaining quality human agents.

Survey of Beta Customers Indicates Success with AI Feature Enhancements

Cisco also announced that it has published KPIs from its beta customers using new features within its Contact Center solution and found significant performance improvements as a result of the use of AI features that have been rolled out to 100 customers for testing and refinement. See the results in the graphic below.

Cisco Announces AI Enhancements to Webex Contact Center
Image Source: Webex

Clearly, AI is providing benefits to contact center customers; the real test is how well the solution performs across a wide range of customer types and deployment configurations, which may incorporate a wider range of third-party integrations with other CRMs, CDPs, and even home-grown applications.

Leveling Up Conversational Voice Capabilities

Another innovation that was announced is Cisco’s own native conversational voice virtual assistant, which is now embedded directly within Webex Contact Center. Previously, contact center administrators had to use a third-party integration, which is still available, but now the platform’s native virtual agent technology is built into the platform. This enables faster implementation times, and reduces the burden on IT.

Similarly, Cisco says it is enabling customers to bring their own virtual agents into the Webex Contact Center, which allows customers with very specific processes or subject matter to be better served by a virtual agent that has been trained and tuned on specific corpa of data. This also demonstrates that Cisco understands that the CCaaS market of the future will continue to be a mix of integrated platform utilization and best-of-breed solutions.

Ultimately, these feature enhancements appear to be part of a larger strategy from Cisco to help them challenge some of the incumbent players in the CCaaS market. Banking on AI functionality and highlighting the performance benefits is a good starting point, but the company will need to demonstrate the overall economic value of their solution to convince customers—many of whom view contact center purchases as part of a larger productivity/collaboration purchase, and often gravitate to other vendors.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Analyst Coverage of Cisco Live 2024 Highlighting Innovations and Announcements

Cisco Q3 2024: Networking, Security, Observability, and Data Wax

Cisco Hypershield: Autonomous, Application-Centric Security

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek, CNBC.com, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.

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