AI and the Contact Center: Working Together in Harmony

I originally wrote today’s post for NICE inContact. It appeared on their site on July 1, 2021.

Problem statementThe agent experience drives the customer experience. But when agents get bogged down with mundane, repetitive tasks, it takes them away from what’s important, interesting, and impactful – and both the agent experience and the customer experience suffer. Is using AI in the contact center the right solution to get agents back on track?

There’s a lot that’s been written about reducing customer effort to ensure customers have a great experience with your contact center when trying to get questions answered or issues resolved. It’s an important topic because customers’ expectations about the experience are constantly evolving and, today, they expect interactions with your brand to be simple, effortless, easy, convenient, personalized, and much, much more.

But there hasn’t been much written about agent effort and the impact that it has on both the agent experience and on the customer experience. I’m not referring to the (discretionary) effort that agents put into their work every day; I’m talking about the effort it takes for them  to do their jobs, i.e., are there processes or outdated tools that hinder their ability to do their jobs in an efficient manner?

Why is that important to consider? First, if you want to ensure that your agents have a great experience, making it easy for them to do their jobs and to do them well is a good place to start. Second, there’s this concept called the spillover effect, i.e., the tendency of one person’s actions and emotions to affect how other people around her feel. So think about the effort that your agents must put forth in order to do their jobs – and then how that impacts the experience customers on the phone have with them. If it’s painful or frustrating for agents to do their jobs, then the customer is going to feel that pain; they won’t get the best version of the agent they’re interacting with, now will the agent be efficient in the interaction with the customer.

So let’s think for a moment about agent effort. How do you reduce effort for agents and then, ultimately, for customers?

  • How can you simplify workflows and processes?
  • Can you cut four steps from the nine required to do something?
  • How can you become easier to do business with – internally?
  • How can you make it easier for agents to do what you ask them to do?
  • How do you make it easier for agents to deliver a great customer experience?
  • What complexities, complications, and bureaucracy can you remove?
  • Are agents working with outdated tools and data?


For many, AI and automation are the immediate go-to solutions to address these questions and to reduce both agent and customer effort. That’s not wrong, but you’ve got to do some due diligence to ensure that you’ll not only acquire the correct technology but also use that technology efficiently and effectively, so as not to make things even worse for agents and for customers!

The first step, then, is to identify where the effort is occurring for your agents – and where it’s impacting them and customers the most. Don’t waste time reducing effort in one part of the experience if it’s much more of a deal breaker in another part. You’ve got to prioritize where you’ll reduce effort. And then you can solve for it.

To learn the four steps you can take to identify where the effort is occurring – and then how to use AI and automation to solve for that, read the rest of the post on NICE inContact’s site. You’ll also read about two specific use cases showcasing how AI and automation can help reduce agent effort in the contact center, and, in turn, make for a better customer experience, as well.

Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence. ~ Ginni Rometty

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first bookCustomer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2021, she wrote the manuscript for her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business, which will be available in early 2022! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Read the original post here.