Sabio Disrupt 2024: Where AI Meets CX and Barack Obama joins Steve Jobs!

At Sabio’s Disrupt 2024 earlier this week, Barack Obama – the former President of the United States – discussed the future of customer experience (CX), focusing on the risk and rewards associated with artificial intelligence (AI). 

Sabio Disrupt 2024: Where AI Meets CX and Barack Obama joins Steve Jobs!

Moments earlier, Steve Jobs, the late, great former Apple boss, re-enforced the event’s theme through his opening monologue, claiming ‘the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” 

And yes, you did read those opening paragraphs correctly! 

Granted – the appearances of Messrs Jobs and Obama were the result of AI-powered avatars, but the underlying message was clear; AI is here, it’s potential is huge and it's going to have an impact whether you’re prepared for it or not! 

Disrupt’s Growing Legacy 

Now in its eighth year, Sabio’s Disrupt has become a mainstay of the CX calendar with events now in the UK and in Spain attracting brands and specialists from all across Europe. It’s become renowned for its ability to capture not only the current CX landscape (warts and all) but also provide insights into what‘s potentially coming down the line.  

Hosted once again by Sabio’s Chief Innovation Officer, Stuart Dorman, the event kicked off with a thought-provoking opening address delivered by Jobs’ avatar, setting the stage for the discussions to follow. AI was a recurring theme throughout and it was Stuart’s interview with the AI-generated Obama that truly captured the audience's attention.  

In an admittedly risky, live Q&A, Stuart chatted with the former president who shared his insights on the future of CX but also showcased the power of AI by delivering a CX-related rap (or at least he was supposed to – but the AI refused thus inadvertently providing live proof that although the technology is here, it isn’t quite bullet-proof just yet!). 

Endless AI possibilities for Customer Service – but caution remains 

From AI-driven avatars enhancing store and check-in experiences to AI-powered translation technology enabling multilingual customer support, the possibilities are endless. However, Daniel Seaborne, Managing Director - UK & South Africa at Sabio, reminded us that “AI will not solve all of our problems” and instead technology should be viewed as a facilitator for delivering better CX, not a replacement for human interaction. 

Fail Fast to Continuously Improve 

Similarly, to previous years, the panellist sessions throughout the day sparked some interesting and thought-provoking discussions. One of which came via Dr Brett Hewitt, Engineering Manager at Zuto, disruptors of the car finance industry. Dr. Hewitt insisted brands needed to adopt a 'fail fast' mindset, emphasising that this approach allows organisations to quickly roll out new initiatives and gauge their effectiveness. It also highlights the crucial relationship between contact centre and technology teams in driving innovation. 

As CX professionals, we must also embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Helen Wilson, Chief Operations Officer at Atom Bank, shared their approach of viewing every contact as an opportunity to identify and address service failures. By using insights gained from customer interactions, organisations can continually tweak and improve the customer journey. 

The Role of the Contact Centre Agent Continues to Evolve  

The event also shed light on the evolving role of contact centre agents in the age of AI. As AI takes over routine tasks, agents' roles will become more specialised and focused on managing complex, emotionally charged customer interactions. This shift necessitates a greater emphasis on empathy, emotional intelligence, and resilience training for agents. As Jason Roberts, Founder & Director of Appropriate Consulting, noted, the future will see "a tighter, more focused pool of work coming in, but with higher emotional risk." 

Disrupt also served as a reminder of the importance of empowering team leaders in any tech journey. As Martin Teasdale, Founder & Host of Get Out of Wrap, pointed out, team leaders play a crucial role in the success of any operation, and we must consider how AI and other technologies can be deployed to support them in their day-to-day responsibilities. 

The Future of CX lies in the Hands of Specialised Professionals 

I am convinced more than ever that the future of CX lies in the hands of specialised professionals who can adapt to the rapidly changing landscape. We must work towards professionalising the sector, creating broader career opportunities, and changing the societal perception of working in a contact centre. 

Sabio’s UK Disrupt served as a powerful reminder that the CX industry is on the cusp of a transformative era driven by AI and data. AI is no longer a distant dream but a reality that is already transforming the way we interact with customers. From AI-powered avatars and translation technology to predictive analytics and 3D data models, the possibilities are endless.  

However, amidst the excitement, there was also a sobering reminder that the technology is not a silver bullet. Its success will depend on how well we integrate it into our existing processes, how effectively we train our teams to work alongside it, and how ethically we deploy it to enhance, rather than replace, human connections. 

Nina Schick, Author, Entrepreneur, and the event’s keynote speaker, rounded the day off nicely by saying: “AI is already woven into the fabric of our lives… We're only at the beginning." 

It’s an overused saying, but the future is indeed here. It's now time for us all to embrace it. 

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