In the article “Man vs. Robot: The Battle of Customer Service Turning Digital”, Larry Alton discusses the impact the millennial generation has on the economy. Some of this impact includes green practices and sharing, but the one most critical for call centers is self-service customer service. Self-service within the contact center often includes automation strategies like interactive voice response (IVR) services. As automated call center technology gets better every year, some believe that robots will eventually take the place of a live agents.
In some ways, the concern over robotics completely taking the role of call center agents isn’t completely unfounded. It seems like more and more companies are using IVR systems as their first line of customer service. Think about all of the times you’ve called a Fortune 1000 company and the first thing you heard was an automated voice that says, “Thank you for calling the (company name) customer service line. To pay your bill, press 4 now…” And, to be fair, there’s a very good reason why companies are using automated systems: it’s extremely efficient and cost effective. Customers can call in, click through a series of commands, and finish a transaction without ever having to speak to a live agent. Automating customer services ultimately reduces company costs dramatically and it reduces the required workload for human agents.
However, having advanced technology does not mean you’ll be free from glitches and other issues. When something inevitably goes wrong with your technology, a human will be required to pick up the pieces. In addition, there will always be customers who need to have their voice heard by the company, and an automated response will not fill that void. If you want the best possible customer satisfaction, high-quality call center agents are a vital component of providing the best customer experience. Even the customers who completely love the idea of self-service will still be more comfortable knowing that a human interaction is possibly in case a problem arises. The main key in finding a balance between automation and human interaction is offering self-service while letting the customer know that there is always somebody available to help them whenever they need it.
Alton’s final discussion point addresses the common concern of automation taking jobs away from humans and eventually sinking the job market. Alton states that while people have concerns, this problem hasn’t happened to this point and it’s actually created better job opportunities. Companies may need less customer service agents, but in their place is a need for people who can work with the technology itself by optimizing it or fixing it when things go wrong. These jobs are often more comfortable and pay much better than phone representative roles. And, as discussed earlier, call center agents will always be necessary due to the fact that there are some problems robots can't fix.
While the need for call center agents may decrease slightly as automation technology gets stronger, there will always be a need for humans in the call center industry. Humans will always be a necessity, because they can do something robot customer service will never be able to do: connect with customers on an emotional level. Call center agents will be there for customers when the technology won’t suffice.
This blog post was based on an article by Larry Alton. To read the original article, please click here.
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