A Friendly Audience:
Agent Assist & the Importance of Contact Center Agents in AI Implementation
By Paul Smith (CEO) & Kolby Harvey, PhD (Chief of Conversation)
In a recent article published on Forrester, “Stop Trying to Replace Your Agents With Chatbots—No, Seriously!” Ian Jacobs implores customer service organizations to move away from unrealistic dreams of lowering operating costs by replacing live agents with chatbots. Not only is this practice ethically suspect, it’s also impractical: as we’ve said before, AI is not yet capable of responding to the varied needs of today’s customers, and the point at which AI might achieve this level of reasoning/intelligence remains far off in the future. Organizations looking to implement AI systems should instead, according to Jacobs, look at chatbots in terms of “agent augmentation.” He goes on to outline four approaches to augmentation, which range from using bots as agent-facing tools that help employees rather than customers, to integrated workflows where humans and bots work together, each completing tasks best suited to their abilities.
At InfinitAI, we’ve developed a product, Agent Assist, that utilizes both approaches. Agent Assist, at its core, is a query tool, one that uses a conversational (text or voice) interface to retrieve information from a variety of sources—databases, shared drives, the web—for agent use. Our product has a wide range of applications for organizations, including the retrieval of data concerning CRM, scheduling, brand assets, holiday schedules by agent, scripts, and FAQs, just to name a few.
We built Agent Assist from the ground up with agents in mind. It’s an agent-facing system designed to make their work faster, easier, and less monotonous. Think about it: rather than navigating multiple internal systems to access customer information, share FAQs with customers, or double-check company policy, an agent could type (or speak) a few words into the Agent Assist interface, and voilà, the requested data appears in seconds.
Designed to be flexible in application, Agent Assist can also be used in the onboarding process for new employees, guiding inexperienced agents through complicated trainings, helping them navigate complex internal systems until they find their footing.
The benefits of Agent Assist extend beyond improved productivity too. It’s a great way to enact a kind of “soft launch” with incorporating AI into your organization. Not only does it allow you to test a new system in a controlled environment without affecting customer experiences, having your agents (i.e. the people who will be using the system) offer feedback right out of the gate means the system begins improving the minute you start using it. When the times comes to implement a customer-facing system, it will reap the benefits of extensive use and testing by your employees.
As you make plans to incorporate AI as a self-service option for your customers, look to your agents as starting point. Take advantage of this friendly audience, one whose priorities align with yours, as you make the journey toward an outward-facing AI system. Let your agents help you identify problems, find the system bottlenecks, and clarify responses. This will demonstrate the value of AI to your agents as your organization moves to a more integrated support infrastructure.
As conversation becomes the new user interface, agents—the masters of conversation—are a valuable resource in providing customers the most convenient and satisfying online experience with your brand.
Founder & CEO
Paul has 35+ years in executive leadership, sales management, and business management. He is an entrepreneur with a passion for inclusivity, giving back (InfinitAI gives 1% of profits to charity), and for improving the world with technology. His last 10 years in artificial intelligence and bots has fueled his desire to improve the way bots work with humans for the betterment of business and customer satisfaction.
Kolby Harvey, PhD
Chief of Conversational
Kolby is a writer, designer, and artist living in Washington state. In 2018, he earned the University of Colorado’s first creative doctorate in Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance.