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New CX Research from CallMiner, eduMe, and Calabrio

Research Topics Include AI Investment Among Organizations, Employee Customer Skills, and AI’s Impact on Center Agents

New CX Research from CallMiner, eduMe, and Calabrio

CallMiner: Organizations Are Uncertain of the AI Technology for Investing

A majority of contact center decision-makers are examining a range of AI-powered solutions for CX purposes in which to invest during the next 12 months, but 44% remain unsure of the type of AI technology that would best meet their needs when collecting and analyzing CX data, according to a new study from CallMiner, the Massachusetts-based provider of AI-enabled speech and customer interaction analytics.

In its annual CX Landscape Report, conducted in partnership with London-headquartered market research firm Vanson Bourne, CallMiner reveals that 49% of global CX and contact center leaders firmly believe that AI will help them achieve greater efficiency to optimize CX strategies when under financial strain, and 33% agree that AI adoption will be critical to how their organizations approach CX in the future.

Yet many fear the risks inherent to leveraging AI for CX or customer service use, including exposure to security or compliance risks (45%); spreading misinformation (43%); and giving biased, discriminatory, or inappropriate responses to customers (41%). The AI-powered mechanisms that leaders are considering include generative AI solutions (43%) and conversational intelligence offerings (34%).

Related Article: CallMiner Report: Firms Are Unable to Spur Stronger CX for Various Reasons

Aside from the uncertainty factor, the report also reveals that many organizations are not doing enough with the insights being unlocked by customer data collection and analysis. For example, just 35% of organizations surveyed offer regular group training and retraining for their employees, and only 18% carry out tailored 1:1 coaching.

Moreover, organizations are struggling to communicate effectively across departments. Half the organizations surveyed lack effective communication among departments in aligning with CX data and feedback, which limits the success of CX data utilization, and 43% cite a lack of clarity on how to act on data insights. And despite regularly sharing CX and satisfaction metrics with their boards, 84% believe that the use of such data by leadership should be improved.

Even so, the CX and contact center industries are constantly evolving, says Paul Bernard, president and CEO at CallMiner, who cites progress in areas such as breadth of data collection and AI adoption. “When used with appropriate safeguards and a well-defined strategy, AI can make it easier to deliver exceptional customer experiences,” Bernard declares, adding that the most successful organizations will be those that combine AI-powered solutions with human oversight.

EduMe: Retail and Hospitality Leaders Worry About Employees’ Customer Skills

A new report from eduMe, the London-based provider of a frontline training program for the retail and hospitality industries, reveals that 83% of the leaders in these sectors do not have confidence in the ability of their employees to interact with customers.

The top three challenges currently facing retail and hospitality include employee turnover, CX, and sales, according to the report titled Navigating Business Challenges in Retail and Hospitality: Insights and Strategies for 2024. However, leaders are also concerned about a host of other issues, such as how to keep employees goal-oriented, the inability of employees to retain information or to demonstrate care, and fear among employees to engage with customers.

“The retail and hospitality industries are facing a number of challenges, but to see a lack of confidence around customer service and customer experience abilities so keenly felt… [it] shows the stark need for a shake-up in the methods being used to provide these employees with skills and knowledge,” says Jacob Waern, eduMe CEO and founder. The lack of confidence is especially concerning because 93% of leaders report spending considerable time training employees, Waern adds.

The report also finds that outdated training methods continue to be used, with 92% still for the most part using face-to-face training or desktop-based learning. Such systems require time away from customers and are delivered in a way that lowers engagement, relevance, and accessibility, the report continues. A better approach, Waern says, would be to provide training on mobile devices in short formats, such as “TikTok for Learning,” which brings about notable improvements in employee retention and rendering customer service.

Lack of accessibility, another challenge highlighted by the report, could be resolved by embedding training into HR systems such as Workday and communications tools such as Microsoft Teams.

Despite these challenges, leaders are committed to upskilling employees because they understand the integral part that employees play in providing better CX, with engaged employees exerting more influence on customer satisfaction than even product quality or price, the report concludes.

Calabrio: AI Will Impact Contact Center Agents—But Not In The Way Anticipated

Although much debate rages around the impending role of AI in the contact center, a new report from workforce performance and customer engagement company Calabrio states with certainty that the technology will not be used to replace contact center agents entirely. In fact, more than two-thirds of contact center managers predict an increase in the number of agents during the next decade and believe that AI’s greatest promise will be its ability to make agent jobs easier and more productive.

In its annual analysis of the contact center market, the Calabrio report, titled State of the Contact Center 2023: Activating the Agent of the Future, expects the agent workforce to co-evolve with AI. Even so, managers feel that agents are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AI-fueled future. And if contact centers are not giving agents the skills to adapt and develop, they are already falling behind, the report warns.

“The role of technology, including AI, is poised to gain even greater momentum in the contact center—we’re already seeing customers embrace automation and AI-fueled analytics to maximize their operations,” says Kevin Jones, president and CEO at Minneapolis-based Calabrio. “But when technology removes a large portion of the administrative tasks from humans, agents will need to adapt to embrace complex customer inquiries and become true brand guardians.”

Related Article: CX Wins by Amdocs, Perficient, Tattle, Semos Cloud, and Calabrio

Contact center managers say AI has the potential to optimize business processes and create visibility and efficiencies. The AI features ranked by managers as most impactful include augmenting agent and manager productivity (25%), optimizing forecasting and scheduling (20%), measuring and understanding contact center productivity (20%), and providing AI-driven chatbot services to customers (20%).

As CX organizations look for ways to boost productivity, the focus on how AI can improve productivity is critical. But with automation becoming the new normal, contact center managers recognize a greater need among agents to develop critical thinking and to become adaptable to change. These skills are most frequently identified as lacking and also the ones impacted the most when an agent is stressed or disengaged. To bridge this gap, managers must conduct targeted training and development programs for agents, another area where AI can assist, the report notes.

Training and skills development emerge as the top strategies for attracting and retaining talented agents for both current (35%) and future (30%) success. But, while acknowledging the need for progress, the report also reveals that only 45% of contact center managers believe their agents currently possess all the required skills.
That low percentage underscores the urgency for contact center leaders to invest in comprehensive training initiatives so that as the industry changes, organizations can prioritize harnessing AI’s potential in empowering―not replacing—agents, the report indicates.

Author Information

Alex is responsible for writing about trends and changes that are impacting the customer experience market. He had served as Principal Editor at Village Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based consultancy on technology impacting healthcare and healthcare-related industries. Alex was also Associate Director for Content Management at Omdia and Informa Tech, where he produced white papers, executive summaries, market insights, blogs, and other key content assets. His areas of coverage spanned the sectors grouped under the technology vertical, including semiconductors, smart technologies, enterprise & IT, media, displays, mobile, power, healthcare, China research, industrial and IoT, automotive, and transformative technologies.

At IHS Markit, he was Managing Editor of the company’s flagship IHS Quarterly, covering aerospace & defense, economics & country risk, chemicals, oil & gas, and other IHS verticals. He was Principal Editor of analyst output at iSuppli Corp. and Managing Editor of Market Watch, a fortnightly newsletter highlighting significant analyst report findings for pitching to the media. He started his career in writing as an Editor-Reporter for The Associated Press.

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