AI & Automation

Implementing AI: A Guide for Contact Centers

AI has countless benefits for call centers. It helps increase employee productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and more. Not only that, it has become an essential part of keeping up with the competition.

But despite its importance, actually implementing AI is a serious challenge for call centers.

Which is why we’ve created this guide, which has everything you need to feel confident in understanding, implementing, and harnessing the benefits of AI for your business.  You’ll learn:

  • The consequences of not using AI
  • How to solve for the top implementation challenges
  • Clear steps to take with your first AI tool

And more. This is the action plan you need to stay competitive in the AI world. So let’s dive in.

Table of contents

Why get started with AI?

We've talked in the past about preparing your business for the AI revolution, but now, it's here and it's time to talk implementation. There are three core reasons why implementing AI is important for your business or contact center: its benefits, the additional value it brings, and the consequences of not implementing it. Let’s take a look.

The benefits of AI

The most obvious reason to adopt AI is for its benefits. It saves time, improves the customer experience, reduces employee turnover, lowers operational costs, and more. Learn more about these specific benefits in our guide to AI.

implementing ai - benefits of ai for contact centers

The added value of AI

“Added value” is not the same as “benefits.” What we mean by that is, automation has the benefit of saving you time, but it will only ever do the task you program it to do—nothing more. It still requires a mind behind it to command the task.

AI, on the other hand, can come up with tasks on its own, perform them, and get better at them over time. And in some cases, it can do things that humans can’t, like surface insights from large data sets.  That is the added value.

implementing ai - ai vs automation

The consequences of not implementing AI

Not implementing AI doesn’t just mean that you won’t experience positive benefits. It has negative consequences. AI is becoming the standard, just like automation already has. If you don’t align with where the landscape is headed, you’re going to fall short of your customer, employee, and technology needs.

implementing ai - reasons for implementing AI

Increased prevalence and accessibility, cost reduction, and competitive pressure are among the top reasons businesses are implementing AI. Data source

How to implement AI in business: Top considerations

While most contact centers understand AI’s ability to improve customer satisfaction, enhance employee productivity and retention, and ultimately drive revenue, there are many pros and cons, and therefore many considerations to make before implementing it. We cover them below so that you can make sure you are ready for AI and also know how to vet your AI tools properly.

Data security

AI relies on large amounts of data, which has implications for the security of the data AI is relying on as well as the accuracy of the information AI is putting forth. For contact centers, the main concern is customer data breaches. It will be important to have proper encryption and regular audits to mitigate these risks.

IT limitations

Some contact centers will need to upgrade their IT infrastructure to support AI. The challenge with re-platforming is the initial disruption it causes, but a temporary disruption for the sake of long-term performance improvement (and business growth and longevity) is a far better path than gradually declining in performance through the use of deprecating platforms.

New territory

AI is not only new, but it also has infinitely many use cases and everyone is coming up with solutions. Decision makers are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the best way to use it, who to trust, and how much to invest in it.

In addition, implementing AI means changes to infrastructure, processes, and individual roles and responsibilities. It is not easy to get organization-wide alignment on something so disruptive.

Talent gaps

Although AI is becoming more accessible to the everyday employee, it still requires particular skill sets (Prompting, for example). Leaders need to determine the scenarios for upskilling, replacing, and bringing on new employees.

implementing ai - obstacles to AIData source

The next section aims to help you break down those barriers so you can feel confident in implementing AI for your contact center.

How to implement AI successfully: 7 steps

Hopefully, the above-listed challenges either validated your concerns or brought to your attention the considerations you hadn’t thought of. Either way, the steps we’ve outlined below will help you address those challenges so you can experience more benefits of AI than risks.

1. Educate yourself on AI

Everyone is offering AI now, and without the proper knowledge it will be hard to determine your needs and who to trust. Our Free AI Crash Course can be helpful here, but there are plenty other resources available.

Make sure you understand how AI differs from automation, as well as the common types, use cases, and terms within your industry. For example: generative AI, sentiment analysis, agent assist, and predictive analytics are all concepts to familiarize yourself with.


2. Identify your use case

AI can do a lot of things, but you’re not going to implement it everywhere all at once. To identify where to implement it first, consider what it would look like to implement AI in each department—not just level of impact but also level of effort—and look at how the impact would tie back to your overall business goals.

ai implementation guide - use cases for AI

Currently, sales and marketing are the top area in which AI is being used. Data source

3. Set your goals and benchmarks

Once you have your use case and department, you can then determine which KPIs the AI will be responsible for improving. Identify your baseline metrics so you can clearly see whether the AI is working and what kind of ROI you’re getting from it. 

Our State of the Call Center guide can help you in establishing benchmarks for response, set, and close rates.

4. Be prepared to adjust KPIs

For call centers especially, AI is empowering employees to shift away from the quantitative and toward the qualitative. For example, you can train your Hatch AI bot to handle the initial conversations with inbound leads. The bot will qualify the lead, then either book an appointment or route to a rep if needed.

