Right now, the contact center market is growing at an exponential rate. Technology advances coupled with the advent of the virtual call center are leaving behind anyone who doesn’t have at least a remote omnichannel software. But there’s an even bigger hurdle: contact center AI. Recently, Google has been making incursions into the contact center space. What at first were steps have now turned into strides, and the Google Cloud Contact Center AI is here to stay, plus they’ve partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry. Other solution-providers are adopting AI as well. More and more companies are employing these solutions to replace increasingly complex agent interactions. So, it’s fair to ask: is contact center AI taking over? Is it really necessary that you use an AI solution? And how effective will it be? Let’s look at the facts one by one. Contact Center AI Market Will Expand Significantly by 2025 A recent report highlights just how big the growth of the global contact center AI market will be. With companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Amazon investing in the space, and 78% of contact centers looking to adopt AI solutions, it might seem like the direction is clear. The bottom line is there’s a high demand for cloud-based contact center AI solutions. This trend comes coupled with the ever-increasing value of consumer data and the staggering growth of social media engagement among customers during the pandemic. The Shift to Useful AI According to the report on The Daily Chronicle, there are some exciting advancements in technology that are said to fuel the growth of AI within the contact center space. These are: \tThe integration of gesture recognition with AI-based chatbots \tA rising trend of providing services on digital platforms These technological strides might enable AI solutions to come closer to human levels of interactions. They won’t reach the same levels, but they’ll get better at it progressively. The shift to useful AI is further emphasized by Google’s push to allow businesses to make their own AI voice. Google markets their AI as one that “understands, interacts, and talks.” They’ve adeptly identified one of the key issues with contact center AI and are addressing it directly: typical AI is just not intelligent enough. So, any company that wants to enter the AI space needs to follow and build on that to offer true AI solutions, not AI problems. Big Tech Using AI to Enter the Contact Center Market We’ve already mentioned Big Tech. Google’s just the latest actor to show its head in the contact center world – they must’ve realized it’s a very promising avenue, set to grow by up to $6 billion by 2024. There’s a concern current companies within the contact center space should have: what’s Google up to? It’s an ancient question that many have asked whenever Big Tech enters a new market. Right now, Google partnered its contact center AI initiative with many well-established industry names. And it’s being downright friendly in its relationship with these businesses. The question becomes: will any of these companies become part of Google? Should we be concerned that Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, or Amazon might be looking for acquisitions as well? It’s certainly a common business model. With so many Big Tech companies moving into the contact center space with innovative AI solutions, an easy conclusion is that they’re looking to expand into the CCaaS area. And whenever Big Tech expands into a sector, it ends up dominating that sector with a lot more ease based solely on brand affinity and power. But something tells me they won’t stop at CCaaS. Seeing as they’re big corporations that have their own gigantic contact center operations, expanding that side to service other companies would be a logical step. As such, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Amazon look primed to enter not just the CCaaS space, but also the BPO space. This is all speculation but it’s happened before when Big Tech entered the Financial market. And it’s scary seeing how COVID-19 negatively impacted most companies, while Big Tech came out of the Pandemic looking better than ever. Still a Way to Go before AI Becomes Preferred But that’s a long way off. Right now, confidence in contact center AI solutions is still not great. We know from personal experience that interacting with a customer support chatbot can be infuriating. We’ve talked about it before on our podcast series numerous times. Our conclusion’s always been that real, live agents will never really disappear from a contact center, but they will need to adapt. In the future of the contact center, the majority of customer support interactions will be for complex issues. Agents need to get better and better at servicing those particular customers. Voice Is Still King A recent survey however revealed that voice is still the preferential means of communication for American consumers. And it’s set to stay that way for the foreseeable future – at least, when it comes to service issues that bots simply can’t handle. That same report however highlighted the need for other communication channels. Simply put, you can’t expect to stick entirely to voice. That just won’t cut it. You need to give people the option of many, many channels to pick from. And before AI takes over (because, at some point, it will), businesses need to move closer to identifying and implementing some form of efficient AI systems. Summing Up - Live Agents Will Never Really Go Away But as we said – live agents will never really be gone. You’ll still need someone there on the phone day in, day out, to pick up. To chat with people and be reassuring. I don’t think any robot can be reassuring to the level that a human can. Unless it’s Data from Star Trek, and even then it’s still not the same. So to answer our initial question: is AI taking over? Maybe. But it’s doing so slowly, and it’s relying on technological advancements to become more useful. Until it can actually handle customer interactions without becoming a nuisance, it’s still far away. Right now, what you need to have is something that can prepare you for AI – an omnichannel solution. And I think we’ve got just the thing – OMNI+.