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Article : The Great AI Paradox for Contact Centre Agents

#contactcenterworld, @Calabrio

Artificial Intelligence is on the rise and yet, believe it or not, tomorrow’s contact centre will need more
not feweragents. Dave Hoekstra, Product Evangelist, at Calabrio explains why and shares their top tips to activate the agent of the future.

Research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that Conversational AI will reduce contact centre labour costs by $80 billion in 2026 and over the same period, one in 10 agent interactions (10%) will be automated, an increase from an estimated 1.6% of interactions today. Faced with this dramatic rise in AI-driven tech for customer service, you might expect the number of agents to decrease but therein lies an interesting paradox.

When Calabrio set out to explore the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) recently, the results were astounding. AI is going to impact customer service agents, but not in the way most people probably think. The response from 400 contact centre managers around the world is clear and reflects Calabrio’s own conversations with customers. While organizations are embracing automation and analytics to maximize their operations, AI won’t entirely replace agents. In fact, over two-thirds (70%) of respondents predict an increase in the number of agents over the next decade.

Changing Role of the Agent

The reason for this paradox is when technology removes a large portion of administrative tasks from humans, agents must adapt to embrace increasingly complex customer inquiries, becoming true brand guardians with the power to influence corporate perception, enhance loyalty and boost profits. As a result, agent skillsets are changing too. The majority (63%) of contact centre managers believe ‘critical thinking skills like problem-solving and troubleshooting’ and ‘adaptability and continuous learning’ (62%) are the most important proficiencies for agents to be successful in the future.

7 Ways to Bridge the Gap

However, contact centres have a long way to go to create their dream teams because many agents are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AI future. Nearly half of contact centre managers (45%) say agents currently do not have the right skillsets. Critical thinking and adaptability are most frequently identified as lacking and perhaps more worryingly, they are the first to fly out of the window when agents are stressed or disengaged. Here are a few quick-win ideas to bridge the gap:

  1. Put Employee Engagement Top of the Agenda

    When employees are disengaged, they are less productive and more likely to leave. The good news is contact centres from all parts of the world recognize the importance of agent wellbeing in meeting customer demands. The majority (80%) or more rank agent engagement scores as the top measurement metric of the future ahead of traditional customer-centric KPIs such as customer effort (81%) and average handle time (80%).

  2. Listen to Your Agents

    Contact centre managers around the world have different ways to improve agent engagement. For example, in the US and DACH regions, promoting and facilitating internal messaging between employees is a highly effective but relatively simple and cost-efficient way to improve agent engagement. In the UK contact centres rely on voice of the agent surveys and in the Nordics, hybrid scheduling is the most popular. Combine these methods with Voice of the Employee (VoE) analytics to identify agents who are struggling and need extra support.

  3. Agent-Empowering Tech for a Flourishing Frontline

    AI is particularly beneficial for supporting the WAH lifestyles and hybrid work schedules of agents today. Modern self-service tools such as self-service scheduling apps help improve engagement, performance, and satisfaction. Contact centre managers say the top three ways these tools can help agents are to request training, select breaks and lunches, and request time off or overtime.

  4. Comprehensive Training and Development

    Training and skills enhancement are primary strategies for attracting and retaining agents. This underscores the importance of utilizing AI to improve agents’ skills, rather than seeking to replace them. Greater emphasis on targeted, proactive training and coaching will ensure agents have all the skills they need for the future. Most managers felt their environment provided enough (71%) or somewhat enough (26%) opportunities for the appropriate level of training. While fewer than half of all managers were pursuing various types of agent training, including work on aptitude skills and emotional intelligence (38%), or determining the best timing for training (37%).

  5. Measure the Results

    There is no point in developing these wonderful new training programs if you step away thinking the job is done and dusted, a fact not lost on today’s managers. The report showed 33% of contact centres believe ‘measuring the effectiveness of training on productivity’ is an area that definitely needs improvement. Only then can contact centres highlight immediate areas for service improvement, align training with changing customer behaviours while identifying tangible opportunities for career advancement quickly and efficiently.

  6. Bring Calm to Chaos

    Giving agents the skills to stay calm is critical to success. Empower agents with practical coping mechanisms for dealing with frustrated customers. For example, knowing when to use the word ‘sorry’ sincerely (rather than to pause a difficult interaction) is a simple way to bring calm to chaos. Next, encourage team members to share their own coping strategies. Fostering a sense of belonging and ‘we’re all in it together’ will stop agents feeling overwhelmed.

