Call centers across a wide range of industries have been experiencing a surge in call volume, with more than 55 billion agent-assisted calls handled each year in the U.S. alone. Call center solutions provider Genesys is no stranger to the challenges that come with a staggering volume of callers. The company’s software processes more than 25 billion calls each year for more than 10,000 customers, including PayPal, Quicken and Vodafone.
Call center providers have two options to keep up with the increase in interactions, according to Paul Lasserre, vice president of product management and artificial intelligence (AI) at Genesys.
“Either you continue to do the same thing you did before and multiply your workforce by three, or you find a smarter way,” he explained.
Genesys is helping businesses choose the smarter way – integrating their native AI with that of third parties, including Google Cloud. Genesys has integrated its call center platform with Google Contact Center AI (CCAI) and, in a recent interview with PYMNTS, Lasserre and Gnan Gowda, Genesys’ senior director of software product management and global security, discussed how this will help the company’s customers without compromising security.
How CCAI Makes for Smarter Call Centers
Most customer calls pose the same simple questions repeated over and over again: What time will my plumber arrive? How can I return my purchase? Why doesn’t my credit card work?
Many of these requests can be automated with AI, saving live agents’ time and energy for more complex issues. CCAI and similar systems consist of four major components – contact center interface, virtual agent, agent assist and knowledge base – that work together to assist both the caller and the agent, while simultaneously collecting data about the call for future analysis.
Say a customer wants to return a pair of shoes she purchased online but is unsure how, so she calls the retailer’s contact center. She first connects with the virtual agent, which can process her request, determine what she is asking for and determine whether it can solve the issue. Should the request be determined too complex for the AI, the virtual agent will connect the customer to a human agent.
While the caller is transferred, agent assist takes pertinent information collected by the virtual agent and places it into the live agent’s contact center interface alongside a complete transcript of the call. This allows the agent to assist the customer without having to ask redundant questions. Once the issue is resolved, the conversation is automatically uploaded to the knowledge base, enabling the call center operator to collect valuable data about its customers.
“The average [call center] generates over 30,000 hours of interactions every week,” Lasserre explained. “That’s information about your market, your product, your trends – all of which you can leverage for your targeting, marketing and feedback.”
Prior to AI and automation, the sheer volume of interactions was too overwhelming for human analysts to interpret.
“It was pretty much a black box before,” he said. “AI allows us to configure a way to open it, and really make sense of this treasure trove of data that you can find in contact centers.”
Securing the Knowledge Base
This vast trove of collected data is a tempting target for bad actors, unfortunately, with call centers often facing two distinct types of attacks. The first type comes from bad actors outside the call center who find cloud-based solutions like CCAI to be particularly vulnerable targets. Genesys decided the best way to prevent these attacks was to add ethical hackers to its cloud operations security team, providing valuable insights about attackers’ methods and how to counter them.
“We don’t just look at what’s happening in contact centers, but at cloud operations and cloud security in general,” Gowda explained. “Our security analysts keep tabs on what’s happening and bring that knowledge inside.”
The second major security threat to contact centers is caller fraud. Pindrop’s 2018 Voice Intelligence Report found that one out of every 638 calls was fraudulent in 2017, a 47 percent increase from the year prior.
Genesys counters this specific type of fraud with Pindrop’s fraud detection system, which analyzes the phoneprints and voiceprints of inbound callers and compares them to known fraudsters. The platform also provides alerts about suspected robotic dialing techniques to agents before transactions can occur.
Just as contact center providers seek new ways to counter attacks, bad actors are looking to one-up them and circumvent their efforts, something that is becoming a bigger challenge.
“With the increased volume [of call center interactions], security becomes a mess across the board,” Lasserre said. “It’s hard to predict the future and what new threats are going to surface.”
Genesys sees AI as a highly beneficial tool for call centers, and believes it will help them combat fraud. “AI is happening,” he said. “It’s the direction the industry is taking. It’s not the future anymore.”