One of the hottest topics in tech in 2020 is automation — particularly in the relationship between AI and human workers as roles and responsibilities shift. One place this is playing out is in the contact center. We recently commissioned a study with ContactBabel, a research firm focused on the evolution of the contact center and customer service industry. Some of the most interesting findings came via two surveys. The first was designed to understand the call center agents’ perceptions about AI. The second was aimed at U.S. consumers to understand their experiences with today’s customer support.

[The US Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide 2019-20: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning — DOWNLOAD IT HERE]

Here are five takeaways that customer service leaders need to know: 

Human agents believe AI will help them 

When asked whether AI would be used to support human agents, 83% agreed or strongly agreed. In particular, large (200+ agents) and medium-sized call centers (51–200 agents) were very likely to agree. 

Fast resolution is what customers want most

Most agents acknowledged that customers care most about how quickly their issues are resolved — regardless of whether it’s via a human agent or AI. Specifically, 88% of agents agreed that customers just want their issues resolved as soon as possible. 

Few agents think customers prefer human interactions

Historically, many agents believed that customers always preferred to speak to live (human) agents. But that’s changing rapidly. Now only 1-in-8 agents believe customers only want human support. Not surprisingly, the survey found that younger generations are more open than older generations to AI-led conversations.

Without automation, response rates are slowing

Contact centers’ digital channels are being overwhelmed by support inquiries — causing a backlog of issues that (human) call center agents simply can’t respond to quickly enough. Nearly three-quarters (70%) of emails to customer support took more than an hour to get a response (including 20% that took more than a day). And 69% of consumers said they had recent webchats exceeding 3 minutes in length, an increase from 54% in 2018.

AI help is on the way 

More than half of large contact centers (200+ agents) are now using AI in some capacity, and that number is expected to increase to 76% within the next year. 

Getting started with an intelligent automation solution

To learn more about the perception of automation in the contact center, download the full report here. If you’re interested in learning more about Directly’s intelligent automation platform — and how virtual agents might fit into your company’s customer service — contact us to set up a demo