  7. Future-Proof Recruitment

    As organizations grapple with economic uncertainty and the continued cost-of-living crisis, it might come as no surprise that ‘increasing wages’ is one of the top strategies for attracting and retaining agents for future success. However, there are other ways to nurture your brightest talent. Follow the lead of our survey respondents and pay extra attention to ‘recognition or rewards’ (36%), ‘training and skills development’ (35%), and ‘scheduling flexibility’ (34%) to attract and retain employees today.

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what skills agents have because if they aren’t engaged, those skills quickly disappear.

#contactcenterworld, @Calabrio

About Ross Daniels:
Ross Daniels is Chief Marketing Officer at Calabrio.

About Calabrio:
Company LogoThe digital foundation of a customer-centric contact center, the Calabrio ONE suite helps enrich and understand human interactions, empowering your contact center as a brand guardian. We maximize agent performance, exceed customer expectations, and boost workforce efficiency using connected data, AI-fueled analytics, automated workforce management and personalized coaching. Only Calabrio ONE unites WFO, agent engagement and business intelligence solutions into a true-cloud, fully integrated suite that adapts to your business.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Select The Right Application

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Friday, November 17, 2023

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2023 Buyers Guide Recording

Premium Listing
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.


ASC Recording Insights and neo
ASC Recording Insights guarantees legally compliant recording and analysis of all communication channels in Microsoft Teams - including audio calls (internal and external calls), chat conversations and video meetings.

neo Recording, QM & Analytics address all enterprises with recording needs, especially contact centers. The content of communication becomes accessible and critical information and trends are revealed, providing real-time business intelligence for immediate management action.


Microsoft Teams Cloud Recording Service
Geomant offers a fully managed recording service for those organisations who need to address compliance or quality management while working on Teams. The Service utilises Verint’s market leading recording technology and is hosted by Geomant in Microsoft Azure. Our managed service approach is unique in that it allows organisations to benefit from advanced recording features, all while being free from any technical infrastructure or maintenance requirements that come with a traditional on-premises set up.

Lieber & Associates

Recording System Consulting
L&A provides vendor-independent consulting services to select, contract for, test, and implement contact center recording systems. The firm's consultants specialize in contact center I.T. and have several decades of experience each with all major and many smaller makers of phone and call recording systems.

MiaRec, Inc.

MiaRec Call Recording
MiaRec's compliant, secure, and reliable Call Recording software is the foundation of our Customer & Workforce Engagement Platform.. MiaRec Call Recording seamlessly integrates with MiaRec Agent Evaluation & Scoring, Live Monitoring, Voice Analytics, Screen Capture, and Advanced Reporting to provide a comprehensive solution you can trust.


Numonix's IXCloud is one of the first fully managed compliance recording solutions for Microsoft Teams. IXCloud securely records, stores and analyzes interactions in the cloud without physical or virtual servers. As a fully managed Azure-based, Software-as-a-Service cloud interaction recording solution, IXCloud takes interaction capture into the future. It enables instant and elastic scalability to support business growth and provides the necessary tools to enhance business performance while maintaining compliance. IXCloud redefines versatility with its OpenAPI framework that enables application development. Companies and third-party developers benefit from IXCloud native capture technology, whether it be integrating with internal systems or building a third-party application.

Nuxiba Technologies

Enterprise recording management for storage, retrieval, playback, and monitoring communications throughout your contact center.

Record screen activity and calls across agent workstations, measure and monitor quality levels across all campaigns and analyze recordings to capture first-hand customer data and requirements.

Easly access all recordings and critical information to provide improved customer experience, sales, and productivity!


Oreka TR
Oreka TR total recorder includes all of the call recording capabilities you will need, at about half the cost of competing for call recorder solutions, including screen recording, mobile phone recording, live monitoring, on-demand recording, multi-tenancy, multi-site recording, audit trail, call exporting, retention management, auto-tagging (for speech analytics and phrase spotting) and so much more.

PCS Software

Call recording solution fully integrate to all main pbx solutions.

Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

InterDialog UCCS
InterDialog UCCS enables organizations to adhere to all compliances with its inbuilt call recording software and also has an option for screen recording. With centralized repository of all voice logs, its easy to maintain & retrieve all voice files and have a central control in case of multiple branches set up.

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