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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 - Double Standards

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

Published: Friday, November 17, 2023

Printer Friendly Version Printer friendly version

2024 Buyers Guide Artificial Intelligence

Call Adapt

Soundboard Software
Call Adapt is a cloud-based digital soundboard application designed for contact centers. It works with any type of call and integrates with your existing dialer system. Powered by smart audio technology, Call Adapt gives your agents the ability to converse with customers in real time using programmed keyboard shortcuts. The result is perfect pitch delivery and less time spent on repetitive tasks.


Daisee builds technology that empowers people to solve problems by making interactions simple and smart so they can have a more significant impact, be more productive and be better at what they do. We believe incremental improvements carry huge potency and provide exponentially greater change for the better.

Genesys customers can now automate risk and quality management using Daisee’s speech and sentiment analytics and remediation workflow software. Daisee helps improve customer experience, ensure regulatory compliance, identify missed commercial opportunities & training requirements as well as provide valuable insights back to the business directly from the frontline – the true voice-of-...
(read more)

eGain Corporation

eGain Knowledge+AI
eGains omnichannel customer engagement solutions power digital-first experiences for leading brands. Infused with AI, machine learning, knowledge and analytics, our award-winning platform helps clients automate and optimize customer journeys via virtual assistance, messaging, social, mobile, web, and contact centers.


Automate up to 70% of messaging conversations on your website, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp and more. LivePerson has a complete solution to create, manage, and optimize bots for businesses of all sizes.

MFE International

Oracle Digital Assistant
The next generation state-of-the-art text and voice AI Chatbot . No coding required.
Reduce call volumes by 30-60%. Reduce waiting times


VADS Smart Chat Assistance
VADS Smart Chat Assistant is a computer program that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods.

VADS Smart Chat Assistant is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that simulates interactive human conversation using key pre-calculated user phrases and auditory, visual, and text-based signals.

Benefits :
- Reducing operational workload
- Increase customer engagement and customer experience
- Save on operating costs
- Provide insight into the customer


Analysis that empowers your business
Get actionable insights from all your customer interactions

Teneo AI

OpenQuestion revolutionizes customer experience and operational efficiency by automating first response when customers call your contact center. Designed for platform independence, connect to existing technology infrastructure no matter how your call center tech stack is designed. Utilizing advanced AI techniques, a patented Teneo Linguistic Modeling Language (TLML), and integrated conversational context to evaluate and understand what customers need, evaluate sentences, recognize word patterns, and clearly identify caller needs.

This functionality interprets caller intent and swiftly routes customer calls to the most suitable agent, providing details of the request before the agent picks up. Additionally, automation can be added to handle customer queries without human intervention.


virtualQ’s AI-based, enterprise solutions
virtualQ GmbH designs and develops enterprise software that enables companies to control incoming calls to its service centers 24/7 without waiting times. We offer an intuitive virtual assistant platform that reduces waiting times on the phone, provides information to callers, answers recurring customer inquiries, collect customer satisfaction surveys, and display a data dashboard to track performance. We employ artificial intelligence to provide intelligent call-backs, appointments, FAQ bots, voice IVR, virtual assistants, high call volume management, and more! All of our products and services are quick add-on solutions for companies who want to take advantage of AI.



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