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On The Cutting Edge Of AI, Contact Centre Sector Needs More People

Not only is the New Zealand contact centre industry offering a lifeline to the country's unemployed amid civil service layoffs and a deepening recession, but it is also one of the few sectors giving employees potential opportunities to team up with artificial intelligence (AI).

Elias Kanaris, CEO of Contact Centre Network New Zealand (CCNNZ), says the local contact centre industry presents a viable employment option because not only is the sector under-resourced, but also because it is pioneering an approach where human and AI work together as a team to solve problems.

"AI lets us analyse customer data in real-time, tailoring our messages to the customer's specific needs and emotions and, in so doing, redefining personalisation in customer service."

Kanaris says that while there can be a stigma associated with entry-level positions in contact centres, the industry has come a long way. Today's contact centres have taken much of the complexity out of work, using automation to handle repetitive and technical tasks so the agent can concentrate on human engagement.

"Better training, advanced AI tools, and real-time information empower agents to deliver exceptional customer experiences."

The contact centre industry spans various sectors, including hospitality, finance, IT, and telecommunications. The diversity offers a broad range of learning opportunities and skill applications. "The principles of empathy, pressure management, and effective communication are universal across the industry," he says.

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AI is enhancing rather than replacing roles in the contact centre.

"AI lacks empathy, which is essential in customer service. It is a quality assurance and performance enhancement tool that analyses caller behaviour and provides valuable insights. Unquestionably, the future includes significant AI-driven advancements, such as real-time translation capabilities, to better cater to New Zealand's increasingly diverse population.

"Our sector is at the forefront of technological innovation, making it an attractive option for those seeking stable, AI-resilient and impactful careers."

To help those considering a transition into this field, Kanaris offers three actionable insights:

1. Pursue Certification: "Look for NZQA-certified programmes through platforms like Skills Group or Learning Planet, or reach out to us here at CCNNZ," he says. "Certification demonstrates initiative and enhances employability, potentially leading to higher-level positions."

2. Leverage Research and Trends: Kanaris says that CCNNZ, in collaboration with Spark, is commissioning new research to identify hiring trends. "Staying informed about industry trends can help job seekers position themselves effectively."

3. Embrace Continuous Learning: "Adding certifications and staying updated with AI advancements can significantly improve your career prospects," says Kanaris. "Engaging in professional development shows a commitment to growth and can provide a competitive edge."

He says the future for the industry and its people is exciting.

"Enhanced training and AI tools are starting to provide near real-time information, offering agents guidance on tone adjustment and recommending solutions during the call—two brains working together.”


Contact Centre Network New Zealand (CCNNZ) was established in April 2009 by Contact Centre professionals, created and nurtured by a group of dedicated Contact Centre professionals. Our community thrives on collaboration, shared knowledge, and the mutual goal of elevating customer contact standards across industries.

At CCNNZ, we are unwavering in our commitment to promoting excellence in every customer interaction. We believe every call, email, or chat presents an opportunity to create a positive impact, and we strive to empower our members to make the most of these interactions.

We serve as a dynamic network dedicated to inspiring, engaging, and connecting customer contact professionals from various fields and backgrounds. Through this network, we facilitate a vibrant exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices, all aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of our members.

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