According to Canam Research’s new report, 78 percent of companies using call centers in the U.S. report plans to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) in their contact centers over the next three years. And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague businesses across industries – one thing has been made clear – AI is no longer a nice-to-have luxury for enterprises, it’s a necessity.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Michael Heric, a partner at consulting firm Bain & Co., said “For many, the crisis is accelerating the vision that they’ve already had for a long time. While it could have taken years or even decades to make that shift, I think you’re going to see it much faster now.”
The article states, “Companies with call centers and customer-help centers, in particular, are moving rapidly to adjust their operations for a remote-work environment. Some businesses are developing bot-based answer systems that try to siphon off some calls to automated systems and prioritize calls that require person-to-person interaction.”
AI A Necessary Investment for Banks
In The Financial Brand, Alex Johnson, director of portfolio marketing for FICO, said it is extremely important for banks to now give consumers highly tailored banking solutions to build trust and brand loyalty in a hostile climate, “Most of the time, consumers don’t think about banking at all. They just expect it to work. The only times they really think about banking is when there is a financial need or when they’re facing a crisis.”
And yet, many banks lack simple digital offerings that create a personalized experience. As The Financial Brand concludes, most responses by banks during the pandemic have consisted of email messages to customers and members highlighting the bank’s “commitment to the community” and “willingness to help,” but with little direction beyond phone numbers to call or a website to visit.
“In these situations, it becomes clear the importance of digital banking solutions across the organization, from opening accounts and applying for loans to disbursement of funds,” the article states. And by providing a virtual assistant via conversational AI, banks can create the personalized two-way communication customers crave during this time of uncertainty, without taxing their existing employees.
The Case for AI
The Canam Research report says the top goals for implementing AI, according to respondents, are the following:
- Cost savings
- Customer self-service
- Minimizing customer wait times
- Improving CSAT rates
- Reducing average handle times
- Agent empowerment/agent engagement
- Increasing ROI
- Executive support for AI initiatives
It’s clear that AI has a role in the roadmap for most enterprises. The study states that the biggest hurdle to getting started with AI is figuring out where to begin. Perhaps the most clear case for AI is the opportunity to expand self-service options to customers, as is the case within the financial services industry.
55 percent of respondents indicated they plan to use AI in the form bots and self-service in their contact centers and digital offerings; with 57 percent saying they hope to reduce cost with AI and 45 percent saying their goal is to reduce wait times with AI.
“Although there are challenges, companies of all sizes are realizing the need for AI automation for offering better self-service capabilities and improving agent productivity. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when,” the report states.
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