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The future of customer service: Humans for robots isn’t a matter of rip and replace

In any job sector, there is always a debate of whether technology will overtake human jobs, and the contact centre is no different. These arguments are always made in black and white and assume the workforce will be entirely human or entirely robot.
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However, this debate has no place for absolutes. For the future of customer service, rarely does technology completely automate human tasks and, in the case of the call, brands should look to technology to complement, not contend with, agents.

With the right tools and technology, brands can elevate the future of customer service and role of call centre staff by enabling them to be more efficient, and effective, all while creating a great customer experience.

In fact, the future of customer service depends on technology adoption.

The robot debate

With changing technology comes uncertainty for both companies and employees. Insurance giant Aviva addressed that uncertainty head on by asking its entire 16,000 employees if they thought a robot could do their jobs. Any employees who answered yes were given employment opportunities in other departments.

The call centre and credit departments will likely have the most transfers. It is a smart move for brands to address the future of customer service in the midst of technology advancements.

It does address uncertainty, but the approach must be more comprehensive and take into account that just because a robot can do a job, doesn’t mean it should.

The future of customer service will always need human employees to build authentic connections and foster customer engagement.

As the need for a personalised customer experience grows, bots will become even more important, and the future of customer service will be a combination of bot and human.

Here’s why: When a customer wants help with a simple task, a bot will suffice, and the bot handling that query will free up call centre staff to give customers the reassurance of a human voice, empathy, and quality support of a highly-trained agent. In short, it’s important to offer customers a choice.

If brands want to be successful when implementing bot strategies, it’s crucial to be transparent.

Regardless of the platform, customers will want to know if they’re talking to a human or a robot, so they don’t feel deceived. Equally importantly, regardless of whether the query is simple or complex, customers always need the option to speak with a human.

Forcing customers through a bots-only route will only serve to annoy them, especially if the bot can’t understand the specific request. It’s important to escalate the situation to an employee if the customer requests or the automated service cannot handle the service.

Connecting with customers through speech analytics

For brands to enhance the customer experience, technology must go beyond bots. In fact, speech analytics technology can ensure that human staff members are offering customers better service than ever before provided.

With speech analytics, brands can gather the information and insights needed to really understand customer sentiment and needs, and this visibility into the minds of customers will give employees the right tools to handle any situation.

Speech analytics enables companies to quickly listen for a customer using pre-determined keywords or phrases. These words and phrases can range from red flags that indicate a common problem to sensitive, rare queries that require a sophisticated response.

Analysts can use this data to drill down into the heart of the issue i to make informed decisions about how to engage with that customer in the future.

These insights can also be pooled and extrapolated further to help inform how staff members engage with the broader customer base as well as internally within the organisation.

Sharing these invaluable insights ensures that products, services, and marketing campaigns are meeting the needs of the target audience and aren’t creating fresh customer service headaches.

Speech analytics can be further supported by topic modelling tools, which use machine learning and natural language processing to help identify trends within customer conversations.

This technology identifies topics by categorising conversational data by concept rather than keyword, which helps discover potential problems before they become a major issue so brands can prepare an appropriate response before it spirals out of control.

Using technology to focus on outcomes

When interacting with brands, customers want consistency and an easy, great experience. To meet the needs of customers, it’s important that brands focus on implementing the tools that will generate positive outcomes.

With a strategy that supports both bots and human employees, customers can get the quick and easy service they need but still interact with a person when the situation calls for a more in-depth approach.

In addition, speech analytics will give brands the right insights to ensure that those person-to-person interactions to be more informed, effective, and productive.

The debate about technology overtaking human jobs is a never-ending conversation. There’s no question that technology is here to stay and it should equip people to be more proficient in their jobs so they can create a great customer experience.

In the end, technology used in the future of customer service should be used to empower humans, not replace them.

Todd Marthaler is analytics consultant at Calabrio

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