The Google generation is changing industries from retail to call centers — and everything in between. Thanks to the internet, DIY solutions to problems big and small are often just a few clicks away.

But when it comes to a broken appliance, or getting locked out of an online account, consumers still tend to pick up the phone and dial into a company’s hotline. But today’s consumers have become more savvy with their fixes. By the time they’ve reached the customer service operator, they’ve already done their homework online and tried a few simple fixes of their own.

In other words, consumers have become smarter and have higher expectations for call center operators. To serve more educated customers, call centers have had to step up their game as well.

In the latest edition of the Call Center Commerce Tracker, we explore how call centers around the industry are combining human expertise with advanced tech to serve a more knowledgeable and informed customer base.

Around the Call Center World

Some companies are focusing on mixing human and artificial intelligence (AI) to make contacting call centers more efficient for consumers and call center employees alike. And while machines won’t be entirely replacing human call center agents anytime soon, they could be used to speed up authentication and information recall processes for call centers and screen out abusive callers, saving employees some time and grief in the process.

NICE inContact, for one, is looking to use AI to give its contact centers a virtual upgrade. The call center software solutions provider is working with cloud communications software and solution provider IMImobile to integrate omnichannel chat capabilities into NICE inContact’s CXone cloud customer experience platform.

Amazon is also getting in on the AI fun. Contact center solution provider Genesys announced a new integration between its own cloud customer engagement solution and Amazon Alexa. The integration is aimed at leveraging AI technology to allow companies to more easily create and maintain a conversational interactive voice response that can serve contact center calls more efficiently and enhance the customer experience.

For the latest headlines around the space, check out the Tracker’s News and Trends section.

Turning Callers into Loyal Customers

As call center technology and trends have matured, some businesses have turned their focus to serving the whole lifecycle of a customer’s journey with a company. That includes iQor, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based company that manages contact center operations for healthcare companies, financial services firms and consumer tech giants like Samsung.

In this month’s Call Center Tracker, Gary Praznik, iQor’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, spoke with PYMNTS about how the company is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make calls more efficient and support human staff.

“Most times, when they call, customers are past the point of being helped by a bot,” he said. “They need a human being that they can explain their issue to … [who] can understand them. So, I think, rather than replacing humans, they’re going to be working to make humans more efficient.”

About the Tracker

The Call Center Commerce Tracker™, powered by IntraNext Systems, serves as a monthly framework for the space, providing coverage of the most recent call center commerce news and trends. The Tracker also includes a provider directory highlighting the key players comprising the call center ecosystem.