It's Time to Maximize Customer Contacts Instead of Deflecting Them

Customer experience is the critical nexus between businesses and their customers, but the mantra of contact centers has long been to deflect live interactions. The logic was simple: Every customer call represents a cost. Businesses dislike costs, so they fended off customer interactions with automation.

But these short-term cuts have led to long-term issues. Organizations that focus on deflection and automation quickly lose touch with their customers and open up opportunities for more customer-centric competitors to take their place.

But, with the use of artificial intelligence and large language models, the return on investment equation is changing. For the first time, AI is helping unlock value from customer conversations that far exceeds its cost.

Large language models (LLMs) are revolutionizing the way we think about customer conversations. Rather than viewing each call as a potential drain on resources, LLMs are unveiling the hidden treasures within these interactions.

It's a plot twist for the ages. Contact centers are now finding that there's so much to gain from encouraging more conversations and even extending them.

But exactly what kinds of information do LLMs unearth in customer interactions? How do businesses actually benefit? Here are a few examples:

  • Product and supply chain insights. Customer conversations are goldmines of data about product performance, potential defects, and supply chain issues that can cost organizations millions. The sooner these are detected and fixed, the less they cost.
  • Capturing customer intentions. Valuable cues, like subtle interest in a new product or signs of potential churn, can elude human agents and analysts. LLMs can recognize these moments during conversations or later analysis, enabling swift action to foster growth or retention.
  • Demographic/psychographic knowledge for customer segmentation. Nuances in conversations can reveal a wealth of information, like which customers are homeowners or renters, single or married, or traversing life changes. This enables fine-tuning marketing strategies and making advertising spend far more efficient.
  • Market and competitive intelligence. Customer interactions can also indicate how products stack up against competitors, help update pricing and improve packaging, and reveal confusion or roadblocks in sales or checkout processes.
  • Enhanced Agent Training. By deeply analyzing conversations, LLMs can identify successful sales or support strategies, common pitfalls, and areas for improvement. This intelligence can be used to refine agent training, leading to higher conversion rates and improved customer satisfaction scores.

LLMs elevate the use of customer conversations to benefit the business. They also make customers feel understood and valued. And then, surprise, their satisfaction and brand loyalty increase. With LLMs accurately analyzing the entire ocean of customer interactions, organizations can set new standards for CX.

Transforming customer calls from liabilities to assets is a paradigm shift that depends on more than technology. It requires CX leaders to immediately harness AI for value-seeking engagement. The opportunity to improve marketing and sales, operations, and products today outweighs the resource cost of extending touchpoints.

How will this impact contact centers going forward? By leveraging LLMs to learn from every customer interaction, contact centers become strategic value producers. They will provide better guidance to agents, CX leaders, and sales.

It's time for businesses to tune in, listen, and connect like never before. The conversation revolution is here. The new mantra is to maximize the value of customer contacts instead of deflecting them.

Alex Kvamme is co-founder and CEO of EchoAI, (formerly Pathlight), a conversational intelligence company. Before Pathlight, he co-founded SeatMe, a web-based reservation platform provider that was acquired by Yelp in 2013.