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One of those friends you meet more often while travelling than at home. Cool guy, working for MS, hotel near Solna, Stockholm. We were having dinner – fish, 3 carrots- and finished off with some decent wine, rather expensive in Sweden. He told me about his most recent fight with his wife in their last after work call. He asked me if I had the same problems, and what he could do differently. Interesting question, after my road warrior life for 30+ years, I figured out a few things. I asked him if he was using his laptop during the call, to finish some work while talking to his wife. Yes, I do. And do you answer questions from her with um, aha, and sure? Yes! And does your wife asks you in the middle of the call: what was my last question? Yes, she does! Well, there’s your problem. You’re not in the moment, not in the call, not focussing 100% on your wife, and that makes you much less empathic. She senses that and becomes angry. And rightly so. So what you can do, and what I always do: close my laptop, take off my glasses, close my eyes, and then have the twice a day call with my wife. Be in the moment. Allow yourself to be empathic. Works. Still married to the same wonderful wife after all those years.

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During a meeting with a customer contact center today we talked a lot about Artificial Intelligence (AI). The tech, what it can do, how to start. Multiple vendors. Alpha male discussions. The typical ‘my chatbot is bigger than yours’ discussions. Boring. And yes, AI tech is a great topic, so much to be gained from applying AI in a contact center setting. All sort of cost related savings possible. But that is not really what it’s all about. You have to look at it from a customers point of view. Some of the AI services my brilliant team created for our customers directly, real-time, transcribe the call from voice to text, and then the Artificial Intelligence service summarizes the main points with NLP and defines the next best question. While we can talk at length about this solution and all the benefits it has for call duration, onboarding of new agents, pre-dialer settings and other important KPI’s: that is not what is the most important benefit of using AI for contact centers.

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The real and most import benefit of AI is directly related to the customer. Not having to make notes during the call by the agent, not having to look at the call script, not having to enter, search and shift through multiple screens gives the contact center agent something they never had before. They now can focus 100% on the customer, on the call. They can be in the moment. Connect on a different level. Ask less irrelevant questions, list more. Empathy goes up. Goes up dramatically! You call a contact center when you have a question, a challenge (the US variety of a problem) or a complaint. Talking to someone who is there for you, truly listens and connects to you on an empathic level really makes a difference.

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So, in the end, AI is not about technology, as digital transformation never is, but about customers. The new capabilities we can give our contact center agents, directly influencing the contact with the customer, that is what AI is all about. So in order to make it make sense we need to equally focus on the tech as well as on the AI tech. I call that the adoption is king approach (see my video here). Only if it makes business sense, is technically doable AND is adopted by your employees AI will create business benefits, and lot’s of it.

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A complaint is the best way to make a customer for life. If they feel heard, and you empower your agent to do what is best within reasonable boundaries, your contact center can become the best source of converting customers to ambassadors. Let them speak on your behalf. And the funny thing about empowered, empathic agents is they like their job, and stay with you much longer than on average. Within the Netherlands alone there are job openings for over 9000 new agents. How about you apply AI, connect to your customers in a new way and greatly improve employee satisfaction. Keep the agents you have, and attract new agents to work for you, be the cool place to work. AI-powered empathy. It’s real, it’s here today, and it’s what AI is all about in the end: customers.

Learn more about what AI can do for Contact Centres on the Trifork website.  or download our document: