The Self Driving Contact Center

A revolution is on, folks.

Data scientists and bots are about to transform the contact center as we know it. Large pools of relatively low skilled agents will become a thing of the past. Supervisors and managers will require new skill-sets. Repetitive tasks will be replaced by more cognitive self-service experiences, and bots will handle much of the rest. Buckle up, because here comes the self-driving contact center.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s crazy talk Jason.” Let me explain.


You say you want a revolution

According to Nicholas Davis, World Economic Forum’s head of society and innovation, “Technologies are emerging and affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era that builds and extends the impact of digitization in new and unanticipated ways… (It) can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines… (It) represents entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies.”

Bots invade

According to Steven Hill in The business of bots and the realities of enterprise automation, “Automating business processes with bots is expected to become a large opportunity for almost every enterprise. Overall, analysts expect the impact to reach more than $9 trillion and affect 230 million knowledge workers.” Bots are becoming more cognitive in nature, learning from experience and a growing knowledge base via artificial intelligence and evidence-based learning. “Bots – whether for automating processes or self-learning to solve problems faster than human workers – will undoubtedly change the landscape of and need for physical labor. Many individuals will not be able to adequately adapt to the emerging skill set needs, requiring preparation and re-skilling for both employees and employers,” Hill said.

Geeks rule

The UC Berkeley School of Information also shows skillsets changing and describes data science as a new field emerging “at the intersection of the fields of social science and statistics, information and computer science, and design.” A discipline that will become increasingly relevant and important to all organizations and roles. “A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute concludes, ‘a shortage of the analytical and managerial talent necessary to make the most of Big Data is a significant and pressing challenge (for the U.S.).’ The report estimates that there will be four to five million jobs in the U.S. requiring data analysis skills by 2018, and that large numbers of positions will only be filled through training or retraining. The authors also project a need for 1.5 million more managers and analysts with deep analytical and technical skills ‘who can ask the right questions and consume the results of analysis of big data effectively.’”

Customers win

Most customers today feel serving themselves via the Web or mobile apps is the faster, easier way to go. And when they do reach out for assistance, customers just want their problems resolved quickly. Forrester data shows over half of U.S. online adults will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, and 73 percent say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.1

What it means for the contact center

The revolution underway will impact all businesses and contact centers. Data science is at the heart of it. Bots are for real and will automate many tasks currently performed by low-skilled agents. Contact center supervisors and managers will bring or acquire a new, data-centric skillset. Customer needs are driving this change as they want their problems solved fast and, preferably without ever having to speak to a human.

Discomfort and desire

Feel uncomfortable? You should, and you’re not alone! Davis explains, “The complexity of these technologies and their emergent nature makes many aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution feel unfamiliar and, to many, threatening. We should therefore remember that all industrial revolutions are ultimately driven by the individual and collective choices of people. And it is not just the choices of the researchers, inventors and designers developing the underlying technologies that matter, but even more importantly those of investors, consumers, regulators and citizens who adopt and employ these technologies in daily life… At the heart of discussions around emerging technologies there is a critical and central question: what do we want these technologies to deliver for us?”

Ideas into action

So, what do your customers want data science and bots to bring in this new era? How about you? How will you reinvent the customer experience to ensure your contact center and company survive the revolution? Here are five things you can do to start answering these questions.

  1. Be curious. Ask data-centric questions and challenge yourself to make data-driven decisions. If the data isn’t there, find a way to get it.
  2. Consult a data scientist to help you understand how all this craziness applies to your contact center – today and in the future.
  3. Develop a vision that assumes a total re-start of the customer experience.
  4. Put a plan together to begin executing your vision.
  5. Start experimenting and don’t be afraid to fail–often. You’ll learn a lot along the way!

This incredibly fascinating and important new era is ushering in self-driving cars. Who will be the first to deliver the self-driving contact center? Will it be you?

To learn about other tech trends redefining the customer experience, check out our new eBook, Five Tech Trends Redefining the Customer Experience.

Lead – Challenge – Aspire – Execute



1Forrester, “Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service,” 2016

Jason Alley

Jason Alley

Jason Alley is a senior solutions marketing manager for Interactive Intelligence. Since his employment in 2010, Jason has helped Interactive Intelligence develop market requirements and go-to-market strategies for contact center, customer experience, and cloud solutions. Prior to Interactive, he spent ten years consulting with large enterprise contact centers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications, and a company he later founded, SmartContact Consulting. Jason spent the first seven years of his career in sales, marketing, and product management roles working for Aspect, Hipbone, Nortel, and others. Jason received his bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA.

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