The Call Centre Is Dead
If you work in a call centre, your job is under threat. You could be forgiven for thinking this with all the industry talk of bots, automation and self-service.
The emphasis from the analysts and experts has shifted from multi-channel (emails, webchat, social media) and omni-channel (all the above working in tandem) contact centres to “the need to love bots” and “750 reasons to trust a bot”.
Reading and watching content surrounding this subject, I find myself akin to Will Smith in I, Robot. You’re familiar with the film where he is a complete sceptic of robots taking over simple tasks such as running to the shops and making your dinner.
Whilst I recognise that this would be handy when the train home is late – maybe they could be operated by robots? – I don’t think we are anywhere near ready to let a machine start talking to our biggest customers or even our smallest.
Person of Interest
I’m not as bad as Will in that I think bots and machines will kill us all, but having finished the Person of Interest box set, he might be onto something.
If machine learning is as far advanced as we are led to believe, then empathy and sensitivity will be portrayed in our unmanned contact centres; what’s to stop them from learning bad manners and catching onto colloquialisms and using them when speaking to your single platinum client via web chat?
Or what if when your customer repeatedly smashes 5 on your auto attendant to get through to billing and your machine takes it personally – would it hang up?
At the heart of these bot projects is customer experience. Customer demand dictates that customer experience is poor, so a replacement is an obvious jump. However, would training not be a less dramatic step into improving your CSAT scores?
The technology available is clever, of that there is no doubt. However, when I was banking with Marks and Spencer, their bot could only pull up the answers to FAQs stored in his/her database. This was not a great help to me and I had to call and speak to a human anyway.
On a webinar last month, I asked a company what the process was for escalating to a real-life human being – and there wasn’t one! They trusted their bot so much that you could no longer speak or web chat to a human. A leap of faith that I admire but I’m not totally convinced by.
How can we be confident that our payments will be taken in a compliant manner when I phone my broadband provider and say, “tech support” and I get put through to accounts. What’s to say the information isn’t stored somewhere? You know, just in case?
Payments and Compliance
For now, I think the contact centre is very much alive. Multi-channel and omni-channel are here to stay and provide fantastic customer experience. Imagine, your customer calls and you know who they are because of screen popping and why they are calling because they have been on the webchat.
The introduction of payment gateways and compliant call recording is revolutionary and is a must for any business that takes card payments online or over the phone.
So, before you invest in what I still think is a pure gamble, my advice is very much to invest in your people and the technology that will make them better at their job.
The call centre is dead; long live the contact centre.
Dominic Kent is a Technology Consultant and a Freelance Writer for hire. Versed in business and consumer technology, he regularly shares insights on the latest happenings in the industry as well as relating to everyday life. Find Dominic on LinkedIn here.