ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Are You Harnessing AI in Your Customer Access Strategy?

When was the last time you moved into a new apartment or house that didn’t have any electrical wiring? As in, no wire, no outlets, nothing? When was the last time you worked in a contact center that didn’t have a CRM or case management? The answer to both is never. Certain technologies are foundational in customer service in the literal sense. They are critical infrastructures that lay the foundation required to deliver service. AI is now one.

Here’s why and what to do about it.

Critical Contact Center Infrastructure

Until recently, the pillars of the contact center were CRM, Case Management, Workforce Management and CCaaS. For clarification, with CCaaS I’m including public and private cloud as well as on-premises solutions. They’re all typically the same software anyway with the difference being hosting location and pricing model.

In short, it’s simply impossible to run a contact center without these.

AI Is No Longer a Nice-to-Have

These days, a customer’s first touchpoint with service will be AI whether in the form of a virtual agent or Conversational IVR. And even when they’re speaking to your human agents, AI will be listening in and driving the conversation in the background via agent assistance technology.

AI in customer service can handle a wide range of use cases including:

  • Conversational IVR
  • Self-service/virtual assistance
  • Intelligent routing
  • Agent assistance
  • Ticket/case routing
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Automated wrap-up (ACW)
  • Call scoring
  • Voice analytics

But besides that, AI is being baked into all the solutions you already use. It’s simply unavoidable. So, would you rather be a passenger or hop in the driver’s seat?

How Do I Buy When Things Change Daily?

We’ve gone from ChatGPT in November 2022 to more new companies, models, and development than ever before in history. We have WatsonX by IBM, OpenAI’s GPT 3, 3.5, and 4 along with Anthropic’s Claude, Google BARD, Stability AI, xAI, META’s Llama and more by the time you read this.

You feel the pressure to change. You see the necessity. But how can you decide with so much uncertainty? There’s no perfect answer. The only way to adapt and thrive throughout change is flexibility, not lock-in, so look for a platform or solution that is:

  • Technology and vendor agnostic, allowing you to mix and match providers and services on a granular level.
  • Built for scale, since your business will grow, and customer needs will change. AI’s capabilities will grow too, and you’ll use it for more than you expect.
  • Extensible, so you can easily customize it, build your own extensions and modules, work with it via command line, open API and more.
  • Natively built to use multiple types and models of AI, meaning the platform is designed to optionally use LLMs for example throughout its entire functionality, and to use different ones (e.g., not Just GPT-4).

The fact is you won’t be using one type of AI in the future, just as you have different software tools suited to different tasks. Every category and model of AI will have strengths and weaknesses such as conversational AI and generative AI. You’ll need the ability to use different ones individually or in combination as best suits each use-case.

Does Your Customer Access Strategy Reflect Today or the Past?

Companies’ customer access strategy (CAS) has largely been driven and limited by technology in the past. A multitude of point solutions brought short-term gains at the cost of long-term problems, poor interoperability, data loss, and inflexibility.

Yet, communication technology has evolved so rapidly that consumers have typically been several steps ahead of organizations and vendors. This has frequently led to limited, out-of-date options for customers and a mix of point solutions that closely resembles the ball of cables below your desk. The result is bad for everyone.

Your CAS should be derived from your organizational goals and nothing else. Yet, technology plays the largest role in determining what your options to meet these goals are.