More than 100 million monthly users of ChatGPT can’t be wrong – there’s clear value in the rapidly advancing technology that is generative AI. The astonishing rise of ChatGPT has proven that chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are now more conversational than clunky, can provide a rapid resolution of requests, and in some cases can perform tasks more accurately and in a shorter time than humans.
While chatbots aren’t entirely a new technology, particularly for customer facing businesses such as contact centres, the swift evolution of generative AI is emerging as a clear opportunity to reduce operating costs and enhance the customer .
Even as its popularity surges, however, it must be acknowledged that ChatGPT is not yet entirely accurate. The platform does not have access to real-time information or knowledge beyond its training data and its responses are based on patterns and information learned during training.
But as ChatGPT and other generative AI applications such as Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service improve, there’s potential for big boosts to bottom lines, with recent research by IT industry analysts Gartner predicting conversational AI will reduce contact centre agent operating costs by $US80 billion by 2026.
With staff representing up to 95% of contact centre costs, cutting edge operators such as TSA Group are seeking to leverage AI to automate processes, streamline post-contact processing, pinpoint automation opportunities and enhance knowledge management processes.
Extended operations for customers’ convenience
One key area where generative AI is assisting TSA Group, according to IT Specialist Software Engineer Timothy Reynolds, is by extending its hours of operation.
“AI and chatbot technology can assist by allowing customers to engage with the contact centre outside of contact hours so you don’t physically need an agent manning the chatbot,” Mr Reynolds says.
“With people’s busy schedules, it may be more convenient for them to reach out early in the morning before work or late in the evening after work, and not be constrained to nine to five or even slightly extended hours.”
Mr Reynolds says contact centre operators are also increasingly seeking to lift their overall efficiency by using smart chatbots to deal with requests that would have previously been handled by a human.
“Attempting to deflect and self-serve requests through the chatbot frees up the agent to deal with more complex queries that actually require human interaction,” Mr Reynolds says.
“There is going to be a big push towards this deflection approach of attempting to resolve simple requests through either chatbot or even voicebot type technology, which will then squeeze additional performance out of the call centre.”
Reinforcing compliance with chatbots
The new technology also has significant benefits back of house, Mr Reynolds says.
“There are definitely efficiencies that can be made in regard to quality assurance and risk compliance,” he says.
“TSA does work for several clients where there are stringent requirements on scripting, caveats and conditions that need to be communicated. By using a smart chatbot, there’s less risk of a human agent forgetting to play a particular disclaimer, because it’s baked into the script for the chatbot and it will always present that information.”
Opportunities in AI are not without challenges
But while AI-powered solutions provide significant opportunity, Mr Reynolds says they don’t come without challenges.
Mr Reynolds says TSA Group is currently grappling with significant complexities around the training of chatbots and verifying that the outputs they are providing are factually correct.
“Risk mitigation around personally identifiable information is another big component around that,” he says.
“The technologies that we’re using and integrating with are very open in that you can feed them the data in a number of different ways. It’s very flexible and the content that it’s able to consume is quite broad as well. There is less upfront conversion of all of the existing data, it’s able to read Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoints, and it can also consume a wide range of data types, which is really handy.”
Increasing the value of empathetic interactions
And for those who fear rapid advances in chatbot technology will replace people entirely, Mr Reynolds says there will always be a need for genuine human interaction.
“How TSA traditionally manages this is through skills-based routing, depending on the type of interaction,” he says.
“If the interaction is classified as riskier, we would feed those through to human agents, rather than just blindly feeding everyone through the same sort of AI experience. If we’re talking about hardship and other financial requests, that’s traditionally the one that’s been, even with human interactions with the contact centre, where the more experienced agents would be fielding those calls.
“It’s all on a scale in terms of the complexity of the request, and whether there are any human concerns that would factor into it.”
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