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AI Can Help Improve "Ambidexterity" in the Contact Center, According to New Study


When customers reach out to companies with queries, they expect the full resolution of their problem(s). Companies, however, have more significant expectations. Their goal is to reduce their response time, solve customers' issues, and fulfill these within the shortest service time possible. Sometimes, though, these goals can be in conflict; customers don’t want to feel they’ve been rushed through the transaction, which could dent their expectations that their issue will be resolved.

To try and resolve these conflicting demands, smart organizations practice what’s referred to as ambidexterity, and there are three different modes to achieve it:

  • Structural Separation
  • Behavioral Integration
  • Sequential Alternation

Increasingly, companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) systems to improve how they move from of these one ambidexterity modes to another to accomplish their tasks.

New research involving the School of Management at Binghamton University, State University of New York explored this process. Using data from different contact center sites, researchers examined the impact of AI systems on a customer service organization’s ability to shift across ambidexterity modes. The study’s goal was to understand better how organizations today might use AI to guide their transition from one ambidexterity mode to another because certain structures or approaches might be more beneficial from one month to the next.

As part of the three-year study, researchers examined the practices of five contact center sites: two global banks, one national bank in a developing country, a telecommunication Fortune 500 company in South Asia and a global infrastructure vendor in telecommunications hardware.

The key takeaway of the research is that it’s a delicate balancing act; AI is a valuable asset, so long as it’s used properly, though these organizations shouldn’t rely on it exclusively to guide their strategies.

“Customer service organizations often balance exploiting the latest technology to boost efficiency and, therefore, save money,” said Associate Professor Sumantra Sarkar, who helped conduct the research. “This dichotomy is what ambidexterity is all about, exploring new technology to gain new insights and exploiting it to gain efficiency.”

Edited by Alex Passett
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