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Article : Artificial Intelligence vs the ‘Human Touch’ – Which Really Adds Most Value in Contact Centres?

#contactcenterworld, @responsetap

The conversation and fear surrounding the disruption that AI is causing in the world of business, is ramping up.

Ongoing innovations in automation and machine learning are particularly revolutionising the way that contact centres function, which has left many operators concerned about the security of their roles.

The worry is perhaps understandable. We only have to recall the Oxford University and Deloitte research which dominated many industry-wide headlines last year. When looking at the contact centre sector specifically, the likelihood of jobs being lost to automated technology was among the highest, at 75%.

This dichotomy between technology and labour-intensive jobs has been in play for some time. However, machines and humans can usually work in tandem with one another. Take the automotive industry. Car manufacturing plants have long ‘employed’ a variety of sophisticated machines to streamline the manual and monotonous tasks that need to be undertaken on a production line. Yet humans are still required to design cars and ensure the driving experience is a pleasure.

The present difference, however, is that, thanks to ever-emerging technologies, machines are now able to perform basic cognitive tasks too.

So, should contact centre employees be fearful that a ‘robot’ is going to steal their jobs?

Admittedly, bots can currently tackle some straightforward tasks efficiently, often without a consumer even needing to pick up the phone. And, if that consumer does decide to make a call, pre-defined messages may be able to resolve a straightforward query without the need for a person to intervene whatsoever.

But the really clever tech – the AI that we’re reading so much about in the media – still relies on intuitive human intellect, in order to reach its full potential.

Let’s think firstly about why a consumer reaches for the phone in the first place. A call usually represents a high-intent action, whether the driver is to make a purchase or – at the other end of the scale – a complaint.

Could a bot effectively handle this situation, to ensure an optimum outcome? Probably not. And research conducted by CEB – now part of Gartner – supports this point. The optimum level of customer service comes from a rep who can understand the needs of the individual caller, take control of the situation and lead them to a mutually-agreed outcome, without the need for a script.

We also have to think about the geographical location that many brands select for their (UK) contact centres. South Wales was the well-reported choice for a major funeral care firm, for example. Studies have found that callers deem the accent more trustworthy, understanding and empathetic, when compared to the somewhat generic Received Pronunciation (RP) – which non-linguists would call ‘the Queen’s English’. Local dialect heightens the perceived personal nature of the call, something that machines cannot mimic – certainly not as yet.

But this commentary should not be perceived as doing AI a disservice. Quite the opposite in fact. Because, whilst many contact centre operators are fearing technology, they may be overlooking the fact that, actually, it could be a helpful aide.

Take Call Intelligence – sophisticated software that uncovers every individual’s behaviour or actions, prior to them picking up the phone. This tool isn’t trying to replace the job of the operator. It’s trying to enhance it.

Armed with previously untapped data insights, for instance, the operator can ensure more personalised, contextual conversations, that enhance the customer experience and increase the likelihood of swift resolutions or successful sale conversions.

This isn’t the only scenario. Contact centres are increasingly being judged on call outcome, for instance, which often sees operators having to listen to lengthy IVRs to record the upshot of every conversation. Whilst the importance of this process is clear, the methodology seems archaic and inefficient, especially if further calls are queued, waiting to be answered.

This is undoubtedly an area where speech analytics will play a growing role moving forward.

At present, many people consider speech analytics little more than a buzz term, largely because the market is in its relative infancy. This currently renders the technology far from perfect, as it cannot reliably compute accents and local dialects, for example.

However, Natural Language Processing is progressing quickly, with machines increasingly being able to analyse, understand and derive meaning from language. As developers iterate NLP to consistently achieve topic segmentation, relationship extraction and sentiment analysis, the opportunities for contact centres will grow. If – no, when – calls can be transcribed in real time, for instance, and the value/outcome of the conversation can be auto-summarised, the effectiveness of even resource-light teams will be significantly boosted.

So, should we fear the ‘robots’?

Well, never say never – who knows how far technological advancements will evolve. But, at the moment, if used cleverly, AI can act as a complementary tool for contact centre operators, meaning there’s more than enough room for both players in this industry.

By Nick Ashmore from ResponseTap – the Call Intelligence platform.
#contactcenterworld, @responsetap


About ResponseTap:
Company LogoEstablished in 2008, ResponseTap is a Call Intelligence specialist, with offices in Manchester, London and the USA. With more than 2,200 worldwide clients, the company continues to be run by its two founders Richard Hamnett and Ross Fobian, with investment from Eden Ventures, Beringea and Enterprise Ventures.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Think About Demotivating Your Staff

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Wednesday, July 5, 2017

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2021 Buyers Guide Computer Telephony Integration

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
PH: +1 512-872-7565

ComSys S.A.

CLink for CRM and Call Center Integration
CLink by Comsys is a middleware that connects in real-time the CRM and the contact center applications. CLink enhances the CRM with interaction management capabilities from the contact center that allow agents to work more productively across all communication channels.
Comsys is a provider of οmnichannel customer engagement solutions that assist companies around the world in delivering unique customer experiences. For the last 15 years, Comsys designs and implements complex projects for clients from the outsourcing, financial services, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Comsys enjoys strategic partnerships with technology vendors like Cisco®, Aspect Software®, and Microsoft® for the delivery of innovative interaction management and contact center optimization solutions.
PH: +302109241486

Consilium Software

Consilium UniAgent™
Today’s call centers need their agents to work more naturally, and respond better and faster. Here, we talk about the innovations Consilium has made with the latest desktop and mobile agent releases of the UniAgent™ CRM connector. From small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies and governments across 110 countries, UniAgent™ comes into action right at the moment of reckoning, making every contact center experience engaging and personalized, powered by simplified customer identification and anticipating customer needs.
UniAgent™ provides CRM integrations between all the Cisco contact center solutions (UCCX, PCCE, UCCE and HCS-CC) and over 20 CRMs, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365...
(read more)
PH: (+61) 406 501 368

IntraNext Systems

IntraNext Systems develops agent efficiency tools and data security software solutions for medium-to-large contact centers. Our Event Intelligence® Platform solutions include SmartCTI™, iGuard®, and SmartSIP™. SmartSIP is based on our patented SIP layer technology and provides a DTMF masking solution for VoIP environments.
PH: 888.638.6398


CRM integration
We know how important it is for a business to obtain data from its customers and to manage them effectively, so we help small to large companies by integrating their CRM with the Virtual Switchboard.

This type of integration will simplify the work of your team and improve the management performance of the contact list and its information.
PH: +34 952 667 511


NovelVox CTI Connector
NextGen Cisco Finesse, Genesys & Avaya Embedded CTI Connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, Zendesk & more.
PH: (+1) 301 202 3672

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