Technology and Humans Critical to Contact Center Success, Verint Engage Speakers Insist

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Technology will continue to augment humans in the contact center, not replace them, speakers on day 2 of Verint's Engage users conference agreed Wednesday.

There are shifting expectations among consumers and employees about the use of technology in the contact center. "While some people think it is to eliminate technology, that's not the goal," said Tim Hinds of Mastercard.

Based on a Verint survey of 34,000 people from around the globe, 77 percent of consumers see technology as a major factor in selecting a service provider, while two-thirds are loyal to brands that make it easy to engage. Furthermore, six in 10 expect the companies they patronize to make it easy to engage.

Most requests are for self-service—requests that can be easily automated. But complaints, urgent requests, and some other interactions still need human interaction; while automation takes simple transactions out, employees are needed to handle what's left, speakers asserted.

Yet for those humans to provide the level of service customers expect, they need technology, and increasingly, they are getting comfortable with technology that helps them perform better, the survey found.

Fifty-five percent of employees ask for better technology at work, while 78 percent expect excellent technology in the workplace, said Ryan Hollenbeck, Verint's senior vice president of global marketing.

Some companies are using Verint solutions to attempt to connect customers with the same agents for subsequent communications, Hollenbeck added. "Technology is needed in the workplace, but humans are needed for customer loyalty."

Hollenbeck recommended that companies not simply adopt contact center technology, but involve employees and customers while developing solutions to increase their acceptance of automation as it is added.

Kristyn Emenecker, Verint's senior vice president of product strategy, added that technology opens the door to creating connections. Customers and employees alike feel more valued if automation can speed up the time it takes to get an issue resolved. And if technology can't handle an issue, the contact center employee knows the incoming call is important, and can react accordingly, she said.

"Tech and [artificial intelligence] are changing our perspective," Emenecker said. "Customers are experiencing a changed world. You have to be ready to step up."

Apple's voice assistant Siri and similar technology are part of people's everyday lives today, so they expect companies to have similar capabilities, she added.

Verint works closely with its customers to develop its contact center technologies, according to Emenecker. "We've had more than 100 customers work with us in our pre-release usability testing. We've also had customers provide more than 1,500 ideas through our customer idea portal in the last six months. The feedback they give us is incredibly important. Involve customers and employees early; that's the optimal way to have the voice of customers and employees."

The Verint Unified VoC solution, which will be available for general availability in August, was developed in part with the help of employee and customer feedback, according to Rick Blair, Verint's vice president of voice of the customer product strategy.

While the unified Voc solution was the newest technology that Verint announced at the conference, the company has some aggressive plans to improve its suite of VoC solutions in 2020, Blair said.

The company is looking at these major areas for advancements:

  • New tools to obtain higher VoC response rates. Consumers are suffering from survey fatigue, Blair said. While surveys will still be important, Verint expects to expand analysis of interactions and the use of other tools to secure wider and deeper VoC feedback.
  • Continued expansion of data connectors. While Verint already has data connectors for popular programs such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and others, customers continue to seek additional data connectors, according to Blair.
  • Expanded AI anomaly detection. This will help users better identify when a high or low indicator for various metrics is truly anomalous or is an indicator of a change (i.e., higher than normal hold times or higher than normal customer complaints) that needs to be addressed.
  • Better closed-loop results, helping to ensure that analysis of contact center issues leads to actions to resolve those issues.