What Effect Will Bots Have on Call Center Jobs? - Talkdesk - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Much has been said recently about the impact of bots on modern life. What was once science fiction is quickly becoming a reality in our day-to-day lives. As a proud Palo Alto resident, I am personally impacted by Google’s self-driving cars almost every day. (“Stop taunting me with your perfect driving! I see you smiling and hands-free in the driver’s seat.”)
One of the places bots are likely to make a big splash is customer service. For better or worse, the bot has made its debut but what effect will bots have on call center jobs?
To answer this question, we need to take a few steps back and examine the history of innovations in customer service.
Stone Age Service
Until recently, the relationship between companies and their customers has been unidirectional, with businesses claiming almost all of the power. There were a limited number of ways to get in contact with companies, and if the response was not what the customer wanted, there was little recourse. Customers either did not have or were not aware of other choices.
The Customer Service Revolution
A number of factors have contributed to a complete rethinking of the customer-company relationship.
1. The rise of channels
What used to be strictly in-person and by phone service now takes place across channels including SMS, chat, email, video and social.
2. The world wide web
The Internet has empowered consumers to seek information on companies and their competitors. Consumers are no longer trapped with certain brands and those brands can no longer control the information consumers receive.
3. Social media
Social media is everyone’s microphone. Modern customers have the ability to share their opinions with millions of strangers with the click of a button.
The new customer-company relationship is a complete 180 from what it had been. It’s a bidirectional and multichannel relationship with customers holding most of the power. Customer expectations are rising, and companies are scrambling to keep up.
Call Center Outsourcing
Sprinkled throughout all of these changes has been a move to outsource customer service labor. Many call center jobs have been moved to other countries, particularly India and the Philippines. Although call center outsourcing has by no means touched every company or every industry, it has certainly caused a seismic shift in the location and nature of call center jobs.
Until bots came along, call center outsourcing was one of the major cost-saving measures companies were taking. Outsourcing has also been controversial because some see it as a way for call center jobs to be “lost” to other countries. On the consumer end, there has been some backlash in cases where call center agents are not able to adequately understand their inquiries due to cultural or linguistic misunderstandings.
An Omnichannel Approach
As the customer-company relationship has changed, businesses have had to adapt (and in many cases develop) customer service strategies. One of the newest innovations in this arena is the omnichannel approach.
Omnichannel customer service strategies attempt to meet customers on their level by delivering service to customers on their preferred channel, whether that’s phone, in-person, email, SMS, video, self-service, live chat or anything else. At Talkdesk, we think about omnichannel service on the emotion-urgency axis. Every individual customer service inquiry requires a specific response based upon the emotion and urgency of the situation.
The purpose of an omnichannel approach is to foster customer loyalty by making the customer experience more effortless. Since consumers have taken control of their interactions with companies, businesses are adjusting their approach by trying to be there exactly when customers need them.
Bots are just the most recent in a long line of customer service transformations. Customer service chatbots are now being introduced into contact centers around the world. They can interact with customers on chat and SMS, handle basic inquiries and prep information for agents before they speak to the customer.
So what IS the impact of bots on call center jobs?
Bots are still a relatively new technology, so nothing is for sure. For the sake of speculation, let’s explore some of the possible outcomes of this new technology:
1. Bots replace humans completely
For many, this is the worst case scenario; all human call center jobs are replaced by robot jobs. Of course, this isn’t realistic. At this stage, we do not have AI that can adequately address all customer needs, regardless of channel. Robots simply do not have the capacity to empathize and so many customers reach out simply for empathy.
2. Bots will eliminate a significant amount of call center jobs
This one is a yes and no situation. Call center jobs may be relatively safe from bots. The advantage of phone support is that it’s human. Callers with emotional, urgent requests can reach out and talk to someone! As to contact center jobs, bots may spell doom for many text-based customer service representatives.
3. Bots will force humans into more specialized roles
As bot technology progresses, customer service bots will be able to perform more and more tasks. This will mean that they can take over many jobs, including in the call center. In order to compete, humans will have to learn to do more specialized tasks that cannot be performed by AI. This would be a great improvement for the customer as it would mean that representatives are more knowledgeable, but it would also likely contribute to a loss of call center jobs as a whole.
4. Bots will not have any effect on call center jobs
It’s possible that chatbots will be a fad. Perhaps the public will respond so negatively to the idea that it won’t be sustainable for companies to utilize them and no call center jobs will be lost. This is relatively unlikely to happen simply because of the cost-saving aspect of bots. There are many menial tasks that can be completed cheaper and more efficiently by robots.
The implications of chatbots are far reaching. They have the potential to transform the provision of customer service as we know it. What will be the effect of bots on call center jobs? Only time will tell.
Improve your customer service provision now without having to involve chatbots with a demo of Talkdesk cloud-based call center software.
Publish Date: August 4, 2016 5:00 AM
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