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Earlier this year, the Forrester report, Future-Proof Your Customer Service: Build An AI-Infused Cognitive Contact Center, cited Mattersight for how we help brands bring contact centers into the twenty-first century.

While the report highlights many interesting trends, the one clear takeaway is that contact center agents’ jobs are becoming harder. Today, interaction complexity, more communication options, inadequate training, high burnout rates, and understaffed teams are becoming more prevalent.

Many brands may think that offloading customers entirely to artificial intelligence (AI) will solve this problem. Those who rely entirely on this approach will find a new host of challenges. Instead, future brands will thrive with a middle ground where AI is used to supplement the efforts of contact center teams.

Agent Training Is More Important Than Ever

Because of the multi-channel, multi-platform access, customers are able to solve easier challenges through automated systems like chatbots. Agents are often left with more complex customer interactions, “fundamentally changing the customer service landscape.”

At the same time, channel diversity and channel-hopping have continued to increase. In customer service, 95 percent of U.S. consumers will use at least three channels and/or devices to engage with an agent. Over 62 percent say they are willing to switch devices to complete their task if it is not available on the first channel. And by the time a customer reaches an agent, their expectations are higher.

While implementing technology is important, training agents to handle complex interactions is equally valuable. Proper training can lead to lower call times and reduce strain on agents, addressing the widespread issue of agent burnout. Training agents beyond product knowledge will lead to optimal customer interactions and new employment opportunities.

Striking the Balance Between Technology & the Human Touch

Human-centered contact centers are not going anywhere. According to Forrester, 60 percent of contact center managers say that their contact center footprint will grow or stay the same in 2018. The question today is not if AI will fit in, but how to balance technology with human agents.

This is an area where Mattersight excels. Our Predictive Behavioral Routing (PBR) product matches agents to customers they are most likely to click with. With PBR, contact centers can enjoy higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores while ensuring that their agents are handling interactions best suited for them.

At the same time, the evolution of multifaceted chatbots will persist across customer- and employee-facing interactions. Chatbots will take on new roles as they engage customers, stay connected, pass on context, and drive agents’ next best actions. By introducing automated technologies, enterprises can streamline the contact center experience. Properly trained agents will handle the more complex interactions where the human element is more important than technology.

Looking ahead

Forrester expects that in 10 years a true cognitive contact center will be established. Agents will be able to blend data, use machine learning, and operate conversational interfaces to improve contact centers.

This blend is increasingly important because many contact centers today play a reactive role. They service incoming customer needs and leave little time to focus on improving the overall customer experience. This is an area expected to see increased focus in both the short- and long-term.

It’s a very exciting time for contact centers across the world. As they continue to evolve and grow, Mattersight is excited to keep finding new ways to help leading companies around the world delight their customers.

The complimentary Forrester report will still be available for the next few weeks. Download your copy of the report here.