AI takes a practical leap in the CX industry

By Elizabeth Glagowski, Customer Strategist Journal Editor-in-Chief

The yin and yang of people and technology was on full display at the recent Customer Contact
conference, the popular annual gathering of contact center players in Las Vegas hosted by Customer Management Practice. The show — its largest to date — featured two expo halls full of AI and other tech vendors touting their digital wares.

The one question on everyone’s mind: “How do I integrate AI to innovate without damaging my brand, customer, or employee experience?”

Nicole Kyle, managing director of CMP Research, said it’s a question of managing digital dexterity for brands and customers. Digital experiences have been normalized by consumers across all industries, and expectations are high for AI and other digital tools to support internal and external operations.
Companies are still hesitant to take big steps, however.

Like in the internet’s nascent days, there’s no one proven path. “When everyone [in the vendor space] does everything, it’s hard to know where to start,” said James Bednar, head of product at TTEC, during a thought leadership session. Adaptability and flexibility are critical to the CX industry’s evolution with AI.

Kyle presented data from the new report, “2024-2025 Customer Contact Benchmarking Report,” which found that a majority of consumers are theoretically willing to use AI for self-service, but only 17%
are confident they can successfully address a service issue with an AI chatbot right now.

Balance humanity with technology
Low confidence levels in AI come from uncertainty when humans are not present in the interaction. Discussions at the show focused on balancing technology with humans and knowing when to lean into AI and when to lead with a human touch. Technology alone is not the answer. 

“We don’t view automation as being bad,” said Bednar. “A lot matters in the quality of the implementation, with time and effort to get the most out of [the technology].” For customers, he said, use automation and AI tools to reduce friction and escalate to humans quicker with context.

Frictionless doesn’t mean completely automated or completely human. Find the balance that works for unique customer journeys, said TTEC Chief Marketing Officer Nick Cerise.

“Experiences may not be human to human, but they have to feel human to human,” he said. 

Read the full article in the Customer Strategist Journal.

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