Four Predictions for the Contact Center of the Future

Recent global events and a volatile economic environment have accelerated the need for companies to digitally transform to increase efficiency, enhance security, and drive profitability. Customer service is one particular mission-critical area that needs to transform quickly to respond to market challenges and customer demands. Traditional call centers are expensive and resource-heavy, but the emergence of generative artificial intelligence and advancements in conversational AI have provided them more tools to harness to achieve this transformation.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of customer service and support organizations will be applying generative AI in some form to improve agent productivity and customer experience. While some companies are early adopters of AI in the contact center, there are many more opportunities for them to streamline their businesses with AI to drive efficiencies, reduce costs, and deliver better customer experiences. According to Deloitte's third-quarter CFO Signals report, 42 percent of companies are currently experimenting with genAI, with 15 percent actively incorporating it into their business strategies.

As we look ahead, I anticipate we will see the following four shifts in the industry:

1. The role of the contact center agent will evolve.

In recent years there has been a great debate over the impact and efficiency of human agents vs. AI bots in the call center. While the outlook on this is evolving, in an ideal world, agents and bots will help improve one another. We can expect to see a world where the refinements of the next generation of bots might be driven by agents, i.e., training bots could become a vital part of many agents' work. Call center agents will compete against one another to see whose bot performs best, leading to a whole new avenue of gamification, evaluation, and compensation for agents.

Agents, as well as contact center and business managers, will supervise generative AI-driven applications and bots to improve the models that the conversational AI uses, helping them become more effective at covering the last mile of service to the customer. GenAI can reduce application development time and cost and potentially even replace expensive developer resources. All of this will improve conversational AI bots, driving greater levels of self-service.

2. Conversational AI will accelerate innovation in quick-service restaurants.

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are now seeing the value of conversational AI to voice-enable their drive-thrus to automate order processing and take customer payments. Conversational AI solutions are increasing speed, productivity, and efficiency of operations and could reduce the number of employees required per shift. By using AI to suggest relevant upsell offers to customers during the ordering process, restaurants can increase order values and build brand loyalty.

As innovative fast-food chains are successfully implementing these solutions and providing great customer experiences and high productivity improvements, adoption will accelerate as more chains play catch up. The companies that can create operational efficiencies and leverage customer data to create more personalized experiences will win. Providing better brand experiences is no longer a nice-to-have, it is becoming a consumer mandate.

3. Contact centers will be truly AI-driven.

As we've seen in the past year, AI is getting smarter, faster, and more accurate. But contact center queue abandonment rates continue to grow, and examples of bad customer service automation are still creating headaches for customers and call center staff.

Large language models (LLMs) will allow AI-powered interactions to start taking over the contact center, not only to automate but to increase customer satisfaction. LLMs have demonstrated their value in various aspects of dialogue, including exceptional natural language generation capabilities and the ability to comprehend complex text and follow instructions. With LLMs leading the charge, we can reclaim the lost human touch in automated interactions, making them more enjoyable, efficient, and satisfying for all.

In the coming years all customer service transactions in the call center will be automated and only assisted by humans in exceptional circumstances.

4. New methods of security will be introduced to fight fraud, data breaches, deepfakes, and other cybersecurity-related threats.

According to Gartner>, by 2025, the consumerization of AI-enabled fraud will fundamentally change the enterprise attack surface, driving more outsourcing of enterprise trust and focus on security education and awareness. Today, fraudulent actors possess an unsettling capacity to mimic individuals with remarkable precision. Creating a deepfake can be done through just a short recording of an individual's voice, with the resulting deepfake displaying a concerning ability to circumvent conventional voice biometric safeguards.

To combat these evolving security threats, we will see more robust text-to-speech (TTS) detection algorithms deployed to dissect and analyze the new complexities of such artificially generated vocalizations.

We will continue to see analysis of human and synthetic voices in everyday interactions, and through these iterative assessments, these systems can progressively develop heightened confidence and unparalleled accuracy in identifying deepfake vocalizations. We will see more integrations of these solutions throughout the call center as voice remains a preferred medium for most callers. Each caller's vocal expression will be subjected to thorough scrutiny to ascertain its legitimacy.

I have been in the industry and passionate about the power and potential of the human-computer connection for more than 20 years. The changes AI brought in 2023 are further illustration of that potential, particularly in transforming the customer experience in contact centers. Further advancements in LLMs,TTS, and other emerging technologies will restore consumer confidence in automated customer service, create efficiencies, enhance security for companies to drive growth and profitability.

Dimitris Vassos is co-founder and CEO of Omilia.