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Using bots and AI? Make sure you’re prepared before implementation


Digital transformation, and the consequent use of bots and artificial intelligence (AI), is a proverbial whole new world in the contact centre industry and for many is seen as a means of ensuring positive customer experiences. However, as Merchants Director of Service Desk Practice, Sandra Galer points out, you can’t simply implement a digital or bot/AI solution without clearly defining the process this solution has to follow and the information it has to provide.


"you can’t simply implement a digital or bot/AI solution without clearly defining the process this solution has to follow and the information it has to provide."



“We have to remember that bots and AI are based on logic, it’s used in everything from building cars to controlling traffic, and people often have the idea that if they implement this tech it will reduce their costs. 

“What they miss though is that the tech (the bot or AI) is only as good as the process you give it to follow, for example when building a car, you can’t start with the cigarette lighter, you need to start with what you expect the car to be able to do.

“In the same vein, the first step toward ensuring your agents can provide a positive customer experience is to map the process that the agent, and then subsequently the tech, would need to follow. From here, the solution needs to concentrate on where the tech can provide the answers directly, as opposed to where the bot/AI can assist the agent,” adds Galer.


 "the tech (the bot or AI) is only as good as the process you give it to follow"


In the contact centre world, there are three types of bots/AI that can be used to interact with customers: 

  1. A chatbot – this tech does exactly as programmed and can be used for simple, repetitive volume inquiries such as providing PUK numbers, upgrades, account balances etc.
  2. The second bot performs more back office operations eg, completing forms online, verifying bank account details. These bots are often used by the agents while the customer is still “on the call”, and through various improvements in efficiencies, they improve processes, decrease costs and speed up the overall process.

“The third type is the one that I feel will play an integral role in the contact centre going forward as it provides the agent with the liberty to truly engage with the client. This tech, which I like to refer to as an Artificial Buddy assists the agents by providing technical support – the answers to the actual question - and leaves the agent to concentrate on the nuances of the conversation providing empathy, compassion and the human touch,” explains Galer.


“The third type is the one that I feel will play an integral role in the contact centre going forward as it provides the agent with the liberty to truly engage with the client..."


“Merchants is an award winning, leading BPO and contact centre service provider, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional customer experiences. In this field we know fully well that products, services and the needs of the customers are always changing, and we need to keep up with this change – however no single person, or even group of people can remember all the information all the time. 


“Merchants is an award winning, leading BPO and contact centre service provider, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional customer experiences."


“This is why we turn to a bot – a computer programme based on the logic provided by subject matter experts, that is easily updated and customisable. For example, if we implement a bot in our telco contact centres, our agents will have all the information on hand, from tariffs to packages, upgrade dates and even frequently changing specials and will be able to take the customer on positive customer journey, give the correct answers, in readily understood terms, and understand exactly what the customer’s needs are – in essence, the agent is now a professional communicator.

“In a sales context, the bot’s detailed information can be used to augment the agent’s sales skills, providing product benefits the agent may not have thought of or even known at the time, to add even more compelling reasons for the customer to purchase that service or product,” says Galer. 

Galer adds that positive experiences that result from bot-assisted contacts are also extremely good morale boosters for the agents who now have less to worry about and can therefore perform better.


“In a sales context, the bot’s detailed information can be used to augment the agent’s sales skills, providing product benefits the agent may not have thought of or even known at the time, to add even more compelling reasons for the customer to purchase that service or product,” 


“There may be concerns that bot and AI implementation will provide less opportunities for people, however, if you look at it really, the implementation of these solutions means that anyone can be an expert in any field, provided the information and processes are up to date. This translates into people being employed for their people skills, not their technical knowledge, and across a myriad of verticals at any given time.

“In fact, through the successful implementation bots and AI, the future contact centre agent can immediately become a “super-agent” answering calls on sales support, service, upsell and retention - skills that typically take years to acquire - from day one as all the information is given to them and they can focus on communicating to the customer,” ends Galer, “AI and bots usher in a whole new way of working for us, where technology assists our agents to consistently produce positive customer experiences, time after time, after time.”


"...through the successful implementation bots and AI, the future contact centre agent can immediately become a “super-agent” answering calls on sales support, service, upsell and retention - skills that typically take years to acquire"


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Merchants is a recognised global leader in providing customer management and related business process outsourcing solutions that deliver positive business results. Providing flexible access to technology, facilities and people, we enable companies to keep pace with – and exceed – customer expectations.
Merchants is a Dimension Data company – the world’s leading contact centre systems integration business and part of the NTT group​

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