Customer reaches out to customer service digitally and automation helps guide him to the correct place.

Contact Center Automation: From Nice-to-Have to Necessity

Since the dawn of the contact center, there has never been a larger impact than the one we face with COVID-19. Many contact centers unprepared for a dramatic increase in customer contacts have scrambled to develop work from home plans and ramped up the use of self-service and automation. In the midst of the transition, many customers have had to suffer with excessive hold times and dropped calls. 

Now more than ever we are seeing a wave of artificial intelligence sweeping through the contact center suite to offset call volume spikes and create self-service options for customers that haven’t existed prior. What was once a buzzword is now reality. This global shift has been ushered in through the development of two key trends:

  1. Consumers don’t care where they get answers… they just want answers. Organizations that assume their customers only want to talk to their agents are getting left in the dust. People just want to solve their issue and move on with their day - whether the answer came from a live agent or a virtual one. 
  2. The technology has arrived, the designs are improving, and the price tag is lower. The days of expensive and limited IVR and chatbots are dying out. While there are bad solutions all over the place just like any other technology field, enterprises are finding the right vendors and creating carefully crafted experiences

With the rise in conversational AI in contact centers, along comes many misconceptions. Let’s take some time to review the facts:

Automation will not shutter our contact centers.

Artificial intelligence is giving life to our contact centers. Giving us an opportunity to allow our live agents to focus on higher value conversations. Empowering those conversations to be shorter and more effective. And most importantly, giving us an opportunity to have conversations we wouldn’t be having otherwise, with proactive conversations that allow us to connect with our customers in ways that do not scale with live agents. 

Artificial intelligence can scale infinitely.

Agents are a crucial asset to your contact center. And they always will be. With the benefits of people, comes their biggest downfall. This is especially prevalent during times like these with COVID-19 - unexpected scenarios where scaling people up and down represent major workforce challenges. 

For example, a NICE DEVone partner, SmartAction, partnered with NFL QB Jameis Winston and Dr. Scott Kelley on their National COVID-19 Hotline, where they have deployed a Rapid Response Virtual Agent to deflect repetitive, high volume calls.





Conversational AI is an inevitable truth.

And the conversations enterprises should be having internally should not be around the tradeoffs between live agents and virtual agents. The conversation should be around where to best use automation and self-service and provide more options to your customers who prefer automated options. 


We are in the middle of a self-service revolution - powered by artificial intelligence. What was once a nice-to-have technology offering is now a competitive differentiator and a preferred method of communication by many consumers. 

How to automate without sacrificing an ounce of CX

If you’ve purchased a new pair of shoes in the last few years, chances are good that you’ve been in a DSW shoe store or purchased from their website. While DSW has encountered tremendous growth, that has also meant mounting customer service pressure—yielding millions of inbound calls per year. They turned to SmartAction in 2018 to collaborate on a self-service strategy to augment their NICE CXone platform with conversational AI.

By combining NICE CXone with SmartAction’s virtual agents, DSW ultimately found the right human-machine balance without compromising an ounce of CX. Agents are optimized to assist customers with more complex needs, while Average Handle Time (AHT), a key CX metric, has fallen by two minutes!

Our webinar, From Brick & Mortar to Digital Superhero, picks up the story at a pivotal point. The company was grappling with how to build ongoing demand without growing the organization—and how to incorporate automation while preserving the quality of the customer experience. In this OnDemand webinar, you’ll hear first-hand how they did it.

Access this webinar: From Brick & Mortar to Digital Superhero: DSW’s Journey to AI-Powered Virtual Agents

Learn more about SmartAction in the CXexchange marketplace, featuring pre-built integrations – including AI solutions and Virtual Assistants – offered by over 120 certified NICE DEVone partners.