If you work in a business of any size, form or function, chances are you’re being asked to do more – sell more, resolve customer issues faster, hit targets that are ever increasing. Which is all fine, except you’re not being given any more budget – for training, for recruitment or financial incentives. Please do more with less. Not interested in hearing excuses. Sincerely, every manager who ever existed.
While this no doubt rings true for many managers, maybe even keeps you up at night or keeps you active on employment sites, there is something that can release a bit of the pressure – Artificial Intelligence. Yes, the bots. Bots who can give speedy answers on chat, phone, website, text or social media. They can answer the routine, common questions customer service agents are being peppered with every day. They can have an immediate impact on your customer service stats – answer basic questions and collect information quickly and easily. Happy customers who don’t have to wait, happy business hitting targets quickly and easily.
This might make you feel better. But it also might send a chill down your back. If robots are the new front line in customer service, what will become of me, of my team? Surely we will be seen as redundant if there are cheaper, automated solutions who can keep going and going, with no breaks, no weekends, no turnover, no burnout?
A series of tests conducted on the leading Artificial Intelligence systems in the world have revealed that, tested against the human IQ, their intelligence currently is that of a 4-year-old child. Most businesses would not allow 4 year olds to do much. Just the most basic of responsibilities. The upshot of this is that with bots answering the routine questions, this leaves the more interesting, challenging and in-depth issues to be tackled by the humans. Suddenly not only do their jobs get a lot more interesting, but your customer experience should improve with agents who are more motivated and interested in their roles.
Humans are emotional beings. They are complex, unpredictable, moody. The same experience can be viewed completely differently by different people, depending on their perspectives. And the day. The limitation of AI is the A. It’s artificial. They are very limited in their ability to tackle anything beyond very basic information and queries. Humans of today thrive on experience – they want personalisation, they want the brands they interact with to understand them and give them the attention they crave, whenever they need it, and wherever they happen to be.
The very best way to view the rise of AI is as an opportunity to expand your team with a fraction of the cost it would take to hire new people. It’s like having a team of trained, competent interns working the phones who just go and go. They take care of the parts of the job no one really likes – the repetition, the boring stuff. Take the time this frees up for your agents and train them in handling more complex customer issues. This means having conversation, not reading scripts, taking the time to understand the customer – their value to your company, and their journey with you thus far (good or bad). If you hire the right people, then having staff dig a little deeper and offer a great customer experience should be something they enjoy a lot more than acting like the human version of the bots.
So fear not. You have a place in this New World of humans working shoulder to shoulder with bots. Your team can offer something no bot of this day and age can hope to give – a personalised experience that is so crucial to customer service. So embrace your army of bots, get them doing the repetitive stuff to ease the pressure and improve the performance of your humans.
About the author
Joel Hill is General Manager at Noojee Telephony Systems, a call centre software provider aimed at small to mid-sized businesses. Joel loves talking to people and finding out what makes them tick.