In this case, the number of conversations handled per day and response speed would be the quantitative KPI that the AI would be in charge of, while your humans can focus on the qualitative metrics like appointment set rate, close rate, and customer satisfaction score.

This also may open you up to address new KPIs like employee satisfaction and retention rates.

ai implementation guide - kpi changes

5. Assess your IT infrastructure

Make sure your current tech stack, including your CRM, can accommodate not just new AI technology, but also any influxes that may result from better performance.

For example, you may have a higher volume of messaging going back and forth, or your messages might require more bandwidth if they contain images and video. Now is a good time to conduct an audit of your tech stack to ensure it is as lean as possible, and then assess its ability to integrate and scale.

6. Educate and train your employees

Before you even begin to train your team members on using AI, it’s important to first educate them on its purpose within your business. They’ll need to understand things like:

  • The benefits of the tool within their department
  • How the tool will augment their performance—not replace their jobs
  • What will change in processes and platforms
  • Your projected timeline
  • New skills and expectations
  • How you will equip them

Aligning everyone on the above will reduce resistance and fears, and will make training that much easier.

7. Refine your transparency and ethics principles

AI has come into the world and evolved rapidly, so there are security and ethical concerns. Having full transparency and awareness around these topics as you move to implement AI will reassure your customers and your team moving forward.

Getting started with AI: Questions to ask before choosing an AI tool

The above steps will help you to implement your AI tool successfully, but what about choosing the best AI tool for your business? The questions that follow will help you, when vetting AI tools and vendors, to identify the right solution and gain confidence in getting started with AI.

Note that we take a deeper dive into this, as well as answer these questions for Hatch AI specifically, in our AI vetting checklist.

1. What type of AI do they provide?

Make sure you understand the type of AI that your provider uses (whether it’s generative, prescriptive, or predictive, for example.)  You may also want to go a level deeper and ask which type of technology it uses, such as deep learning, reinforcement learning, etc. If you don’t understand the answer, ask them to explain it to you on your terms. If they are an expert at what they do, they’ll have no problem with this.

types of ai - generative ai vs prescriptive vs predictive

3. What data does the AI require?

This will help you understand whether your current tech stack and data will be adequate enough for the bot to work optimally and deliver the highest returns on your investment.

4. How does the AI achieve and measure ROI?

Find out exactly how the AI feature delivers return on investments —not just on the platform itself but on other investments across your tech stack and call center. And more importantly, ask how the ROI is measured. A good AI provider will have metrics that make the AI’s performance and ROI fully transparent.


Hatch AI provides detailed reporting on bot, rep, and campaign performance, as well as your ROI.

5. Can it be set up, managed, and optimized by anyone or does it require certain skills or a team representative?

Ideally, your AI product can be configured without any coding or complex rules. This is part of the value of AI. If you have to rely on IT specialists or software engineers at your call center, or customer success reps at their business, you lose the value of the AI, which is designed to save time and alleviate resource-heavy burdens. You need to be able to configure quickly as well as adapt to changing customer needs and business goals.

6. What are the customization options?

AI learns and refines itself as it goes, but it’s important to be able to have control and customization options. Find out what the “out of the box” solution entails and then take some time to think through scenarios where you’ll want to customize. Ask about these scenarios and to the point above, find out if that’s something that can be done on your own or if it requires assistance.

hatch assistant - ai chatbot for home improvement call centers - question examples

Hatch AI provides unmatched customization so your bots can behave according to your scripts, sales process, and brand voice.

7. What kind of support do you offer?

A good AI solution will provide support throughout your customer journey. This includes choosing the right solution for your business, onboarding, and training, and then any ongoing support. Find out how support is provided—is it through phone, email, live chat? Do they have a knowledge base? Are they regularly publishing content? Regular meetings?

8. What is the total cost of ownership of your AI system?

Make sure you understand the pricing model for the AI service. Is it a one-time fee, subscription, or usage based? Are there add-ons, extra costs for support, or package deals?

9. Can you provide references from other clients in our industry?

Ask for case studies and references applicable to your business and industry. References especially are a great way to determine the reliability of a vendor without bias.

And if you're wondering about us...

  • Case studies like this one show a savings of $166k per year in overhead costs with Hatch AI.
  • This case study shows that with Hatch AI sharing the work, one inside sales rep was able to cut down his reply time from 15 minutes to 2. 

hatch ai success story - 64k saved per yearGo to the case study.


10. What are you doing to stay innovative
and responsible?

AI is constantly changing. Make sure the vendor is aware of trends and proactively considers security, ethics, and social impact in its AI product. You may also want to ask what their approach is around staying on top of larger trends and incorporating them into their product roadmap.

Start implementing AI in your outbound contact center

As you evaluate where AI will fit into your business and comb through the AI tools available to you, consider how it will contribute to your team processes, overall revenue, and how you’ll measure the success of your selected tool. We’ve given you a starting point, now it’s time to start your AI journey.

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