Last month, the AI Safety Summit saw Elon Musk (among others) proclaiming the wholesale replacement of human jobs by AI. 

    This week, the Customer Engagement Summit, the leading conference of more than 1,000 CX professionals exploring the future of customer contact, told a different story. It saw the customer service industry clapping back at such wild claims, and proved that human interaction is more valued – and valuable – than ever.  

    In short: the Customer Engagement Summit was, well, engaging. Here are our biggest takeaways from the day.


    Human interaction has never been more valued.
    Far from the big replacement touted by Musk et al, the presiding feeling among CX leaders is that most companies want to retain human workers and the human experience. 

     Engage Customer’s ‘2023 Global Voices of Experience’ research, a study on the current state of CX conducted with Ipsos, confirmed as much. Out of 5,000 consumers, a whopping 47% describe their experiences as ‘nothing notable’. That’s nearly half of consumers responding with a shrug to their experience.  
    The key to turning apathy into positivity? Human-centric customer contact. By embracing AI’s ability to handle simpler cases - the FAQs, the routine tasks and inquiries - agents can become true brand guardians with the power to influence corporate perception, enhance loyalty and boost profits.


    Agent attrition is peaking.
    In-keeping with the industry’s desire to emphasize human interaction, there is concern about the churn rate of agents in contact centers. According to Mathias Goehler, CTO EMEA at Zendesk, some Zendesk customers are seeing up to 100% attrition.  

    The question being asked at the CustomerEngagement Summit, then, was how to keep agents happy and performing well. A reminder that most companies want to retain human workers and let them focus on the human experience, rather than replace everyone with AI and automation.  

     On that note, the application of generative AI has been found to lower agent attrition rate by 25%, according to McKinsey research. Could it be the answer to making agents happier - and more willing to stick around?


    Is Gen AI all talk and no action?  
     The buzz about Gen AI and LLMs continues - but few companies seem to have deployed them into action yet, for a variety of reasons.   

     One factor is the high risk of failure, and the need for effective change management to onboard a game-changing technology into your organization. Then there’s the efficiency costs of large language models, the regulatory risks of potential hallucinations, the difficulty of finding and systematizing the right use cases for AI.  

     Ultimately, CX leaders need a framework that ensures AI models are safe and effective before they start seeing serious results. 
    Clearly, there are lots of open-ended questions here. Want answers? Check out our latest blog about how you can use Decision Intelligence to integrate Gen AI successfully into your customer service frontline.


    Beware of the black box.
    Let’s be honest for a moment: few of us understand how AI models arrive at their outputs, and that’s a problem. Between inaccuracies, compliance violations, “hallucinations”, and biased and opaque outputs, there are a whole host of risks associated with bringing something we don’t quite understand into our contact centres.  

    This point was not lost on the Customer Engagement Summit crowd, who stressed the importance of regulatory oversight and keeping a human in the loop where AI solutions are concerned. The challenge now for CX leaders is to maximize the efficiency gains of AI models in the contact centre while ensuring they’re safe and human-centred. 

    We have some answers here, too. XpertRule CRO Alex Bentley recently wrote about how you can remove the risks from Generative AI while reaping all the benefits.


    Gen Z are shifting the goalposts.  
    While customer engagement was the aim of the day, it wasn’t all about driving retention and satisfaction. Appealing to a younger demographic is key to sustaining CX success in the long run – for obvious reasons. And so attention turned to the demands of Gen Z consumers, who are evolving how we think about customer service.  

    Corporate responsibility is non-negotiable with this audience. Sustainability, DE&I, and wellbeing are higher up the list of consumer priorities than ever before, so there’s no hiding place for business leaders.  

    To Gen Z, great customer service isn’t just about offering efficient solutions – it’s about the wellbeing of both customers and agents. And who are we to argue with them?  


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