Ever wonder if a contact center employee is burned out? AI-powered feature in Cisco Webex can help

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Cisco is bringing new AI power to its Webex portfolio with a series of features designed to help improve productivity, whether users are in the office, at home or in a contact center.

The AI-powered features include the general availability of a series of generative AI capabilities that Cisco first previewed back in Oct 2023, including the Cisco AI Assistant for Webex which provides summarization and chatbot capabilities. Cisco is also rolling out new software and hardware, including Cisco AI Assistant for Customer Experience (CX) with a beta preview of a contact center agent burnout feature that aims to help identify when an agent likely needs help. 

The Cisco Webex AI update comes as competition in the AI-powered meeting and collaboration market continues to grow with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom and Otter AI among the vendors all ramping up an expanding list of features. While certain features like meeting summaries are now table stakes for gen AI meeting collaboration vendors, Cisco is looking to differentiate by bringing in more context and networking-enabled capabilities.

“We are starting to talk about how AI is going to make a difference in the customer experience space, not just for knowledge workers and frontline workers who are mostly using calling and meetings and maybe chat, but in the contact center space,” Anurag Dhingra, SVP, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Engineering, Collaboration at Cisco, told VentureBeat.

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Agent burnout a concern? AI to the rescue

Among the most unique and interesting aspects of the Cisco Webex AI update are a series of updates to the Webex Contact Center technology.

Webex is the overarching brand name for Cisco’s collaboration and meeting tools and includes desktop software for video and voice as well as enterprise collaboration and messaging. There is also a specific product just for customer contact centers, which is where the Webex Contact Center fits in.

Cisco Webex Contact Center is getting AI capabilities for topic analysis to analyze why customers are reaching out and what issues are trending. The system will also provide suggested response capabilities where AI can recommend responses for agents to use. Additionally, there is an end-of-call wrap-up and summarization feature powered by AI to help extract insights.

While summarization, responses and topic analysis are interesting, Cisco is going a step further with its agent burnout feature.

“This is where we’re applying AI to predict when an agent is getting burned out and that is starting to affect the quality of interactions that they’re delivering to customers,” Dhingra explained. “You can then, based on that, act on things,  like take them out of the call queues for a while, give them a break or maybe start diverting calls to somebody else.”

Cisco AI Assistant for Webex gets a boost too

Cisco is also expanding its AI capabilities for users in the enterprise.

The Cisco AI Assistant for Webex is being expanded with real-time translation of messages within chat spaces and messaging channels. Previously translation was only available for meeting closed captions. The translation support is expansive with support for over 100 languages.

In addition to the software updates, Cisco also announced a pair of new hardware devices. The Cisco Board Pro G2 is a touch collaboration device, while the Cisco Desk Phone 9800 series provides integrated Webex capabilities to a network-optimized device.

The new hardware is intended to help support back-to-the-office mandates that are beginning to ramp up across enterprises. A new global study from Cisco across 14,000 employees and over 3000 employers in 19 different countries found that 80% of employers across the globe are mandating some type of return to the office. 

Dhingra said the new hardware is intended to help provide more capabilities for users in an office. For example, in some environments, employed ‘hot swap’ desks as needed, instead of having a dedicated desk. That’s a scenario the Cisco Desk Phone 9800 series supports, enabling users to easily log in and out of the phone to get full access to their own messages, calendar and collaboration tools.

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