The global pandemic has completely transformed how customers engage with brands and service providers, with store closures prohibiting face-to-face interactions and forcing customers to engage online or via the telephone.
Here, Jay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing at Talkdesk, explains how artificial intelligence (AI) and Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) technology is allowing non technical staff with domain knowledge – such as contact centre agents and supervisors – to train AI models which will in turn set new customer experience automation standards for contact centres.
Customer services – and the tools in the customer service world – changed dramatically last year, forcing almost all customer interactions online. For business, this presented an array of challenges and the use of AI-powered tools suddenly became vital to ensure an acceptable level of continuity.
A recent Talkdesk Research report – “The Future of AI in the Contact Center” – reveals a positive outlook for AI in contact centers, as 84 per cent of customer experience (CX) professionals expect their company’s total spending on AI and automation to increase in 2025 compared with 2021. Talkdesk also found an overwhelming majority (89 per cent) of CX professionals believe in the importance of leveraging AI in the contact center, with another 82 per cent saying AI is increasingly necessary for business success.
Similarly, a McKinsey report, published towards the end of 2020, found that of those surveyed, 50 per cent had adopted AI in at least one business function, with AI adoption highest within the product or service-development, and service-operations functions. The report goes on to highlight how, thanks to investment, AI ‘high performers’ tend to develop and employ their own AI related talent, such as data engineers, data architects and translators.
However, for the vast majority who are relatively new to the AI revolution, employing a specialist team of AI experts within their contact centre simply isn’t viable, and they often rely on existing teams to manage these systems. Later we’ll take a look at how Human-in-the-Loop AI technologies can resolve this challenge, but first let’s take a quick look at how AI is being deployed today.
Transforming workforce productivity
In simple terms, AI is processing large amounts of data to “learn” solutions to problems. One of the founding pioneers of AI, professor John McCarthy from Stanford University, described it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”. But it took many years for AI to overcome its biggest obstacle: the lack of computer storage and processing power required for the vast amounts of data for AI systems to function well.
There is still plenty of hype, jargon, and abstract technology, making it difficult for non-experts to understand how AI proves its worth. However, thanks to computing power and data storage advancement through cloud computing, AI is now well-positioned to do incredible things and can be usefully deployed in practically every industry.
Transforming workforce productivity is an important area where AI delivers excellent value through automation. At Talkdesk, we believe automation driven by AI is the path to customer experience (CX) excellence.
What is ‘Human-in-the-Loop’ technology?
Implementing the right AI tools will help to harness data to make fast decisions or quickly deduce conclusions. Contact centres can take more proactive actions, moving away from complicated interactive voice response systems and long wait times that cause customer frustration and damage brand value.
Emerging solutions, like Human-in-the-Loop technology, allow humans to provide information and knowledge for AI training and this is quickly being viewed as essential in the ongoing maturation of AI, also making it more accessible for small and medium-sized businesses.
Via these systems, non-technical staff with a level of business or domain expertise can improve automation performance. Not only does this lower the barriers to AI adoption (shortening the time to value of these tools), it also helps businesses make the best possible use of their customer service experts, agents and supervisors, who can embed their own knowledge into the AI architecture.
It’s a popular misconception that once installed, machine learning models require minimal input and update. In fact, they need to constantly be trained using human assistance to ensure customer expectations are always met.
Automation that delights customers
We have witnessed businesses right now automating 80 per cent of their contact centre interactions. But to achieve this, it’s imperative to lower the barrier to AI adoption in contact centers. More specifically, updating and maintaining AI models that drive accurate automation will need more accessible technology for contact centres to achieve scalable automation solutions.
‘Human-in-the-Loop’ technology democratizes AI model training, which in turn successfully resolves more cases through automation. This improves accuracy, decreases the cost per case and increases customer satisfaction.
We believe we’ll begin to see a trend towards re-skilling agents to become AI expert trainers, leveraging their product and customer knowledge – so that agents are empowered to join the era of AI. It’s not about removing humans from the equation, it’s about humans training AI to be better at the repetitive and time-consuming tasks which can be automated. Ultimately this will free good people to do what they do best – adding value to more complex working tasks.
To learn more about Human-in-the-Loop technology watch Talkdesk’s recent webinar featuring Sheila McGee Smith, an expert from McGee-Smith Analytics, and Talkdesk’s Global Head of AI, Ben Rigby. Watch the webinar here: