18 May 2018

Is the future of contact centres an AI workforce?

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Despite recent industry cut backs including the loss of 100 jobs at Vodafone’s Hobart centre, experts remain positive about the ongoing need for human agents- though perhaps not as many.

As more customers take to online channels to resolve their queries, call volumes are steadily declining across contact centres. However consumers are likely to call the centre directly when they face more complex queries.

It’s arguable that the contact centre agent doesn’t face redundancy in the near future, however their role will evolve as calls become longer and a shift in the conversations agents have with customers.

Chat bots are regarded by some as being the beginning of the end for a human contact centre workforce. Industry veterans, however, will recall a few of these doomsday predictions in the form of Interactive Voice Response, speech recognition and WAP to name a few.

Although automation ensures basic transactions happen quickly and smoothly, they lack what we demand in more challenging situations- empathy, instinct and interpretation. A robot cannot provide comfort or support when something goes wrong or negotiate with a dissatisfied customer.

Let us also not forget Microsoft’s ill-fated social media chatbot which quickly picked up racial slurs and insulted users with derogatory comments. Tay was designed to learn from her conversations and become progressively smarter but racists and online trolls meant she quickly developed some very bad habits.

Humans and robots are equipped with vastly different skillsets which complement each other- robots with prompt analytics and the ability to quickly turn over menial tasks while humans can use this data to consider a customer’s history and provide insight based on experience.

Perhaps we should not focus on the possibility of humans being replaced with AI, but instead how we can collaborate with it to deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on the upcoming 2nd Contact Centre Summit by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire is the manager of Akolade’s government and digital portfolio. She’s passionate about emerging digital trends, particularly in the public sector. In her spare time she enjoys picking up heavy things and putting them back down again and animals are her favourite kind of people. 

Follow me on LinkedIn for information regarding future Akolade events as well as future blogs posts @ Claire Dowler

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